This story was written for WRAL TechWire Innovator partner CBRE | Raleigh.

If you had a traditional 9 to 5 job in — say — 1995, you probably got in your car and headed to the office where you’d work in close proximity to your fellow company men and women until it was time to clock out.

Nowadays, more people are working remotely or taking advantage of flexible format workspace, resulting in individuals working alongside people outside of their own company or business.

Places like WeWork, the American Underground and HQ Raleigh are just a local reflection of a national trend — flexible space is “in.”

“It’s cool. It’s creative. It’s hip. It’s attracting young companies, technology companies, etcetera that want to be in this collaborative environment,” noted Brad Corsmeier, an executive vice president of Advisory & Transactions Services at CBRE | Raleigh, a commercial real estate services company.

Corsmeier isn’t wrong. According to Allwork.Space, an online news publication that reports on the flexible workspace industry, shared workspaces have grown by more than 200 percent since 2013. It’s predicted that the number of flexible format employees will rise to 3.8 million by the end of next year.

A recent CBRE | Raleigh report suggested a “healthy” amount of flexible workspace space in major markets falls around five percent of total office inventory.

Currently, 1.9 percent of Raleigh-Durham’s office market is made up of flexible workspace – 1,040,280 square feet to be exact. This means that roughly 1.7 million more square feet could be added in the coming years, while still falling in the healthy 5 percent range.

“It’s definitely a nontraditional type of space,” said Jason High, an executive vice president at CBRE | Raleigh. “You go into these centers and there’s a vibe to them that you won’t get anywhere else. They’re typically highly amenitized, and the social atmosphere allows a lot of these smaller companies to be part of something a little bit bigger.”

So what makes flexible workspace attractive for companies? It’s a great way to save money on rent and capitalize on amenities like printers, Keurig machines, and desks and chairs.

It’s also an appealing option for companies who don’t want a full-blown space of their own, for startups looking to grow, and businesses who seek a more collaborative workspace that can foster networking opportunities. It’s also an option for companies who may be waiting for a more permanent place of residence.

“Some reasons a company may be interested in flexible workspace is they’re term-adverse. Their company is growing quickly — they are capital-adverse — so they don’t want to go spend their capital setting up their office space. And you can solve many of these problems with flexible workspace,” High continued. “You’re able to sign a month-to-month, six-month, year, two-year lease, and you don’t have to put any money into it as you move in. You walk in, and your furniture is there, your phones are set up, your WiFi is ready, you have all of your kitchen and your comfort space.

“It’s a capital-light model, and it gives you the flexibility you need to scale your company as you grow.”

While the tenant side can be trickier, many commercial landlords understand that flexible workspace isn’t going anywhere.

“It’s creating a competitive landscape with the landlords of the market,” Corsmeier said. “I think the positives, though, are that they [landlords] are getting young companies. These young companies are growing and they’re spreading out, and they sometimes need more permanent options. So they could spin out into a more permanent solution. If you’re just prudent about it, I think they can be really good bets.”

High admits flexible workspace is not right for every company or commercial landlord, but said when landlords and tenants view themselves as partners, good things can happen.

“I think we all understand that [flexible workspace companies] are here, and they’re here in a big way. They’re growing, and they’re going to be out there, creating a new alternative for the workplace,” Corsmeier added. “In a way, you embrace it, but you do it in a way that works for your investors, in a way that you can still maintain the ability to traditionally lease space and gain market share with other tenants.”

This story was written for WRAL TechWire Innovator partner CBRE | Raleigh.