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The rise of shared & flexible office spaces in the post-covid workplace 

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, traditional work environments have undergone a remarkable transformation, giving rise to a new era of dynamic workspaces. Architects, specifiers and end-user building owners know that it is crucial to adapt to this evolving landscape and understand the unique needs of these innovative spaces.  

In this article, we’ll explore the rise of co-working and flexible offices after Covid-19 and delve into the considerations for choosing the perfect flooring that delights users and sets the stage for productivity, inspiration, and success. Let’s dive in!  

Let us scoot back a few years shall we? 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock since early 2020, you’ll have lived through one of the most historic moments ever to shake the globe; the Covid-19 pandemic. 2 years of daily government TV broadcasts, advice to the public to stay indoors, wear face masks, and to stay 2m apart (amongst other things).  

The pandemic hit the world hard, we were blissfully unaware just how much this was going to affect all aspects of our lives, including office-life as we know it. For many of us, it was a case of “we’ll be back in a few weeks surely.” How wrong we would turn out to be. 

In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics the proportion of working adults who did any work from home in 2020 increased to 37% on average from 27% in 2019.

Many were furloughed – 11.7 million in total and 1.9 million still ongoing by the end of June 2021. The weather certainly helped along with the extended annual leave (of sorts) that many took full advantage of, and during this time many not only re-evaluated their lifestyles at home, but also their careers.  

Suddenly folks began to prioritise life at home and enjoy the extra time to follow their passions (i.e. that lockdown hobby). That being said, they weren’t the only ones having a good ‘ol rethink on how to move forwards, the employer was on the hunt to evolve.  

Queue the age-old question of business…”how can our company save money in this economy?”.  

This was no doubt at the forefront of many business’ mind. Months upon months of losing money and potentially facing closure with— largely unused — offices representing large overheads .  

In fact, a recent report by Space 32 showed that empty desks across Europe represent 72% of all desk space, while Costar 2020 data indicates that £28bn was spent by London businesses on empty offices in 2020. 

It’s clear to see that things needed to change 

From many employees’ perspectives, working from home was preferable. What’s not to like about rolling out of bed at 08:45am, putting on your best PJs and firing up the laptop at 08:59am ready to face the day ahead? In time, a lot of remote workers have begun to pine for the typical office environment again… conversing over the water cooler, the office banter, the collaboration, the routine. A huge 85% of remote workers in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics, would prefer a “hybrid” approach of both home and office working in future. 

Businesses were starting to take notice… Say hello to the age of the co-working space 

Co-working noun: co•work•ing 
The use of an office or other working environment by people who are self-employed or working from different employers, typically to share equipment, ideas, and knowledge. The whole idea of co-working is to bring bright, creative people together and let the ideas collide. 

The idea of co-working is certainly attractive, businesses are able reduce their overheads on office buildings, throw a bit of networking in the mix, plus employees can have the option to either work from home or decide to visit a neutral shared space, or both! This could also certainly help with employee mental health by allowing them to avoid isolation when working from home and reduce distractions in the home office. 

It was, and still is, quite acceptable to set up in a local coffee shop, order a latte (or two) and hog the plug socket for the day, but alternative spaces are changing the way we work. For example; we can ‘pay as you go’, discreetly collaborate, be part of a growing community, have a choice of where we work, choose a ‘serviced’ building with amenities such as a gym, meeting rooms and shared (communal) areas. With choice, the working world is the proverbial oyster! 

More and more buildings are being utilised for the sole purpose of co-working. Re-vamps are happening to beautiful, old architectural buildings; turning them into sexy, modern spaces with a whole host of amenities at employees’ disposal.  

Between 2006 and 2015, studies showed that the number of co-working spaces and available seats had roughly doubled each year so the UK is no stranger to the idea of co-working, and the requirement for such spaces is still on the rise. Instant Offices’ 2022 Flex Market Review highlights that demand for share co-working spaces was up 22% compared to 2021. 

