A Closer Look at South Florida’s Flexible Office Market

Timothy Locke, director of network development at IWG, touches on trends in the coworking environment as well as how the region fits the company’s expansion plans.
Timothy Locke, Director, IWG

As people continue to revolutionize the way office work is defined, coworking is gaining more ground across the U.S. Miami has been spearheading the growth of flexible workspaces in Florida. According to a recent Yardi Matrix survey, the metro comes third after Manhattan and Portland regarding coworking space as a percentage of total office stock with 2.4 percent. 

Timothy Locke, director of network development at International Workplace Group—owner of Regus and Spaces, shared his views on the current trends in the South Florida flexible office market and how the region fits the company’s expansion plans. 

Spaces will soon open more coworking spaces in South Florida. Why this region?

Locke: South Florida is quickly establishing itself as an entrepreneurial epicenter, underscoring a strong need for flexible office space that can accommodate on-the-rise startups, as well as the wide variety of already established entities. Spaces will be able to provide a community where a diverse mix of businesses of all sizes can grow and thrive while also feeling comfortable building their own culture.

When will the South Florida locations open? How will these new openings impact the South Florida office market?

Locke: The South Florida locations include Spaces Miami Central Square in Miami, which opened on February 19; Spaces Las Olas Square, Ft. Lauderdale, which will open on March 11; Spaces Wynwood Cube in Miami scheduled for opening in May and Spaces One Coco Walk, Miami, which is expected to open in October.

There are a lot of coworking companies currently in the South Florida market. Spaces’ mission is to create a collaborative approach to flexible working, with dynamic coworking spaces designed to foster connections and creativity. Additionally, Spaces offers something that other flexible work providers cannot, which is scale. And in today’s market, scale is crucial. When a business joins the Spaces community, they not only get access to each of the Spaces locations throughout Florida, but they will also gain entry to more than 60 million secure Wi-Fi hotspots and more than 9,000 professional meeting spaces around the world through the IWG network of flexible workspace companies—as IWG owns Spaces, as well as Regus.

What strategy do you use when choosing a location?

Locke: Our first step when looking for a space is to identify key areas where we anticipate industry growth. From there, we take a look at what neighborhoods are emerging and fit into our Spaces strategy. We want locations in vibrant areas with great surrounding amenities and easy access to restaurants, entertainment, retail shops and transportation. As far as buildings are concerned, we often look for spaces that can be formatted to fit a variety of office sizes, have plenty of natural light and can be outfitted with amenities that will encourage collaboration and foster connections.

What are the features or amenities a coworking space shouldn’t lack in 2019?

Locke: One of our goals at Spaces is to ensure that startups, small business owners and more established entities can focus on growing their companies without the distraction of office logistics. We outfit all our locations with ultra-fast, secure Wi-Fi, concierge-level services and an attentive staff to assist with ongoing needs. At Spaces, we also believe it’s important to create community areas, like a business club that has open seating and a coffee bar to encourage collaboration. It’s important to cater to the core professional needs of our members, but also consider additional amenities that create a more rich, community-driven experience.

The coworking sector has become a competitive space. What other challenges do you deal with as a flexible workspace provider and how do you overcome them?

Locke: IWG kickstarted the coworking revolution 30 years ago and we have the benefit of three decades of experience. Many providers are coming in and starting these spaces from outside industries. One of the largest hurdles I’ve seen is figuring out the proper resource allocation to have members keep coming back. Owners often lean into what they like or what they think their members like, versus taking the time to understand what the people working in their space want and need. At Spaces, we’re invested in creating a dynamic environment that elevates creativity and fosters connections. At Regus, for instance, we’re focused on productivity and everything we do is driven by a desire to help companies be as productive as possible.

How do you see the coworking trend going forward?

Locke: We have continued to see an increase in demand for coworking. Businesses across the country are turning toward flexible work solutions that have scale so they can move people into a new market quickly or adjust up or down as needed. It also helps companies stay close to suppliers or customers, and they can do all of this without committing to long leases or relocation costs, which brings great strategic agility.

Our parent company, IWG, released data in 2018, which involved more than 18,000 professionals from a range of different sectors. They spoke to us about how they view flexible workspace, and the results suggest that a tipping point is coming for the industry. Ninety percent of U.S. respondents believe flexible working helps their business stay competitive, 90 percent said it helps them grow and 84 percent said it helps them create a presence in new markets. Additionally, 81 percent believe flexible working helps employees be more productive. Those numbers are staggering, and I think more and more employees and companies are recognizing the immense benefits that flexible and coworking spaces offer.

Spaces has locations in different states in the U.S., as well as in many different countries across the globe. What other markets are you considering for your next expansion and why?

Locke: Our immediate focus is on expanding our companies into communities where there is a strong need for flexible workspace environments, as more businesses start moving toward a flexible workspace model. As we continue to grow and foster a diverse mix of clients, we’re also focused on giving companies a place where they can thrive and create their own culture. This means we must be agile and dynamic while making long-term decisions that fit our company strategy.

We plan to continue to increase Spaces’ presence in established entrepreneurial ecosystems such as Miami, New York, and Washington, D.C. Additionally, extensions into the areas surrounding these urban markets is a key component of our growth strategy. Spaces is one of the only coworking companies that is very focused on addressing this rising need for flexible and inspiring workspaces in more suburban areas. Plans call for openings in numerous secondary and tertiary markets including West Hartford, Conn., Alpharetta, Ga., and Alexandria, Va.

Image courtesy of IWG