“Flexibility and agility aren’t going anywhere,” exclaimed Rubin Beckner, Director of Operations for Venture X, a high-quality provider of flexible space for business professionals.
Speaking to today’s increased demand for this flexibility and agility, Rubin also noted that this wasn’t always a desire in the work world.
In fact, since Venture X’s inception in 2012 and then coming on board in 2018, Rubin has first-hand seen and experienced major changes in the flex office industry.
“Venture X was founded by the Diamond family,” said Rubin.
“The story as I recall it, is Brett, the son, was traveling around the world and he ended up popping into a coworking space and came back from his travels to Florida and told his dad, ‘We’ve got to figure out a way to do this.’”
Henceforth, Venture X’s first location was opened in Naples, Florida in 2012.
After the opening of its first location, Venture X continued to grow in 2016 when, “… the Diamond family approached the Titus family – with United Franchise Group – and they then began franchising as a business model,” explained Rubin.
When Rubin joined Venture X in 2018, the flex office provider was still in its infancy, with just five open locations at the time.
“When I came on board, … we didn’t really understand how to work well with commercial brokers, with web brokers, or [with] referral sites,” Rubin explained.
“I wanted to really expand our network in working with more referral sources because the name of the game is sales. The more leads we have, the more opportunities we have to close them,” he added.
Since his arrival in 2018, Rubin has seen a dramatic change in the relationship between Venture X and third parties like commercial brokers, web brokers, and referral sites.
In addition to working with brokers and third–party listing sites, Venture X joined PON in 2019 expanding their market reach for enterprise business opportunities.
While not a commercial broker, web broker, or referral site, Venture X’s partnership with PON made its portfolio of curated workspace options available to PON clients – especially to PON’s Fortune 1000 clients seeking multi-market workspace options.
The partnership with PON brought Venture X’s portfolio of curated workspace options to PON clients – specifically Fortune 1000 companies – seeking multi-market workspace options.
“When I first started in this industry, good luck getting commercial brokers to pay you the time of the day or to send you leads because we were more of an afterthought to them,” he explained.
“They were focused on signing those long-term leases where they got the most money and commission out of, so it was understandable.”
But now, with the ramifications that 2020 has wrought upon physical interaction, Rubin and his team – and many other flex office providers – have seen a massive uptick in the demand for flexibility within lease terms.
Suddenly, the once-attractive 5, 10, or even 20-year long-term office space leases are looking less desirable for large corporate users.
Given today’s unpredictability, conversations about utilizing shorter, more flexible terms are now entering the narratives of many boardrooms.
“That mentality, the way they [enterprise companies] look at us has changed a lot, mostly in fact that the corporations are now dictating that they [commercial brokers] now look at more flexible-term options,” Rubin sad.
“The audience has changed. When we first started it was [mainly] small businesses and entrepreneurs and now we have huge corporation clients that have flexible space all over the world,” he added.
Along with this change in audience and desired lease term length, COVID-19 also pushed Venture X to offer new products to members that met another new demand during the pandemic.
It was Venture X’s pivot to offer more virtual office products that helped to cope with a loss in occupancy and with the departure of members.
“Early in the pandemic last year, we went to all our owners and our franchisees and said, ‘look, this is going to change some things,” Rubin explained.
“Occupancy is going to dip; we’re going to possibly lose some members and have less occupied spaces so what we need to do as a brand is untether our product offerings from the physical limitations of our space.”
This, ‘untethering product offerings from the limitations of physical space,’ literally meant creating products that members could utilize, without having to step foot in a Venture X location.
“We as a brand, have seen probably about four or five times the amount of revenue from virtual services than we ever had before because of 2020 and that’s growing everyday now,” Rubin exclaimed.
“We now offer phone answering services – something we never offered before and a variety of differently tiered virtual plans that really set us up for success at the right time when the demand was increasing,” he added.
Now, as we slowly but surely begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing desire to ‘work from anywhere’ has emerged.
‘Work from anywhere’ is exactly what it implies – it’s an evolved approach where employees have no physical ties to a corporate office but rather can work wherever they desire, with any combination of hybrid, remote, or in-person work.
“The thought that corporate companies must be in a downtown area to attract the best talent in the market is not necessarily the case anymore,” Rubin added.
“You have this trend [emerge] of the hub-and-spoke model where you have your corporate hub and then all these little spokes. I think that is now evolving to the WFA – the work from anywhere movement,” he said.
“I think within the next 12-24 months, more corporations are going to start subsidizing their employees cost of finding their own workspace,” added Rubin.
With a growing desire for flexible office space and for employees to work wherever they please, we asked Rubin how Venture X are now deciding to add new locations to its portfolio as it gears up for an important 2021 and beyond.
“We like to look at the walkability of the space, we look at its access to logistical type information as far as how people are going to commute to it, is it easy to get to, does it have access to public transportation,” Rubin explained.
“Then you look at the affluence of the area as well. Are there a lot of business owners in this demographic? Is this an affluent community?”
“At Venture X, we’re not a low-cost provider of office space, we’re more of luxury or higher end so we have to really find the right location to make or break the establishing of a new location,” he added.
Hoping to make a comeback in 2021 is the holistic approach to a day in the office where tenants don’t just go into work.
Their workday is complemented by having access to various dining options and then even having access to a fitness center before, during, or after a workday.
Venture X is also making these considerations as it prepares to accommodate tenants of the future.
“Of course, the building amenities and the area amenities are important as well,” Rubin exclaimed.
“Access to trendy restaurants, does the building have a gym, does it have a day care close by – all these things are going to help add to the member value and that overall value proposition,” he said.
As for the overall future of the flex office industry, Rubin is quietly excited for these new demands to continually convert into more new leads and closed business for providers like Venture X.
“I’m a firm believer that as soon as you start introducing flexibility and agility into the office, I don’t know if there’s a way back from that – I really don’t see corporations going back to wanting to sign long-term 10, 20-year office leases,” Rubin exclaimed.
Rubin closed out by saying, “I think this flexibility and agility that’s been introduced into the commercial office leasing market is here to stay.”
“It’s only going to increase in demand and prevalence.”
Become a member of PON and you’ll be a workplace option for companies as they look for flexible office space that supports whatever the future of work may look like.