In the Asia-Pacific region, seven of the ten largest and fastest growing flexible workspace markets in the world are thriving, with key cities like Sydney and Melbourne driving growth, according to research by Instant Offices.
With this new way of working set to grow even further this year, Tom Fleming, Director at The Instant Group, looks at nine ways businesses can benefit from shared office space and coworking in Australia.
- Financial Flexibility
Workspace in an A or B grade building in a major CBD in Australia can cost between $20,000 – $25,000 per employee, per year. By comparison, an Australian co-working space costs, on average, between $7,200 and $12,000 per desk, per year – all inclusive of furniture, internet, utilities, cleaning, reception services, kitchens, bathrooms and more.
This gives businesses a massive saving of up to 70% when choosing flexible space over traditional office space.
In addition, co-working space offers businesses complete flexibility around terms (1 month, 3 months, 6 months, for example) rather than committing to a 3+ year lease. This function essentially converts a fixed cost to a variable cost, allowing a business to adjust its P&L when it either grows or contracts.
- Increased Networking
Shared office space is an environment conducive to collaboration, with break-out and communal spaces, open-plan kitchen and dining areas, regular events and even the general layout of the offices and desks all contributing to the ambience.
Meeting like-minded people is a great way to grow a business brand and identity. Often, members within co-working spaces end up doing business with one another, which makes access to the member portal a powerful tool.
Not everything has to be business focused though. It’s great for team happiness and wellbeing to be able to meet people from outside the business to grab a coffee with, have a chat or play some ping pong!
- Value Added Services
Given their focus on customer service, agility and simple pricing, co-working spaces, in effect, function as hotels for businesses. Compared to the conventional stereotype of the office, one of the main components of a successful flexible operator is their ability to provide a service.
Businesses have access to a reception team that will meet and greet clients, as well as a wider team including community staff and cleaners.
When I ran a shared space, I was never really sure how to describe the role of a community manager, as they’re really office all-rounders. Whether it’s greeting clients in the morning, checking up on you during the day, fixing a problem, providing an introduction, delivering mail or organising events, their job is about making sure you and your team are happy and fully utilising the office, and that’s a pretty great resource to have.
- Extra Facilities & Amenities
In an annual Australian career survey, 66% of employees said a great workplace was their main reason for being happy at work.
Co-working is far more than just a desk, chair and internet, and operators in Australia are continually upping their game in terms of the facilities and amenities within a space – a trend largely driven by increased competition.
Membership could include things like end of trip facilities, towel services, games rooms, beer and wine on tap, sleeping pods and meditation rooms, gyms, golf simulators and recording studios.
While some of these facilities might seem slightly ephemeral, they add to the character of a space, help to impress clients and attract and retain talent – all significant bonuses for a business.
- Improved Productivity and Happiness
The days of boring office cubicles are dead and gone, and operators, landlords and even tenants are putting a lot of effort into developing workspace – but no one does it better than the co-working players!
Providing members with multiple spaces allows businesses to mix up their day by brainstorming in a creative area, working privately in a quiet space, holding a boardroom presentation or conducting a team training session.
The best spaces provide areas that are formal, relaxed, creative or private – designed for both individuals and teams.
- Events and Knowledge Sharing
Australian coworking spaces host regular events, which is beneficial for two main reasons:
Access to knowledge – whether learning about personal finance, how to drive sales or the basics about blockchain, shared office space providers are good at mixing up topics and presenters, so there’s always a session that will be of interest.
Social events are good for networking and business culture. Breakfast in the morning or drinks after work are great ways to keep teams engaged and motivated, and forming friendships at work has been shown to improve happiness and productivity.
- Passport & Affiliations
Many coworking spaces in Australia either have interstate and/or global offices (think WeWork, Regus, Servcorp), or they have affiliations with other co-working providers, which members can benefit from.
This can be a massive bonus for members. If you’re in another state or country and you need to work for the day or hold a meeting, you can simply walk into the space. The staff know who you are, where you’re from and why you are there. That kind of familiarity and convenience is priceless!
Collaboration and community are a big part of the culture in an Australian co-working space. I always describe it like walking into your favourite coffee shop – they know your order and your name before you’ve got to the counter. It’s effortless, positive and one of the reasons you go back every day.
Yes, it’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but a lot of people like that feeling of walking into a shared office space which is buzzing. There are people working, talking, collaborating, there’s movement, the smell of coffee – all of these things create a really positive and energizing feeling. And it’s unique to the coworking world.