Your complete guide to compare the flexible and serviced office market in Ireland.
As the name implies, "Flexible" office space is a tool businesses have at their disposal to manage costs during periods of rapid growth or contraction or just during uncertain times. As we've observed in other markets, when Covid restrictions ease, pent-up demand for quality flexible office space comes quickly. In our view, the demand for high quality offices can be attributed to both greater affordability and businesses desire to entice staff back to a great place to work, with an emphasis on collaboration and productivity.
And as businesses of all sizes adapt to a hybrid model for their teams, flexible workspaces provide a meaningful alternative to the traditional long term commercial leases. Rather than negotiating a three or five year commitment, serviced offices offer six, twelve or twenty four month terms to suit the needs of businesses facing rapid growth or uncertain times.
If you’re looking for flexible office space for 50 people or less, there are hundreds of turnkey private offices across Ireland with Dublin.
A key starting point for many businesses is budget and the Rubberdesk research team has compared the major locations to look at the median office rate per month per person. Using the Rubberdesk platform and examining real time availability and pricing we are able to bring together the most thorough comparison possible. Here is where businesses can compare the entire market from Dublin 1 to Dublin 4, Cork and Limerick.
At a macro level, the median desk rental price across Ireland is €500.00 in a private office and €299.00 for a hot desk in a shared space.
|Median Office Rate Per Person||Median Coworking Desk Rate||Flex Floorspace Available (sqm)||Available Desk Capacity|
|Prices and availability effective February 28, 2022|
While these prices and capacity give you a sense of the total market, it's important to break down each city to get a true sense of cost and availability, as prices vary considerably by location. As the chart below shows, Dublin is the most expensive per desk/person per month for private office space with Limerick and Cork offering more affordable options.
The below report drills down into the detail of the office spaces available and provides the most comprehensive and up to date analysis of Flexible Office space anywhere. We’ve analysed every office available across Ireland and used Rubberdesk's real-time availability and pricing to build the most accurate picture of the Flexible and Serviced Office market. And because Rubberdesk has thousands of hosts listing their office space for rent, it’s the best place to compare the market.
So, here’s what we’ve looked at:
For any type of office, whether in a converted warehouse or a premium office building, location often dictates the price. When we dive into the data, key suburbs in Dublin like the CBD are by far the most expensive areas in Ireland to rent office space. If budgets are tight as they are for many startups and may well be for many other companies as they return to the office post-pandemic there are plenty of locations in other suburbs and regions the that can save thousands per month.
Up until 2008, most commercial rental agreements were conducted on a fixed yearly basis for 5 to 10 years forcing companies to lock into long-term arrangements that may or may not fit the growth plans for the business. If a business grew or shrunk, it was at the mercy of breaking contract or lease re-assignment. The past two years have shown how even the best laid plans can go awry and in times of great uncertainty short term rental commitments are proving advantageous to businesses.
With the explosion of the startup ecosystem and the coinciding growth of coworking and serviced offices, flexible terms became popular for many small businesses who didn’t have the budget or inclination to be locked into a long-term lease. Today, businesses of any size, from one to a hundred-plus staff have the option to sign more flexible agreements for a year at a time. This means that now, for the first time, the duration of tenancy commitment can match the certainty each business has about its plans and fit their immediate need with room to grow, resize or even relocate as required. For those businesses facing too much uncertainty and risk, there are even month-to-month agreements available for both coworking operators and traditional businesses who have spare office space to rent.
Flexible office spaces provide a lot more flexibility with their payment options, minimising the upfront costs normally associated with fit-out and furnishing as well as smaller bonds than are typically required by lease agreements. Month-to-month agreements offer the most flexibility, but also come at a premium of anywhere from 10-20% for the ability to terminate at the end of the current month. As might be expected, a longer-term commitment tends to attract the biggest discounts with 12 months being the sweet spot. In fact, right now we’re seeing deals offering 40% discounts when signing a 12-month agreement to entice companies back after the pandemic.
As the Flexible and Serviced Office market has grown, so too has the choice available to tenants. Now the market offers everything from premium grade buildings with funky fitouts and access to shared facilities and services to more budget options. We've a plethora of options available from fully-managed office operators including local boutique operators such as The Tara Building and Pembroke Hall to large internal players such as WeWork and Regus (owned by IWG) and everything in between including operators like Iconic Offices and Prosperity Chambers. From desks and chairs, to printing and amenities such as showers and bike racks, these fully managed operators provide everything you need at a single monthly price with the option to add more desks or downsize the space as needed.
A commercial office space on the other hand generally requires a much longer commitment (often 3-5 years) and comes with extra costs such for furniture, electricity, IT, maintenance and cleaning. In addition, a traditional lease often includes costs for space you never end up using such as the lobby.
It's fair to say that the comparison of Managed Flexible Office Space to traditional Commercial Leases is like comparing apples and oranges. There are a number of differences between the two and each wins in their own regards. We'll save a comparison of the relative merits of each style for another time.