Focus on the flooring 

Flooring represents one of the largest surface spaces in the majority of commercial structures, second only to walls. The choice of materials can make or break a project, and Vebro Polymers — with an impressive end-user client roster and an expert team with a wealth of experience under their belts — is no stranger to turning a space from ugly duckling to swan! 

Flooring considerations for co-working spaces 

Comfortable cushioning 

Picture this: Co-working space users happily tapping away on their keyboards, their feet supported by the flooring beneath. Ah, bliss! When it comes to flexible offices and co-working spaces, comfort is key. Opting for a flooring material that offers some cushioning, such as vebroflex PU comfort flooring, reduces the strain on those hardworking feet.

Acoustic delight 

Imagine a symphony of conversation, brainstorming sessions, and the occasional phone call happening all around. Now, think about how wonderful it would be if all those sounds were harmoniously absorbed by the floor beneath, like a soundproof dance floor for your office! Choose flooring like vebroflex comfort systems that have excellent acoustic properties, helping to create a peaceful environment where concentration and collaboration can thrive. 

Durable and stain-resistant 

Flexibility is the name of the game in co-working spaces. With users constantly coming and going, spilling coffee, and occasionally juggling staplers (it happens!), your flooring needs to be tough and resilient. Not only does the vebroflex range offer cushioning and acoustic absorption, the liquid vinyl systems can also withstand the wear and tear of a busy office life, and, of course, those inevitable accidental messes — including the pesky marks left by castors on wheely chairs. Stains be gone! 

Aesthetically awesome 

Let’s face it, folks – appearances matter. In a world where Instagrammable moments are everywhere, flexible offices and co-working spaces also deserve the wow factor. Not only that, but creating a beautiful space that provides a welcoming environment that inspires creativity can only be a positive thing. Choosing flooring that adds a dash of personality to your space, whether it’s a vibrant pop of colour, a sleek and modern design, or even a pattern or bespoke design can allow flooring to be a canvas for inspiration!

Liquid vinyl and epoxy terrazzo flooring systems can be installed in a whole host of colours, textures and bespoke designs that will complement the interior scheme of any flexibile co-working space. 

Easy peasy maintenance 

Selecting a flooring material that’s low-maintenance and easy to clean means saying goodbye to endless battles with stubborn stains and hello to a flooring solution that creates creating a productive and happy workspace for your users. 

Not only are polymer flooring systems heavy-duty and resistant to many cleaning chemicals as well as staining from food-stuffs, systems are seamless by nature, installed as liquid in-situ before curing to leave a seam-free surface underfoot, making them easy to keep clean. 

Vebro Polymers’ floor coating systems, for example, can often be kept looking spick and span with a simple cleaning and maintenance schedule

Vebro Polymers has proudly been part of numerous projects supplying polymer flooring materials for mixed-use facility projects including City Hall Sunderland; which has gained further recognition this year due to its functional flow and sustainability, as well as taking its inspiration from the city’s industrial heritage, turning the new landmark into a new hybrid workplace. It’s well worth a look… You can read the full story here

The pandemic has altered the way we work, pushing the boundaries of traditional office setups and opening doors to a new era of flexibility and collaboration. Co-working spaces have become a beacon of hope, providing a haven for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small businesses seeking community, creativity, and connection. 

As we navigate this evolving landscape, it’s crucial to understand the unique needs of these spaces and their diverse users. From comfort and acoustics to durability and aesthetics, choosing the right flooring can make all the difference in creating an environment that fosters productivity, sparks inspiration, and celebrates the joy of work. 

But it’s not just about the flooring. Co-working spaces are more than just walls and floors. They are vibrant ecosystems, buzzing with energy and teeming with talent. They are places where ideas collide, collaborations ignite, and dreams take flight. So, as you ponder the flooring options, remember to infuse your spaces with a touch of magic and a dash of personality, creating an atmosphere that invites innovation and nurtures human connections. 

Together, let’s shape a future where co-working and flexible offices become the vibrant heartbeats of a new work culture. Contact your local team to discuss your project requirements.

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