Despite November’s apparent bounceback, we’re all gearing up for what would be the second recession in three years. Covid-19 has maybe left us more resilient, but still, we’ll need to be as prepared as possible if this one is as long and deep as some analysts are predicting.

Jane Sartin

Jane Sartin

The positive news is that the flexible workspace sector is well placed to both weather the coming storm and to support those thousands of businesses based within its buildings. Here’s how the sector can do some of the heavy lifting for companies.

Flexible workspaces do just what they say on the tin – they allow businesses to utilise professional workspace in a flexible way. Talk of recession understandably increases nervousness around long-term decision-making. But, by utilising serviced offices or co-working space, businesses can sign up for workspace for shorter, more manageable periods of time. The Office Group and Regus have designed membership schemes that specifically support hybrid working arrangements, with customers able to easily work in multiple locations.

Flexible workspaces can easily adapt to business growth or contraction. Taking a serviced office means changing business needs can be met: sometimes even in location as well as size of space.

Being part of a flexible workspace is also a great way to forge new business opportunities, which is always a good thing in challenging times. Whether it’s a chance conversation in the shared kitchen, or more formal networking events that bring people from different companies together, meeting people in the same area from different businesses can lead to new customers or partnership opportunities. BE Offices is a good example of a brand actively creating more opportunities for businesses within its buildings this year.

“Being part of a flexible workspace is also a great way to forge new business opportunities.”

More formal learning opportunities are also offered by many flexible operators, which can be particularly beneficial for entrepreneurs or small businesses, where internal training is less likely to be available. We also know that recessions tend to spawn more start-ups. Huckletree offers a fantastic programme to give entrepreneurs new skills, and help businesses grow, alongside their stylish workspace.

Flexible workspaces can make it easy to recruit talent in areas away from existing office space, opening up opportunities for taking on staff while still ensuring they’re based in professional workspace. There’s such a diversity of locations now that there’s often an office within easy reach. This can also help if staff are needing to cut costs of travel and work closer to home.

In times of recession, being able to focus all your energy on your business will pay dividends. Flexible workspaces are serviced to high levels, so there’s no need to be spending time on organising the most cost-effective cleaners, re-stocking the milk or sorting the building’s mail to find yours – all that is covered.

And finally, if your micro-business would like to take a step up, or your business needs change, virtual offices are worth considering. Offered by many flexible operators, virtual office services include providing a business address – often in a desirable location – dealing with mail and professional phone answering and messaging services, without the need for you to take up a physical office space. Tech advances mean virtual office services are always evolving, so that could be worth exploring.

People who have had long careers in the flexible workspace industry remember recessions of the past and the role their businesses played in helping to nurture the new companies that came out of troubled times. As the provision of flexible workspace continues to grow, that should mean even more opportunities to support the recovery of UK plc.

Jane Sartin is executive director of FlexSA