Coworking, we're told, is the future of work. As technology gets better, Internet speeds get faster, and communication methods simpler, the concept of the 9 to 5 office space becomes increasingly obsolete.
And it's not just the simplicity of a coworking space that's attractive to employees. Flexible workplaces are high on the list of priorities for employees, who crave something more from their employer than just a desk to sit at.
According to some estimates, by the end of 2017 there were 1.2 million people worldwide in co-working spaces.
The country's largest privately owned coworking operator, Hub Australia, has secured its second and third sites in Melbourne's CBD as it looks to expand its national footprint.
The first new site, located new Parliament Station at 1 Nicholson Street, will total 2,700 square meters, and builds upon the successful opening of Hub Australia's flagship Melbourne location in 2016, Hub Southern Cross.
The new Hub Australia site at 1 Nicholson Street
The new Melbourne location is expected to open in mid-2019, and will occupy the three top levels in Charter Hall's 1 Nicholson Street building. Located opposite Parliament Station, the site was chosen for its close proximity to public transport, accessibility for north-side Melbournians and the stunning views across the city.
Hub Parliament Station will be designed by HASSELL and include state-of-the-art design and amenities, including a café, meeting spaces, parents facilities, a gym, a media room, a relaxation space, and parking.
The third Hub Australia site will be Located at the iconic 'Paris' end of Collins St, in the historic The Georges Building. The new site will bring Hub Australia's Melbourne footprint to over 10,000 sqm. Hub Australia will occupy the ground mezzanine level as well as the entirety of levels two and three.
The building has a rich history in retail, being a prestigious shopping destination for luxury fashion since 1889, which Hub Australia acknowledges and hopes to build upon as it embarks on a new commercial chapter for the iconic building.
The third Hub Australia site will be in the iconic Georges Building
In addition to the new Melbourne sites, 2018 will see Hub Australia open a second Sydney location, Hub Hyde Park, in March which will feature a winder garden rooftop terrace complete with a café
Business News Australia spoke to Hub Australia CEO Brad Krauskopf (pictured) about the future of coworking, his plans for national expansion, and what goes into creating the perfect coworking space.
Over the next two years you're opening two brand new Hub Australia locations - what's driving this growth?
It's largely from different businesses that didn't previously look at coworking that are now looking at coworking. Hub originally started out seven years ago and focused largely on freelancers and startups. As those freelancers and startups grew we actually found that our membership became more growing businesses and even established businesses. We saw that in the wider industry and market as a whole, at this point in time coworking for corporate is the fastest growing industry segment in the coworking industry. Coworking works. People have realised that it is creating value way beyond just flexibility. The single biggest reason that somebody gives us as to why they stay at the hub is their ability to attract and retain staff. It is very much a people focused solution for your workplace requirements.
Why do you think co-working is so popular these days?
Because it's a more enjoyable way to work. You come into these spaces each day which are much more than a space, they're a community of people you can work with, that you can learn with and that you can socialise with.
What's been the cultural shift you've seen that's really made coworking a big trend?
There's certainly an expectation by people joining the workforce that they're going to get more than just a job. We demand people these days to work and spend a lot of time in their job. It's no longer 9 to 5 - you're always connected. And most people put their heart and soul into their jobs because they're really looking to get a lot out of it. When you do that you expect the company that you work for to provide you with an amazing work space and an amazing work environment to come into every day. I think coworking has served as a tool that organisations are now choosing to provide for their staff and indeed that they see that it actually benefits the growth of their company.
Do you think that the "expectation" of something more form the workplace is unique to the Millennial generation coming into the workforce or is it now a universal desire?
I think its everyone. And I don't say expectation in that I think it's an unfair expectation, I think it's a perfectly reasonable expectation. When you spend that much time doing the work you can expect that you get more than a pay packet from it. The work spaces need to cater to an incredibly diverse workforce these days. Workplaces need to cater for people that are young parents getting back to work. Likewise they need to cater for the Baby Boomer generation who are now looking to need to work not just to 60 or 65 but to 70 or 75 or beyond. Workforces need to adapt and change to support that.
Coworking spaces are a relatively new phenomenon, do you think that they'll eventually be the absolute standard?
Yes I think coworking is going to become a part of the real estate portfolio of every company. For a small business it might fulfil 100 per cent of their workspace requirement. For corporate it might fulfil 20 per cent of their flexible workspace requirement.
How do you go about selecting the perfect place for these co-working spaces?
Transport is absolutely key - it has to be easy to get to. Amenity too, people want to be surrounded by cafes, shops, supermarkets. They want to be able to have all of these things at their doorstep. And for the hub we look for something that's unique.
Apart from the new Melbourne and Sydney locations, what's in the pipeline for the group?
We got some funding last year so we are growing a national footprint right now. And in line with that stay tuned for further news from us about our growth plans. We're growing nationally at the moment and we look forward to announcing a couple more sites soon.
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