Will This Office Trend Revolutionize the Way We Monetize Extra Space?

The office industry is feeling the effects of a new trend: non-traditional real estate spaces that are proving to be a major disruptor. These spaces offer several variants of niche-y uses: temporary meeting space, event spaces, and conference rooms that would otherwise have been leased or rented through a landlord.

Other variations on this theme include coffee shops with meeting rooms and local restaurants that open their doors early for business brunches and lunch-and-learn meetings. So where is this trend headed?

Known as third-party non-core real estate providers, those offering such non-traditional space have the goal of providing a case-by-case temporary solution to employers while at the same time giving office occupiers the freedom to cut costs through measures such as eliminating extra square footage.

With office demand falling in the first quarter 2017 – and net absorption tumbling 39 percent year over year – the sector is seeing the least amount of space absorbed in the last half a decade. As a result, the demand for third-party providers is seeing a jump, with more and more providers hopping on the bandwagon.

Take, for example, the event space liaison Bizly, which in April debuted its online platform connecting corporations to multiple available venues offering space for purposes including meetings and events. For example, a Bizly user can book an on-demand meeting space in a luxury hotel, hitting at the oft-repeated truism that space can go underused in the hospitality industry.

Some consider Bizly a real-estate counterpart to an internet travel agency since much like the travel world, it goes through a variety of venues – hotels, restaurants, golf clubs, bowling alleys, and more – to allow users to book meeting and event space.

Thus far Bizly has seen some measure of success, with more than 400 hotels signing on the dotted line. These include such major brands as the Four Seasons and Starwood, Bizly co-founder and CEO Ron Shah told Bisnow, adding that the platform has managed to raise $1.5 million in venture capital and plans another fundraising round in the near future.

“We’ve seen a great increase in adoption as more employees use the platform,” Shah told the publication. “That’s our goal – to continue to build on our features to make sure we can serve all the needs for adoption.”

Fast Company also has ideas for using your untapped office space after hours. These include:

·      Book groups. Literature lovers have to meet somewhere, so why not your office? These groups are often drawn by access to comfortable, spacious surroundings and convenient conference rooms.

·      Night care for children. Day care is all well and good, but what about the children of shift workers? Working creatively, office space can be transformed into a useful, safe place for children to spend time while their parents are at work.

·      Professional development training. With workers often being urged to hone and improve their skills, it may be a good idea for companies to put their money (or in this case, space) where their mouth is.