Due to Covid, more Australian businesses are looking for alternatives to costly, long-term commercial workspaces, opting instead for short-term and flexible office space options closer to home.

With remote working becoming the new norm, many co-working space providers are seeing a massive surge in demand – from large corporations and SMBs, to start-ups, and sole traders, and everything in between.

One such company is Spacenow. Since March this year, it’s recorded a more than 290 per cent increase in new customers, and a 550 per cent-plus increase in enquiries from across the country’s existing client base.  

“We saw a growing need for more flexible and short-term options, so we wanted to bring more convenience and flexibility to businesses to help them save money by moving away from very expensive long-term leases,” Spacenow chief executive officer and co-founder Daniel Gunning said.

Daniel Gunning

“This is how the idea of Spacenow came about, and why we decided to create a marketplace that could help businesses easily find options to rent out a wide range of commercial spaces by the hour, day, week or month.”

According to Gunning, Covid has accelerated this trend, which is why Spacenow has worked hard to expand their reach and offering, while also ensuring that their premises are Covid-safe for all its clients.

“Hygiene and safety has always been at the forefront of our priorities and built-in to our services. Covid has heightened this focus on hygiene and safety as we want to ensure that businesses work in places that are Covid-safe,” Mr Gunning added.

Spacenow, which was founded only four years ago, currently employs over 10 people with plans for expansion in the near future as the platform keeps growing.

“As remote working is likely to become the new norm, Spacenow sees great opportunities ahead and are already looking at enhancing our platform further by establishing more strategic partnerships, as well as introducing business development managers and customer success specialists,” Mr Gunning concluded.

Brad Krauskopf, CEO and founder of Hub Australia – which recently became Australia’s first carbon neutral co-working space provider – believes that businesses are now more open to these co-working spaces due to the flexibility and employee experience provided.

“One of the key things is we focus on our own team and attracting and retaining the best people, because it really helps with creating a great culture at Hub, which in turn creates a great place for our clients,” Mr Krauskopf said.

“In terms of office setup, we have different ways to customise, depending on client preference, and provide flexible options, given the current state of things.

“I believe the concept of outsourcing your workspace to an operator that is specialised in providing flexible and distributed workplace options will become much more prominent moving forward.”

At the moment, the company has 64 full-time people on staff, and with the current demand of the market, the plan is to ramp up hiring again at the start of 2021. It even has several new locations locked in to expand to, including some suburban locations.

“We’ve always been focused on the CBD, because that’s where growing businesses have wanted to be located to help them attract and retain the best staff for their organisation,” Mr Krauskopf added.

“But, we are now finding ourselves pivoting towards a more distributed approach – looking at suburban and regional. Ultimately, we are going to need to put workplaces wherever the companies working with Hub want to access the talent.

“What you will also see is more customisation of the workspace in our product offering in order to better suit a client’s needs. We also plan to be closer engaged with landlords in more of a partnership approach to deliver on the workplace needs.”

According to Balder Tol, WeWork Australia general manager, businesses have been reaching out to the global coworking company to better understand their workplace options as part of their future-proofing strategy.

“Thinking about the place of the office in a post-COVID world, the strong message we’re hearing is that people want optionality and greater flexibility,” Mr Tol said.

“Although working from home has taken off during the pandemic, the same big companies that embraced the practice are continuing to take up major city spaces because they recognise the role of the office and value of providing their employees autonomy to choose.

“For us, it’s about offering the scalability, flexibility to scale up and down, and speed to address their needs. This agility and adaptability is why co-working is surprisingly well-suited to this moment of change.”

Mr Tol believes that, although the role or purpose of the physical office and its place in the future of work has changed, it will still be an essential place to meet, build culture and foster relationship in businesses.

“We see the concept of the city as a campus will increasingly become attractive as a way to limit commute times and allow people to work at a location that’s more convenient,” Mr Tol continued.

“Companies are starting to look for a provider of a hub-and-spoke workspace model that can help them distribute their workforce across multiple locations to follow physical distancing guidelines.

“Although the future of work is certainly going to look different, human beings will continue to seek ways to interact, learn and grow in real life and businesses will need to continue to provide the right infrastructure for these new ways of working.”

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