The recent growth of coworking spaces in Spain is helping to drive change within the country’s property market, as larger companies start to reap the benefits that these workplaces hold.
Teo Manzano, director of marketing and product development at office furniture solutions company Steelcase, says the main real-estate companies in Spain have begun focusing on co-working spaces as they have realised that the workplace “should become a destination”.
“Leaders should design workspaces offering a palette of different spaces where workers can find everything they need to thrive,” he says. “Companies are thinking about how to make the workplace more available to workers.” This means having offices that are closer to people's homes, especially in larger cities. “This is what co-working spaces offer – a place, closer to where you live, where you can meet other professionals and learn from different teams,” he adds.
And coworking spaces have “grown significantly” in the past few years, Manzano adds. In fact, recent data shows the use of co-working spaces in Barcelona and Madrid alone increased by 71% between January and September last year, compared to the same period the previous year.
The data, from Cushman & Wakefield, shows a total of 26,800 square metres of co-working spaces were hired out in Madrid during the period, while 29,100 square metres of flexible work spaces were rented in Barcelona.
The report highlights that, in the early 2000s, it was freelancers who dominated the smaller coworking spaces, but this has changed over the years. “Today, these spaces continue to exist, but the potential of the co- phenomenon has caused multinational companies such as Santander's Openbank, Accenture and Everis, among others, to also use flexible spaces to allocate part of their activity,” the report states.
IWG, the world’s largest workspace provider, has long established its operating brands Regus and Spaces in Spain. In June the company was awarded the Workplace Barcelona prize for its commitment to developing flexible offices in the country. Currently there are a dozen Regus and Spaces locations in Barcelona and more than 20 in Madrid, with others situated in Malaga, Seville, Marbella, Valencia and Palma de Mallorca.
As IWG Spain’s country manager, Philippe Jiménez explains: “The objective of the company is to reach 450 centres in the coming years, which would mean an investment of more than €450m in flexible office spaces in Spain.”
But it's not only the property market that has undergone significant changes in this industry. Manzano, who gave a talk at the recent Workplace_BCN brokers event on the topic of hyper-collaboration, says people have been living through the development of a completely new way of working.
“Teams are under more pressure than ever, expected to untangle complex problems, deliver fantastic results and do it all faster than their competitors,” he says. “Today’s teams are hyper-collaborators who navigate a fluid, fast-paced flow of interdependent ideas, redefining both teamwork and ‘me’ work.”
At Steelcase, people believe that those who work in teams innovate faster, achieve better results and report higher job satisfaction. But, says Manzano, “Teams can’t boost their whole potential if they don't have the right tools, or the tools are not as fluid, accessible, flexible, and as able to hack as they need. This is why the workplace is key for implementing a hyper-collaboration culture in an organisation. The workplace becomes a strategic lever.”
Manzano believes the key to supporting individuals and teams properly is to give them more say about their work experience, which includes their privacy levels, their overall space, and the technology they need to use to do their jobs. “Giving people more control over their environment will take a significant mind-shift for leaders and organisations used to thinking of their workplace as relatively fixed,” he says. And for businesses in Spain, the change appears to be well on its way.
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