Now back in its familiar May timeslot, the focus of the 2022 Flexible Space Association Conference was sustainability and wellbeing, topics that are playing an ever-greater priority for flexspace operators and their clients. So, with our team in attendance and being silver sponsors we decided to put together a blog of the five key takeaways from the FlexSA Conference 2022.
Data is key
At the 2021 FlexSA conference, during a breakout session technologywithin were hosting, there was a lot of discussion about IoT (the Internet of Things) and how sensors could be deployed to gather information about how the workspace was being used. So, it was great to see a panel at the 2022 event discussing this fascinating topic. The panellists talked about how operators can sometimes be afraid of tech as they don’t understand how it can be used to help benefit them. Adam Blaskey, Director of Produtiv said that operators frequently don’t know how their clients are using their space and by installing sensors and properly analysing the data they gather, it could give them a much clearer picture of the utilisation of their space.
The importance of good mental health
David O’Coimin, Founder & CEO at Nook Pod gave us a different perspective in his discussion on how workspace operators can support the needs of neurodivergent clients. He highlighted how some studies have shown that more open workspaces have reduced engagement levels. This emphasises the importance of offering mixed spaces that, alongside areas designed to encourage collaboration, also have areas that provide quieter, more focused areas for those who work better in those environments. David used the phrase ‘Design for the extreme, benefits the mean.’ This means that, by taking into account those with different needs when designing your space, can bring benefits to all of the workspace users.
Making the most of marketing
As at the 2021 event there were a number of breakout sessions for attendees to visit depending on what topic they were interested in. We decided to sit in on the session from our friends at Spaces to Places on making the most of your marketing budget. The session was led by Zoe Ellis Moore who started by getting everyone in the room to chat to the person next to them about what marketing methods their business used and what they found effective. This discussion moved onto talking about the importance of knowing your target clients and using the most effective methods to reach them. The phrase vanity or sanity was used to show that while you could spend thousands on online or print advertising, quite often another less expensive method could be more effective at reaching the people you want to attract to your space. Ultimately Zoe spoke of the importance of integrating your marketing plan into your wider company strategy to ensure its effectiveness.
How tech can affect client wellbeing
Using Technology to make a clients workspace experience the best it can be was a major discussion point for the panel looking at how technology impacts on the health and wellbeing of customers, staff, investors and owners. Both Celia Donne, Vice President, EMEA at IWG and Laura Shields, Sales Director at Uncommon agreed that using apps and innovative tech helped their clients enjoy the experience of using their space. Laura also talked about how Uncommon are using the Safe Workplaces app where any users of their spaces can quickly and easily report any incidents of discrimination. This helps to empower their clients and make them feel part of a larger community.
Sustainability is key
For the final panel of the day, the subject of sustainability was the focus. Entitled ‘Sustainable Flexible Workspaces – What Are Clients Looking For & How Can Operators Support This?’ the panel brought together some of the larger owners and operators of workspace in the UK to discuss how they were making their spaces and businesses more sustainable. The importance of collaboration was one of the biggest talking points, with all three panellists agreeing that working closely with their clients to provide data on the sustainability their workspace. James Manning, Senior Transformation Manager at Grosvenor Group noted that they frequently discuss with clients about the importance of looking at their wider operators alongside their workspace, to see how they can help to reduce their carbon footprint. Ariane Ephraim, Sustainability Manager at Workspace Group emphasised the importance of positive engagement with clients and how they use events and interactive activities to help build these engagement levels.
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