Though many coworking operators have rates specifically for a single desk in an open plan space available, these generally represent less than 5% of the available spaces. Private and customised offices make up the vast majority of Flex space rented. These private offices typically share communal facilities such as meeting rooms, bathrooms, and kitchen areas but are self-contained and fully serviced.
When looking at office size, the smaller private spaces of fewer than 10 desks account for 71% of all available space. This is somewhat in response to demand for smaller private spaces by businesses that are looking for safe places for their employees to work away from HQ or home and with new physical distancing guidelines becoming the norm, we expect the operators to alter open plan coworking spaces into more private small offices.
Though larger offices for 50 plus people make up only 6% of the available offices, they represent 47% of all available floor space. Depending on where demand sits moving forward, these larger offices of course could be carved into smaller spaces as required emphasising the flexibility of modern office space in this sector.
Prior to the pandemic, flexible desk space was a popular choice for many individuals looking for a place to work, though they quickly lost favour as businesses and coworking operators reacted to the changing demand brought on by social distancing guidelines and the need for private spaces.
However, as Covid-19 restrictions come to an end, demand for different workspace types is once again evolving. in a recent survey on 2022 coworking trends, DESKMAG found that coworking and serviced office operators have noted an increase in demand for flexible desks with demand now back in line with individual offices. Not surprisingly, DESKMAG found that demand for team offices outweighed both flexible desks and individual offices as larger businesses that have been fully remote start to plan for the future of a more hybrid workplace. And as business sentiment continues to improve, we expect demand for larger offices to outstrip other types.
For traditional office leasing, rent is calculated based on the annualised price per square foot and multiplied by the size of the space to give a net annual rent. On top of the rent, there are also outgoings and taxes which must also be paid by the tenant. For a prime CBD 70 sqm unit with a €645 sqm net rent, the monthly rent for an office in the Dublin CBD comes out to €3,762 per month (70 x €645 / 12 + VAT), on top of which are outgoings for building management, electricity, Internet, etc, which are not always fixed.
By contrast the flexible office space calculation is much simpler and typically based on the desk capacity of the office. If for example, each desk in a private office costs €550 per person, the cost for a 6 person office is simply €3,300 (€550 x 6 = €3,300 per month + VAT). Flexible office rental typically includes credits towards meeting rooms, printing facilities, but for heavy users of either, there are options to have these services included. Of course, in addition to the office space and desks comes access to common areas such as kitchens, meeting rooms, washrooms, and other amenities such as showers and even secure bike racks.
It’s important to note that a traditional office rent does not cover the fit-out, desks, or any amenities you want to offer your staff. In addition, you may be paying for excess space that you don’t need. Whereas a flexible office space gives you the opportunity to only pay for what you need and numerous amenities that would otherwise not be economical or feasible in a small traditional office setting.
The cost of office space varies by location, amenities, proximity to transport, terms and economic factors. So when looking at the cost of office space it’s important to look regionally to get a better sense of what you might be paying in your location. Additionally, office space is often priced according to the relative supply and demand in the market at any particular time. This is why Flexible and Serviced Office space can be more volatile than direct leased space, and why it always pays to use a broker to find the best deal in the market at any time (Ed- That's where Rubberdesk helps tenants to find the best deal!)
When it comes to the Irish market, higher prices across the Dublin CBD skew the median national price. Therefore it's important to break out pricing for Dublin comparing to other areas across Ireland. As shown in the table below, prices in Dublin range from a median low of €450 for a 1-4 person office to €657 for a larger 50+ person office. These prices are more than double the median price for Cork and Limerick with prices outside Dublin ranging from €190 to €283 for teams of 1-15 people.
Typically, the cost of office space for a smaller team is cheaper for teams under 25, though this will vary by city depending on the number of spaces available. The higher price range for a 50+ office is a reflection that it may encompass one or more entire floors with private meeting rooms, kitchens, and even amenities such as private break out spaces or dedicated access.
The data presented throughout this document is based on the median prices available for offices of different seating capacities, 1-4, 5-10, 11-15, 16-25, 26-50 & 50+ private offices available in locations around the Ireland. While the prices for most large cities will encompass hundreds of options for each office size, smaller cities may have fewer options available depending on the number of operators and little or no options available for some of the larger office sizes.
With a vacancy rate of 20%, there are now considerable discounts on offer with operators slashing prices due to increased vacancy rates.
At a city level, Dublin accounts for over 90% of the flexible office space in Ireland followed by County Meath, Limerick and Cork. When it comes to price, it's no surprise Dublin is also the most expensive per person per month for private office space.
|City||1-4 Desks||5-10 Desks||11-15 Desks||16-25 Desks||26-50 Desks||50+ Desks|
The table above displays the median price of office space across Ireland by office size as at February 28, 2022. Source Rubberdesk real-time availability.
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