Office buildings in the middle of nowhere, without any retail, leisure or a decent connection to public transport? Forget it. “A recent shortage of new office spaces is hindering the growth of the Flemish office market, especially in Antwerp and Ghent. The new Pulse office spaces in Ghent will make up for part of this shortfall.
At the same time, new developments in smaller cities are on the rise.” “Well-being, comfort and experiences. These are the key assets for companies to attract the next generation of employees. There is a war on talent, where millennials are in the driving seat of whom they want to work for. Before making a decision on where to kickstart their career, young employees want to explore the various perks available on the market. This offers an opportunity for companies to stand out, so they are doubling down on creating ‘fun offices’ where people love to work,” says Ronny Nuten, Head of Office Agency at CEUSTERS. He’s been in the business for over twenty years and knows the office market like the back of his hand.
“These young people often don’t have their driving license yet, so they want to live and work in the city. A good location close to public transport is essential, hence the success of projects like Post X and The Link in Antwerp. Another example of a new coworking project lies in Turnhout, Niefhout offices, located near the train station and at walking distance from shops in the city centre. Such projects are likely to be successful for a variety of reasons, but most importantly: their location and the presence of retail or leisure. The off ices are accessible by car or public transport, and offer great alternatives for people who want to avoid the traffic congestions. Also, in retail environments are coworking spaces becoming key.
HR departments are getting more involved when it comes to the location of the off ices. Having bars, restaurants, sports facilities and day-care centres nearby is definitely favourable. Especially if the companies can’t provide these amenities in-house. The Loop, for instance, in Ghent, which is currently struggling with this issue. Yet, this will most likely change soon with the new off ice projects from Banimmo, which will include an array of facilities and catering options. Assets that are highly needed if they want to attract the right talent.” According to Nuten, there is a shortage of contemporary office spaces in Belgium, especially in Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent. “While we’re waiting for new developments, we have no other option than to work with the buildings at hand, which are often less sustainable and energy-efficient.” The most remarkable trend over the past few years is the rise of so-called in-between cities. “As mentioned previously, Turnhout offers a great alternative for people who want to avoid the traffic jams around Antwerp. Sint-Niklaas is another great example.”
“When we look at Brussels – well equipped with public transportation – we see, as a paradox, ‘urban fear’ of people who want to avoid the city centre as much as possible. It’s nearly impossible to get to the city by car, and nearby cities like Mechelen and Aalst are reaping the benefits.” “There’s one particular city that stands out more than the others in Flanders: Waregem, between Kortrijk and Ghent. West-Flanders is always going to be a very distinctive market, with its large amount of family-run SMEs that would rather buy property than to rent. What we’re seeing now is that many of these companies are looking for young potentials to lead their R&D departments. They don’t have the necessary space available for these employees on their own premises, which explains the success of the office spaces Waregem Business Park near the motorway exit in Waregem. Despite the growing awareness for the environmental issues, the SDG (sustainable development goals) of the United Nations, young potentials usually get a company car. This makes it quite difficult for them to set up shop near train stations, because, on these spots, the ratio of parking spaces per 100 sqm is far more limited. We do notice that the attitude is changing, mainly driven by the way that companies are handling transport expenses for their employees.