The Landlord Opportunity in the Shift to Flex Space

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CRE expert Gavin Morgan and Upflex cofounder Ginger Dhaliwal discuss the landlord opportunity in proptech.

In a recent episode of his podcast, PropNX With Gavin Morgan, CRE expert Gavin Morgan invited Upflex cofounder Ginger Dhaliwal to talk about the shift to flexible work, and how protech — and the new world of utilization data that comes with it — can be a business boost for property owners who are open to embracing that flexible future.

“One opportunity that I see here is for the landlord ecosystem,” Morgan said of Upflex’s flexible workplace solutions, which include a global space network and data-driven booking platform. “I see a model in the future where owners are providing more flexibility, the ability to quickly up- and downsize based on core tenants’ needs.”

Morgan has worked in global real estate leadership, asset management and transactions for 25 years, including with CRE giants JLL and CBRE in Hong Kong, London and New York, and in his experience, it’s long been considered a challenge for global property owners to crack the code of flexible space offerings in a way that makes flex more efficient than long-term leases.

With Upflex, however, owners can easily gather and leverage to real-time utilization data. That capability is really is starting to walk owners in the direction offering flex arrangements in a way that is both cost-efficient for the tenant and profitable for the owner, Morgan said. Dhaliwal elaborates on how it works:

The landlord opportunity in the shift to flex

“It’s expected that over 5 million professionals will be using flexible spaces next year,” Dhaliwal said. “That’s a tremendous increase from just a couple years ago.”

For most companies, the percentage of a portfolio dedicated to flex space was just about 5 percent. That’s expected to grow tremendously in a short time. The organizations planning to dedicate at least half of their portfolio to flex space has increased by 34%, according to CBRE. And JLL research shows  flex space is going to represent 30% of the market by 2030.

According to Dhaliwal, this trend is tied to just how unpredictable the world feels right now. Companies are increasingly seeing the commitment required by a long-term office lease for desk workers as a risk they’re not so willing to take, she said.

“Landlords may not be feeling the impact yet, because they may still be sitting on leases,” Dhaliwal noted. “However, over the next couple of years, I do think most companies will not be signing five-year leases. Among the clients that we’re working with around the world, we’re seeing that companies who have the opportunity to end a long-term lease and find a shorter-term arrangement are taking that opportunity.”

Attracting people back into office spaces or buildings has been a real challenge for many landlords and corporates. Many people have realized they’re able to do their jobs from virtually anywhere, and when they leave home and enter into these office spaces there needs to be real purpose: for example, collaboration, productivity, community.

“As a landlord building community, you need to create more interesting amenities to offer your your tenants and their employees, to come back into your spaces,” Dhaliwal said. “I think there’s a tremendous opportunity where landlords have the ability to look at their real estate portfolio and consider where they might be able to introduce flex arrangements.”

Landlords who are open to new models, and to offering more flexible lease arrangements, are going to be at an advantage, she said. Here’s how Upflex is helping them pivot and build business as corporates train their sites on shorter leases and more flexible, scalable workspace models.

How Upflex is powering flex solutions for landlords

As work gets more distributed, and companies’ teams spread out around the world, tenants needs get more distributed, too. Through data and through a secure, easy-to-use booking platform that taps into our global space network, Dhaliwal explained, Upflex gives landlords the ability to maintain the tenant experience beyond their owned sites.

“For those employees that don’t want to make that commute or have other restrictions, the landlord is still able to have visibility into how those users are accessing spaces beyond their own headquarters, and be able to collect that data that goes beyond their own buildings, but still maintain that tenant relationship,” Dhaliwal said.

“In this new world, it’s not just about space,” she added. “It’s about your clients, and being able to service your clients in the places they need you. If they’re not coming to you, technology makes it possible for you to still go to them.”