In early June Graystone Development Manager, Anna Robbie joined over 100 attendees at the Sydney 2015 Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC). The conference highlighted the value of coworking spaces both to start-up companies and larger corporations interested in offering their employees opportunities to work closer to home.
Coworking is a model that is well established overseas but has only gained popularity in Australia in the past five years. Since then, coworking spaces, such as Sydney’s Tank Steam Labs, Hub Sydney and Your Desk, have sprung up across the country.
In Australia, with business centres so widely distributed, coworking makes a lot of sense. But with any sort of venture, the key is to do it right. GCUC Executive Producer, Liz Elam listed some of the features essential to a successful coworking space, including regular community events, news feeds and directories that encourage members to interact and collaborate, and a range of meeting facilities and quiet spaces.
Bronwyn Buksh, speaker at the GCUC event and Executive Manager of Public Green, elaborated on this, saying, “for hubs to succeed outside the CBD, they need to encourage the co-location of similar organisations, and should be defined by the community they are trying to attract.” This ensures events are focused on topics of interest to members and members have a strong sense of belonging and loyalty to the space.
Coworking spaces are designed to encourage interaction between occupants and generally comprise an open plan layout with meeting and kitchen facilities, and a membership scheme that runs more like a gym than a traditional serviced office model.
Simon Pole, Design Director at Unispace Global, acknowledged the challenge of converting traditionalists to the value of an open plan environment, but said, “If you can work from an airline member lounge, then you can make the move to coworking.”
The new generation of tech savvy professionals entering the workforce are increasingly expecting flexibility in their work arrangements. however the statistics show this model also appears to be popular with older constituents. “Three quarters of NSW coworkers are between 35 – 45 years old, earning between $74 000 and $108 000 annually, and are evenly split between the public and private sector,” Keirra Smith of NSW Department of Trade and Investment said.