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How flexible working space operators can distinguish themselves

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Regus office work space
Regus, the global flexible work space provider, has expanded aggressively in the Philippines. -- F. REGUS

FLEXIBLE WORKING spaces seem to be popping up all over the metropolis, but how can they distinguish themselves in an increasingly competitive market?

Commercial real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield Philippines Inc. said flexible workspace operators for serviced offices and co-working spaces can differentiate themselves in terms of niche, space and value-added services.

“With a growing number of operators, both homegrown and foreign, serving the Philippines, differentiation strategies are vital,” Cushman & Wakefield said in its study “Standing out: Differentiation Strategies of Flexible Workspace Operators in Manila.”

Flexible workspace operators should first determine their target market.

“Operators have also realized that despite selecting a niche, their target market do not always end up being their only regular clients — they come from all sorts of industries. Although, identifying the target market is still essential as this provides basis on how to craft the service offerings that the operator will provide, including aspects such as location, visual appeal, and cost,” the commercial real estate services firm said.

While many focus on serviced offices, some new foreign entrants are offering a hybrid model with both private offices and hot desks that allow them to attract individual and corporate clients.




Location is also important, and will depend on the target market. The report showed serviced offices and hybrid flexible workspaces targeting corporate clients are mostly in business districts, such as Makati, Bonifacio Global City, and Ortigas Center.

On the other hand, co-working spaces targeting freelancers, start-ups, small businesses and students are usually found near residential areas in Metro Manila.

Rates of flexible workspaces would also depend on the target market and the location. For instance, a seat at a flexible workplace in Manila will range from P35-P50 per hour, while in Makati, the rates will range from P100 to P700 per hour.

SPACE
Flexible workspace operators can also differentiate themselves with ambience of the office, either professional, creative, or relaxed.

Serviced offices in business districts usually adopt a professional look, as they mainly target corporate clients.

To gain an edge over competitors, Cushman & Wakefield said operators can also offer value-added services such as food and beverage, 24-hour service, accommodation, support services, and events, on top of the usual amenities.

“Particularly applicable to flexible workspaces with 24-hour operations is the need for providing sleeping quarters for its users,” the commercial real estate services firm said.

Food and beverage services also play an important factor in attracting clients. Aside from the usual free coffee, some have in-house food stalls, while some allow food deliveries and even offer alcoholic beverages to their clients.

Some flexible workspace operators have also become “one-stop-shops” for business registration, provide information and technology, administrative, human resource, accounting, legal, and marketing services to their clients.

Cushman & Wakefield expect flexible workspaces to continue its growth in the Philippines, with many operators adopting a hybrid model since it can cater to both individual and corporate clients.

“Flexible workspaces are here to stay, and a lot of improvements are anticipated. As this sector develops, more operators are predicted to enter the scene. As this happens, operators who fail to stabilize their businesses would find themselves losing the game,” Cushman & Wakefield said.

“In the end, differentiation is the key to achieve sustainability.” — V.M.P. Galang