(photo: Copernico)
19.03.2021, 13:22

Flex Space and London's 'Doughnut' Boroughs

Cal Lee, global head of Savills venture Workthere, comments on predictions from UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak of a rise in hybrid and flexible working in London's local hubs when the pandemic ends.


Rishi Sunak has predicted a rise in hybrid or flexible working in local hubs once the pandemic is over. Speaking on the Politico Westminster Insider podcast on 11th March, he cited the rise of "neighbourhood" serviced offices springing up across New York, and thinks these small local hubs for people who want to avoid the commute but don't want to work at home is something that should be picked up in the UK. 


This is a trend already being seen across the capital, with the London boroughs and residential hot-spots that sit in the doughnut around the city centre, experiencing a significant increase in demand for flexible offices over the last year. 


The Workthere's index of web searches for flexible space pre- (from  1st Jan 2020 until 15th March 2020) and post- (from 16th March 2020 to 26th August 2020) lockdown, reveals searches for flexible office spaces in London boroughs have soared, increasing by 669 per cent in Clapham, 413 per cent in Harrow and 327 per cent in Stratford, Lewisham, London Fields and Tottenham.


This rise in interest for serviced and coworking space outside of Central London is a clear indicator of businesses and, in particular, individuals wanting a workspace closer to home.  


The trend of wanting to combine a workspace closer to home with going into a main central office has inevitably been accelerated over the last eight months and we are now starting to see this come to fruition with demand levels rising for more suburban locations.  


London borough 

% change in searches** 









London Fields 








Notting Hill 





Additionally, as the above table shows, despite the fact demand is increasing for these less central London boroughs, Clapham currently only has two existing co-working spaces in situ, whilst Stratford has four and Wimbledon only one.  


Central London is - and will continue to be a leading global hub for flexible office space with large and independent providers well represented across the City and West End markets. However, given that demand levels for more suburban locations are increasing by such substantial levels, we would expect to see more of these names look to establish a presence in wider London boroughs and take advantage of the current imbalance between supply and demand. 


Whilst this trend is already evident in London, Workthere expects to see other cities in the UK follow suit. The 'hub and spoke' model has been proven to have liitations, and is perhaps too rigid a model for uber-mobile working generations of today. Instead, the recently conceived 'hub and roam' model allows for increased employee freedom, building on the idea of a central hub and its corresponding spokes, hub and roam does not dictate where these spokes should be. Instead, employees are encouraged to work from wherever suits them best to achieve ultimate productivity. This might be from home, from a nearby café, a hotel foyer, under utilised retail spaces or even from a local flexible office.  


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