In this challenging time as COVID-19 impacts workplace operations globally, we break down how occupiers can engage with flexible workspace operators, as both a near-term business continuity solution and longer-term way of working for enterprises. We also set out steps for flexible workspace operators on how to maintain operations and protect the health and wellbeing of members at this time.

To access all of our insights and recommendations on the impact of COVID-19 across global real estate markets please visit:

Near-Term: Business Continuity for Occupiers

The risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists across all workplace environments. Unless a flexible workspace operator has implemented heightened health and safety protocols, the exposure risk in a flexible workspace is just as high, if not higher, than a traditional office.

However, many flexible workspaces are taking drastic measures to maintain strong hygiene and social distancing (more on this below), and so there may be specific ways to leverage the sector as part of your business continuity efforts. Depending on your business you may need to utilize a selection of these, rather than just one:

We encourage occupiers to both build up tools and capabilities to enable their employees to work from home and explore workplace contingency plans with flexible workspace operators. Our regional experts can help you create and execute a multi-layered approach, reach out to Jonathan Wright (Asia), Tom Sleigh (EMEA), Francesco De Camilli (Americas), and Jonathan Kearins (ANZ) for more advice.

Long-term Implications: What We’re Tracking in a New Occupier Future

While it is too early to forecast the lasting effects of COVID-19 on flexible workspace, this pandemic is certain to impact both occupiers’ and operators’ future response plans and corporate real estate approach. Here are some of the key outcomes we will be tracking:

COVID-19 Operator Recommendations: Response and Readiness

Our experts in each region have consulted with leading operators responding to the current situation to summarise recommendations for response and readiness in flexible workspace. Junny Lee, CEO of The Work Project, one of the largest premium operators in Singapore, a region affected early on by COVID-19, shared the following practical steps for operators to take:

Paul Salnikow, CEO of The Executive Centre, who has led the business for 25 years and has ensured operational resilience through SARS and the GFC offered the following advice to the sector:

“We, as operators, act as a support system to our members and our focus, first and foremost, is to be safely open and operational in order to allow for business at our locations to continue. At TEC, we have 135+ locations in 32 cities across APAC and we have learnt to adapt our response across each market to ensure that we take the best care possible of both our members and our teams, depending on the local situation. Operators should follow the directives of global health bodies like WHO, maintain the highest of safety standards such as regular deep cleaning and sanitation of all locations, provide masks to all centre staff, as well as regularly check members’ and guests’ temperature before entry, and document whether they have recently visited any high-risk cities. The number one goal of TEC, and any operator, particularly at this challenging time, should be to ensure  we do everything possible to help our members to continue to run their businesses in a healthy and safe environment.”

Additional risk-mitigation measures and recommendations for operators around the world:

Operational Management Tips for Operators

In addition to the practical protocols outlined above, we recommend taking the following steps to manage your business through this challenging time:

With Thanks to our Contributors:
Junny Lee – CEO, The Work Project
Paul Salnikow – CEO, The Executive Centre
John Arenas – CEO, Serendipity Labs
Amol Sarva – CEO, Knotel
Clive Dale – Founder, Bioom
David Wong – Co-Founder, Booqed
Dr. Richard Claydon – CEO, roundPegz
Edward Farrelly – Senior Vice President, Marsh
Amanda Chuback – Client Engagement Manager, MovePlan
Allan Price – Director of Development, 4U Systems
Rhys Morgan – Regional Manager, Airswift
Camille Merritt – VP, Eden
Liz Elam – Founder, GCUC
Ben Wright – CEO, Upsuite

About the Authors:

Jonathan Wright leads Colliers’ Flexible Workplace Consulting throughout the Asia Pacific market; he founded this business line in 2016 to support our occupier, operator and asset owner clients in leveraging the growing and dynamic sector.



Tom Sleigh joined Colliers in 2019 as Head of Flexible Workplace Consultancy in the EMEA region. He supports occupier clients in the execution of their flexible workspace strategy and requirements, in addition to advising flexible operators on their expansion strategy throughout EMEA.



Jonathan Kearins leads Colliers’ Flexible Workspace Consulting in ANZ. Jonathan covers the Australian markets, delivering creative solutions to our occupier and operator clients.