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Providing flexibility and stability in uncertain times

James Lowery, Head of Storey, reflects on the current landscape and how Storey is well positioned for the future needs of the workspace.

Covid-19 is expected to trigger the acceleration of a range of real estate trends, not least the demand for greater flexibility and the ability to outsource real estate needs.

While some people have forecast tough times for the flexible workspace sector after the pandemic, the logical conclusion is that companies will want more scope for flexibility and more support to provide a safe and productive office environment.

If companies are unable to plan for the years ahead, flexible workspace will become an integrated part of future workspace strategies, rather than the traditional view of it being an interim solution.

At British Land, our Storey flexible workspace concept is well equipped to meet the evolving needs of our existing and future customers.

Our product is very distinct, we are not co-working. Storey provides flexible private offices; flex in terms of lease, size, design/configuration, and service. And our private offices are less densely occupied than many other flexible workspace operators, which will now be more valued than ever.

Storey allows customers to outsource their real estate. This means they can focus on running their business and leave the management of their workspace to us.

Our customers aren’t necessarily who you’d think they are, with our average customer employing more than 50 people and taking leases for longer than two years. For many we are providing their UK or European headquarters, and our customers range from successful scale ups to large multi-nationals who want a UK/European presence.

We also have established companies who lease core space on British Land campuses and need flex space for additional teams. For example, if they’ve acquired a small business whose own identity they want to keep, while bringing it closer to the parent company.

Unlike many flex operators, as part of British Land, we own all our buildings so we can more effectively manage the end to end user experience, providing customers with a better service and greater flexibility. This also gives us more agility as a business, as we’re not buying long leases and selling them on the short.

For any customer looking for an office, location is the first thing they think about. British Land has over 7m sq ft of offices in the best locations across London and that’s where we operate. These locations are typically campus based, where we have the ability to curate the environment outside the office as well as inside, making sure customers have access to the right food, drink and shopping experience on their doorstep.

What’s more, our workspaces are in high quality buildings that are exceptionally well maintained. That might sound like a small thing, but it makes a tremendous difference to our customers day to day.

Having a trusted, expert partner that manages all this on your behalf, is going to be ever more important.

Our overarching approach for Storey is to keep in conversation with our customers, understanding their business growth and being ready to support them with this when the time is right. Throughout the Covid 19 pandemic, this approach has benefitted all parties and the overwhelming customer feedback is that they really appreciate the support we’re giving and how we’ve worked with them; that we’ve listened to their needs and reacted quickly. This isn’t just for a pandemic, this is Storey.

In these challenging times, we are doing our best to minimise our service costs, adjusting service levels and passing on savings, while still looking after our supply chain. For smaller businesses most in need, we are going a little further, with some rent deferrals.

The underlying capability and principles of what Storey delivers are going to become even more important now. High quality workspace, reliable customer service, flexibility, amenity and long-term relationships.

We saw the blurring of flex and traditional real estate coming several years ago, which is why we created Storey. The current pandemic is likely to accelerate these trends and both British Land and Storey are in a strong position to offer a solution to evolving customer requirements in what will be the new norm.