Barcelona, the fourth European city with the highest penetration of flexible offices

Barcelona, the fourth European city with the highest penetration of flexible offices

The stock of flexible offices in Europe will experience growth of just under 4% during 2023, which translates into an addition of approximately 300,000 square meters to the existing market, according to information provided by CBRE. Following its analysis, the consultancy firm notes that Barcelona is positioned as the fourth city on the continent with the highest penetration of flexible office space, reaching a 3.5% market presence. During the first quarter of 2024, flex office recruitment in Barcelona grew by 8% compared to the same period of the previous year, with a total of 2,303 workspaces contracted.

“The large presence of technology companies and startups in Barcelona, with a greater willingness to work remotely, are some of the reasons for the consolidation of the city as one of the world's leading companies in the field of remote work", has assured Salvador Aguilar, Head of Flex Office in Spain.

During 2023, general economic uncertainty impacted the European flex office sector, with a 42% decrease in hiring activity by operators for new space openings. This phenomenon showed regional variations, with a 21% growth in Central and Eastern Europe compared to a 46% contraction in contracted space in Western Europe.

Despite the challenges, the flexible office space sector saw a nearly 4% increase in capacity, adding 300,000 square meters to the market stock and making up 2.5% of total office space in Europe. The cities of London, Amsterdam and Rotterdam led the flex market with penetration rates of 10.1%, 4.8% and 3.6%, respectively.

Barcelona is placed as the fourth city in Europe with the highest presence of flexible office spaces, marking a 3.5% penetration rate, which represents a significant increase from the 2.4% recorded in 2020. After Barcelona, Brussels recorded 3.4%, followed by Warsaw with 3.2% and Prague with 3%. As for Madrid, it ranked in eleventh place, reaching 1.9%, up from 1.6% in 2020.

“The strong growth recorded in the last four years shows that operators are betting on solid expansion strategies, closely linked to market needs", added Salvador Aguilar, Head of Flex Office in Spain at CBRE.

In terms of pricing, Barcelona and Madrid offer some of the most competitive rates in Europe for office space, with prices ranging from €325 to €350 per desk per month. These rates are lower than the European average, which varies between €450 and €900 per month.

Barcelona is consolidating its position as one of the leading markets in Europe in terms of flexible office penetration.

During the first quarter of the year, agreements were signed for 2,303 new spaces in Barcelona, representing an 8% increase compared to the same period last year. This growth has led the city's flexible office market to experience a year-on-year expansion of 3.6%, totaling 231,015 square meters through the first quarter of 2024. Although the average occupancy rate has dipped slightly from 81% to 78%, the occupancy rate has remained stable for several quarters and the overall outlook remains favorable.

The industry maintains a confident outlook as CBRE notes, with operators continuing to open centers in key locations. The establishment of more than 200 new flex offices in the last quarter keeps the presence of flex office space in Barcelona at 3.5%, consolidating the city as one of Europe's leading markets in terms of flex office penetration.

According to Aguilar, “by 2024 we expect the positive trend we have been recording to continue, confirming the great interest being generated by the Flex sector in our country. Operators, who have strengthened the occupancy of their centers, continue to explore new locations where they can expand and we will see throughout the year the incorporation of new square meters for flexible spaces. We are at a point where the health of the market is enviable, with consolidated occupancies in several quarters above 80%. In addition, the sector represents a workspace model that responds to the changing needs of companies".

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