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Expert Insights - The Future of Flexible Office

Author: Aaron Jodka

By Aaron Jodka | May 2020

Expert Insights_masthead image_with title

Expert Insights_Aaron JodkaWith restrictions on the U.S. workforce easing, including Boston’s, the office market is in flux. Tenants who need to get up and running quickly or have to vacate their current home due to a lease expiration face a clear challenge. However, flexible office space provides a solution. We reached out to Mark Wiatrowski at Boston Offices to get his perspective on today’s conditions.

Mark, can you give us a bit of your background?Boston Offices
I joined HQ Business Centers (some might remember them as Headquarters Companies) right out of college in D.C. I have focused on private offices and virtual office services ever since.

I chaired the national telecommuting association’s 2000 “The World Is Our Workplace” conference in New Orleans. I convinced a then-little-known company from the UK called Regus to send a speaker. Turns out he was the guy who negotiated Regus’ first Boston leases at 470 Atlantic & 225 Franklin.

Equity’s Fast Office product was an innovation at that time.

Anyone hear an echo?

What does Boston Offices provide?
Business-class private offices, suites, and virtual offices powered by a local focused staff. For our eight-plus desk clients, we install private meeting rooms, move walls, doors, and let them brand the space to their needs. Boston Offices is the uncola of coworking. We are coworking for company teams in private company suites.

Recently, our meeting room business (featuring Zoom Room systems) was growing.

What are you hearing from space occupiers today?
Immediate need to cut costs. Our business-class focus has us less exposed to the startup segment that seems to be losing funding very quickly. De-densification is also on their minds. Our focus on private offices and low-density team rooms is an advantage today. Our desk systems have work surface sizes that are easy to swap – to extend personal space. These desk packs can also be unpacked into independent units. People are also concerned with their loss of privacy in their work-from-home environments. The firewall between work and one’s privacy has been diminished. Many people are looking to get that firewall back.

We are ready!

What cleaning procedures have you put in place to keep your clients safe?
We occupy Class A buildings. We benefit from their stepped-up cleaning and operational detail. We also tripled our regular wipe-down procedures. Our hands are raw!

For groups that need to get into space quickly, how can you help?
Instant options on flexible terms:

  • Two 20-to-35-desk corner suites available at 53 State.

  • Two 5-to-10-person team rooms at 53 State.

  • Five private window offices available on the 26th floor of One Boston Place.

Some users like one desk per office, some three desks. We just added a new flexible sit-stand desk option.

How do you see this all playing out for flexible office providers? There is a lot of skepticism in the market.
I have been skeptical since 1990! Only today are we seeing a real effort by building owners, a la Studio (Studio is Tishman Speyer’s flexible space offering).

Smart tenants (and their brokers) will be asking who is going to be transparent and flexible now and during the occupancy term. It’s about the relationship.

I can imagine two scenarios in the next two quarters:

  1. For small independents, they will try to exit. I get it. The first line item a small business will try to dump is fixed costs like rent, and that will hurt us.

  2. For mid-sized companies looking to minimize fixed costs, however, our flexible model may appeal. They can still get a downtown tower address without making a 5–10-year lease commitment.

We’re hoping for the second scenario!

How does Boston Offices price its space?
Budget $700 to $850 per desk for private suites; $2,500 for a window office on the 26th floor. Class A staff and perks (building perks too) included. If you hire a good broker you will do better!

What’s the best way for tenants to get in touch with you?
www.BostonOffices.com. We are answering our clients’ phones, this week remotely. Someone is on site every day for USPS, etc. 617-419-7100 or markw@bostonoffices.com.

 

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