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Flex Office Space: The Next Evolution

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“What is the future of the office?” is a question dominating conversations within commercial real estate and in workplaces across the country. Every company is making decisions on the extent to which their office strategy will evolve with the rise of hybrid work. Among these possible evolutions is the adoption of flex space.

Lisa Blacklock, Senior Vice President, Colliers Real Estate Management Services (REMS), sat down with Nick DeMarinis, Vice President and Head of Sales, Atlantic Territory, WeWork; Wayne Berger, CEO, The Americas, IWG; and Sarah Bramley, Vice President, Colliers Workplace Advisory, to give us an inside look at the possibilities, misconceptions, and trends in flex space adoption, along with factors companies should take into account when considering it as part of their future space strategy.

How we define flex space: (1) Coworking space operated by a third party, (2) space in an existing building that has been designated as flex space, accessible to all tenants, and operated by the property manager, and (3) something in between – perhaps a short-term lease dedicated to a tenant and operated by the property manager or a third party.

Key takeaways from the conversation:

  1. Flex space isn’t new, and demand is rising.

    Demand for flex space was rising before the pandemic and it’s only accelerated in the last few years. Berger outlines how the number of people and companies looking to him for flex space has increased 40%, while DeMarinis cites how WeWork’s occupancy in the Toronto market was at 84% at the end of 2022, with the demand for all-access facility passes up 112% year-over-year.

  2. The visit to the workplace must be worth the commute.

    The workplace experience has three key elements, accordingly to Bramley: “Make it easy. Make it work. Make it worth it.” As most companies adopt a hybrid work strategy, there is a lot that can be done with existing space to meet those criteria. Furthermore, DeMarinis reminds us that “hybrid” does not simply mean home or office. There’s a “third workplace” – a flex workplace possibly located closer to home – that has the potential to strengthen productivity and culture, while reducing the major deterrent to the office: the commute.

  3. Flex space can be a “playground” for companies before committing to a long-term strategy.

    Flex space can be a playground to try new layouts, locations, interactions within existing space before committing capital into a long-term strategy, according to Bramley. This may be advantageous when you consider an uneven economic situation and as companies continue to assess how hybrid work impacts different divisions of their business, including their ability to recruit and retain talent.

  4. Flex space can be customized to a company’s needs.

    There’s a lot of thought that goes into the design, delivery, and construction of flex space, according to Berger, and then into the day-to-day experience of making sure you can attract new people to the space. Berger cites examples from a third-party perspective and Blacklock explains how, as a property manager, Colliers REMS has put these into practice at sites across the country.

  5. Partnerships are emerging between flex space providers, building owners, and property managers.

The availability of capital and level of risk tolerance are often raised when discussing flex space. With office vacancies rising, Berger and DeMarinis cite partnerships with building owners as one way they are seeking to activate vacant space and develop revenue-sharing models that spur responsible growth.

For more on the evolution of flex space, give this podcast a listen.

If you’re an owner of office space wondering how flex space could help you achieve the long-term goals of your portfolio, contact Lisa Blacklock, Senior Vice President, Real Estate Management Services.

If you’re an occupier / employer looking for how to best respond to the shifting needs of workplaces, contact Sarah Bramley, Vice President, Workplace Advisory.

Additional reading:

The New Age of Hybrid Work: what the rise of hybrid work means for office real estate needs

For More Information, Please Contact:

John Duda

President, Real Estate Management Services Canada

Toronto Downtown

John Duda is the President of Real Estate Management Services, Canada. John began his career as Director of National Property Services at CIBC, joining Colliers in 2010. Appointed as head of Real Estate Management Services in 2017, John has driven significant growth both organically and strategically through the development of new service lines and markets. In his role as president, John a oversees 14 offices across Canada, working closely with local teams to create value-driven strategies in support of clients’ goals. 

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Lisa Blacklock

Market Lead and Senior Vice President, Eastern Region and National Accounts

Toronto Downtown

Lisa Blacklock is the Market Lead and Senior Vice President Eastern Region and National Accounts for Real Estate Management Services (REMS).  Lisa  started with Colliers in 2017 as Vice President,  Portfolio Management responsible for national accounts and growing the Class A portfolio.  In her current role, Lisa is responsible for acquiring and maintaining a position as the market lead in asset advisory services.   As a member of the Senior Leadership Team, Lisa manages operational issues and leads a growth plan  for Eastern Region and National Accounts which is consistent  with Colliers' overall strategy. 

Prior to joining Colliers Lisa worked in the private, public and non-profit sectors in asset and property management, leasing and operations. Lisa's exposure to all asset classes has provided her with experience on both the tenant and landlord's side of the business and a deep understanding of different ownership structures. 

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Sarah Bramley

Vice President, Workplace Advisory


Sarah Bramley is an experienced strategy and change consultant focused on aligning the user experience with business drivers and organizational culture. Sarah applies design thinking concepts in innovative ways to uncover patterns and needs, driving the development of thoughtful, creative solutions.

Sarah has managed client relationships with projects across North America, navigating complex organizational structures and multi-stakeholder situations and providing a consistent, streamlined experience for client teams.

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