Footloose and fancy-free? Space as a service can work across property types

By Cléo Folkes, Property Overview Ltd

Nothing in life is sure but death, taxes and change. What people want, how they want it, when they want it changes from generation to generation.

Have you ever come across the term space-as-a-service (SAAS)? When people talk about this they mean that users of space – whether in residential, retail, office or logistics – are not tied down to the space they use, the use is flexible in nature, and some additional services might be provided as well.

Technology is essential to enable SAAS to function. Software needs to make it easy for a customer to find the space they need from an on-line listing site and hire it for a short time period. Apps also help them to make the most out of the space, and helps them connect with other users like them, or with those that are willing to let out the space to them. The software is needed to make it a seamless, effortless experience. Compare that to signing a 10-year lease on commercial space. Oh boy.

Do you want to find a free corner in a logistics warehouse where you can temporarily store goods, do you want to rent a pop-up space as a retailer to try out a new concept or a location, would you like to find somewhere to lie for a little while, or use a space for meetings when you want to get your team together who normally work in all wind directions?

Many of you have become familiar with brands like Appear Here, with WeWork, The Office Group and The Collective. A few of you might have even have heard of FlexSpace, which will connect temporary users with flexible workshop, industrial and selfstorage space as well as the more common flexible office space.

You can't just do anything you like with the space of course. No hazardous, dangerous material can be stored whenever and where-ever you want, and you can't ply an illegal trade for a day. So there are some tricky things to consider sometimes.

Change in people's work-life habits has giving rise to co-working and co-living trends, with people 'sharing' (renting) capital-intensive goods & spaces through a short-term agreement with a service provider. Why own a car if you can easily hop into a cab or rent a car for two hours? This is often cheaper than owning a car, plus you don't have to maintain it! No Sunday mornings spent in the freezing cold trying to wash the car or replace windscreen wipers. It saves time and hassle. With entertainment streaming so easy and affordable, why bother to own films and music? It doesn't take up space, and when you're bored with it you don't need to chuck it.

The same principles apply to renting space in a property. It makes sense. So landlords, get ready to give people what they want. There is money to be made!

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