Great article about co-working in Australia and nice to see depo8 mentioned alongside some great pioneers of co-working down under.
Australian Financial Review Article – Thu 12 September 2013
Rick Chen, the founder of Australia’s largest crowd funding site, Pozible, found his new Melbourne work place by googling “co-working”.
The search lead to the HUB Melbourne, a colourful and eclectic 650 square-metre work space in Docklands, in which his business has grown over the past two years and where he shares desks with other entrepreneurs and corporates.
Hubs, or co-working spaces, have emerged because the nature of work is changing and office space around the world is being forced to transform with it.
The GPT Group, AMP Capital, Deloitte, CBRE and others experimenting with such hubs.
“Things are changing and they are changing fast,” says Brad Krauskopf, chief executive of HUB Australia.
“We won’t have the traditional office in the size that it currently exists.
“So while head office is just as important, its role will be much more around culture setting and connecting talent within the organisation, rather than being the central production facility where all the work gets done.”
Gone too are the days where start-ups ran their fledgling business out of a garage. Now they are in hubs.
Hubs are a shared environment, often an office, usually with free Wi-Fi and audio visual equipment. Sometimes they are a larger open space, while others can be divided between bigger and smaller rooms where single workers or groups of colleagues set up for hourly, daily, weekly or monthly fees. Others simply pay a flat membership fee.
Pozible’s Chen, as with any hub user,will tell you the benefits go far beyond a space to work.The real attraction is the community.
The Hub Melbourne, where Chen works five days a week, has between 70 and 100 people working at any one time.
“Through that hub community we get a lot of exposure. It not only spread the word about what we do, it also helped me bounce ideas off people around me if we weren’t 100 per cent sure on something,” Chen says.
Krauskopf adds that more than half its 1000 members in Australia join to network. He says what makes his franchise stand out against other co-work spaces is its range of members.
“At our hubs we have about 50 different industry disciplines and that’s across many generations, not just 20-somethings,” Krauskopf says.
It’s not just start-ups using hubs, many a C-suite executive can be found using co-work spaces. Krauskopf says Deloitte’s chief edge operator Peter Williams comes to the Melbourne hub once a week.
Last week HUB Australia launched its Adelaide hub and the Sydney and Melbourne hubs will have a second floor added over the coming year.
In addition to HUB Australia, other co-work spaces include: Fishburners, the Manly Emporium and Ohio Surry Hills in Sydney; Depo8, 1derground and the York Butter Factory in Melbourne; and The Corner Table, Slingshot and the Thought Fort in other cities.
AMP commissioned a report in July on the workplace of the future, anticipating it would operate around individuals instead of institutions.
Deloitte, which wrote the report, argued work places very soon “will operate like interconnected hubs, allowing people to select work spaces that suit their changing needs and wants”.
Both firms have trialled their own hubs. Deloitte’s inhouse “The Source” is only for employees and clients but chief financial officer Gerhard Vorster says getting companies to think about space differently is essential. “That was one of the core reasons we started to embrace the idea of cohabitation and different working spaces,” he says.
Vorster says companies can do this in two ways: outsource to providers of these hubs such as HUB Australia; or adjust their own work spaces.
“We wanted to internalise and make it Deloitte specific and available to our clients, so we took two half floors in Sydney and Melbourne and created the Source,” he says.
AMP hosted a pop-up hub in June, which it called a “visionary expo of what the future of work will look like”.
The NSW government is also piloting smart work hubs in the outer suburbs and regions like the Central Coast.
Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner wants smart hubs to involve people from multiple organisations and sectors.
“This could see small business employees working alongside individuals or teams from larger corporate businesses,” he says.
Krauskopf insists employers are the single biggest barrier to working from anywhere.
“Management culture still has that line of site mentality and it is a real challenge for managers and organisations to get past this notion,” he says.
But he believes the generation of iPhone and Facebook users entering the workforce is going to demand flexible work and collaboration.
“Otherwise,” he says, “they will go to another company or another city, it’s as simple as that”.