To conclude International Womens Week we asked a selection of our female employees to talk about their experiences in the flexible workspace industry and to discuss a range of topics with a female focus. Kevin Tewis-Allen, CMO Office Freedom asked the questions. Here’s what they said …
Q. How has the commercial property industry changed in recent years and is it female friendly enough?
“So many aspects of this industry have changed, certainly since I started back in 2003 in a very small brokerage. At that time, there was less than 100 serviced office buildings in Central London – we now have over 850!”
Early on in my career, I worked at Regus in the City. Funnily enough, my team was made up of all women and one guy, however the majority of clients coming in to view and making the decisions were men. I feel that it’s much more even now. I’ve been back to Office Freedom three times, after a maternity leave and a sabbatical. We have an amazing infrastructure now that allows working mums the flexibility they need to balance childcare and work. I feel lucky to be working in this modern world where as a female and a mother, I am able to have the freedom to work in a much more flexible way, something I feel that the coworking and flexible office market has hugely contributed to. I’ve also seen lots of progression for females who are now in Director and Senior Management roles, such as our lovely Sheena Patel!”
Q. How has the office, and in particular flex space, changed over the years?
“It’s become more casual, no longer all suit and ties and boring corporate offices. It’s ever changing, it’s fast paced. More beautiful spaces, with stunning breakout areas, are opening every month. You can even bring your dog into some flex spaces, which is great for staff wellness. Landlords are starting to understand more too. Fin-Tech companies and large Corporates are all moving into flexible offices rather than taking long leases, so more landlords are converting their buildings and managing them as an all-inclusive offering on shorter term lets.”
Q. What’s one thing you have liked about the industry?
“The way companies are embracing the flexible office space concept. Nowadays, when companies have large office space requirements, they are no longer jumping straight into traditional leasing and they come to us to explore the options. It’s amazing how the industry is evolving. Flexible office spaces offer massive savings because there is no need to fit out the space, no need to spend on dilapidations when they leave and no need to rent too much space – just the amount they need. There are plenty of communal areas that now provide a habitat that supports staff wellness, contentment, productivity and success.”
Q. Are there any women in the industry that you really look up to or inspire you?
“Yes, Katrina Larkin, Co-Founder of Fora Space. Fora elevates modern working life and has changed the flexible office market by being hospitality and wellness focused, offering a five-star experience. As soon as I walked into the first Fora building a couple of years ago I was blown away, and now I am lucky to be able to say I work in a Fora building and I’m loving It.”
“It would be great to see more women in senior roles and a more diverse workforce. As was highlighted in our recent market report, there is a growing trend in new tech verticals such as Fash-Tech (Fashion) which we hope will allow more women to shine as role models, who can then mentor younger women getting started in the industry.”
Q. Our latest Central London market report found that only 30.5% of procurement decision makers were women. Does that surprise you, what do you think is shaping that number?
“I spend a lot of time with CEOs, Founders, etc and the vast majority are men. I am also a member of a few members clubs and in most of them the majority of the membership is male. On the other hand, there are a few members clubs which are women only and at this moment in time, I think it is a great way for women to meet other successful women, creating communities where they can mentor each other and share experiences – it is a way of empowering women and will help catch up on all the years we didn’t have a say.”
Q.With beauty and fashion brands now expanding into flexible workspaces, do you think it’s time for more women to be CEO’s?
“Absolutely yes. This is slowly changing and great to hear that more women are in powerful positions and collectively we feel that this is a positive to our industry.”