Collaborative economy driving 24-hour workspaces

Elizabeth Barry 30 November 2016

working in a coworking space

A new platform is helping Australian businesses work in cafes, hair salons and warehouses.

Spare Workspace, an online marketplace to help businesses and individuals find shared workspaces, is answering the market's call for on-demand short-term space. Founder Jake Dimarco said he got the idea when his outdoor fitness company needed a workspace for wet weather classes.

"After looking at all our options, every space required complex legal agreements, advanced bookings and were cost-prohibitive.”

This was when he located a cafe in an old warehouse that closed at 3pm.

"It was then I realised not only could our fitness studio use the space on an ad-hoc basis, but there was no limit to who else could. Pop-up restaurants, catering companies, yoga teachers or event companies could use the space while empty and the cafe can earn money outside of core business hours."

Hosts are able to list spaces, whether they are meeting rooms or three spare chairs at a hairdresser, on the site for free. Those looking for spaces can then book them for one hour up to 12 months.

Due to this shift in working habits, demand will continue to outstrip supply.

The latest Colliers International Office Demand Index supports Dimarco's claim that businesses need these spaces. There was a 21% increase in the amount of office space leased across major Australian markets, with 85% of the leasing deals involved businesses needing less than 1,000sqm worth of space.

Dimarco says the demand for coworking spaces is because of the changing nature of Australia's work.

"There has been a drastic increase in the number of workers seeking co-working spaces over the past decade, mainly fuelled by the rise of freelancing, with this set to continue to rise over the next decade. In fact, recent reports are suggesting that 50% of the Australian workforce by 2030 will partake in some form of freelancing.

"Due to this shift in working habits, demand will continue to outstrip supply."

Various types of spaces are listed on the site, including hot desks, creative spaces and meeting rooms. Dimarco also says the types of businesses listing their spaces are varied.

"We’ve seen a variety of business list their space, however, professional services (accountants, consultants, developers etc) and marketing agencies have been drawn to the platform. Typically these businesses are ‘project-based’, so the flexibility of sharing space when they need to is the perfect way to offset any rent."

working in a cafe

"The networking & collaboration opportunities of sharing workspace is also appealing to these type of businesses. One of the major advantages of sharing office space is the concept of ‘space scalability,’ allowing businesses to scale their workspace needs as they need it."

The Colliers Index does show that the legal sector has been enquiring about the largest amount of space overall. However, those in the information technology industry have had a larger number of businesses apply (95 compared to 50) for only slightly less space in total (65,000sqm compared to 62,000sqm).

Dimarco believes that as Australian cities become more conducive to freelance work and the "gig economy", collaborative workspaces will become the norm.

"We’re already seeing a rise in demand in major cities, and with the introduction with new players such as WeWork, it’s clear that shared workspace is not going anyway," he said.

"Our vision for the future of workspace is more businesses will be seeking shared workspace, and businesses will be able to capitalise on this trend by sharing their empty and unused workspace."

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