One can argue endlessly about the pros and cons of Brexit and how much Theresa May can use the forthcoming general election to strengthen her hand for negotiating with the EU, but one thing is for sure: going it alone is certain to create opportunities in the UK for businesses and building owners that are quick to adapt.

Steve Jude

Britain’s enormous band of small- and medium-sized firms are the lifeblood of the UK economy. And in turbulent times they don’t want to be tied to long and costly leases.

Since the Brexit vote, we’ve seen the demand for shorter leases growing. The percentage of SME decision-makers wanting a contract of less than three years has risen from 59% to 69% in just three months, according to the latest Citibase Business Confidence Index, which surveyed more than 1,100 UK SMEs.

That’s why, right now, opportunity knocks for businesses in UK regions. Although just part of a larger package of benefits, property owners should shout about the flexibility of their commercial premises if they are to lure entrepreneurs and help spark an economic regeneration.

Being raised on the Scottish border and living in the Welsh Marches has given me an understanding of the huge business opportunities that exist outside the M25. It also makes me see that the danger with the shiny bauble that is the ‘northern powerhouse’ is that we risk overlooking the massive potential of the rest of the UK outside big cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.

We need to start the long process of rebalancing an economy obscenely lopsided in favour of London, but in doing so we should not overlook the potential of smaller places.

Vibrant business hubs

At Citibase we’re not afraid to get our paws dirty to bring underused office buildings back to life, creating thriving business communities in UK regional towns and cities.

Smart use of flexible workspace is vital to economic growth across the country from Carlisle and Dundee to Humberside.

Co-working space at Henry Wood House at Oxford Circus

Co-working space at Henry Wood House at Oxford Circus

Over the past year alone we’ve been commissioned to transform numerous previously underused buildings from Aberdeen to Warrington, converting them into vibrant hubs for small businesses. So we know the demand for flexible space is out there and the resulting cash that landlords can earn.

Landlords sitting on empty properties hoping for a business Leviathan to take every square inch on a long-term deal will be waiting in vain

My mantra is that the world of work has changed forever - and the property industry will need to become more like its customers; nimble and moving with the times. Landlords sitting on empty properties hoping for a business Leviathan to take every square inch on a long-term deal in most cases will be waiting in vain.

Whether you are a landlord, owner or asset manager, you can generate profits more quickly and are spared the headache of dealing with multiple occupiers if you team up with a management company specialising in providing the flexible offices that the small businesses of the new economy are demanding. Firms like ours smarten up the building, put in a fantastic team, look after the SME customers and generate cash for our clients.

Outside the M25, the commercial real estate sector has a bad reputation. By providing these flexible workspaces around the UK, the sector can help change perceptions and become a key facilitator of economic activity in the regions.

Steve Jude is CEO of Citibase