GPT Group and Blackwall are the latest ASX-listed companies to expand their footprints in the co-working office space, a sector identified as an integral part of an organisation’s workplace strategy.
GPT launched Space&Co in May 2014, while Dexus Property offered a separate site under the Dexus Place banner in May 2015, and is also on the expansion path.
Peter Black, head of workplace solutions at Colliers International, says the biggest shift he sees in coming years is that flexible workspace will become a key component of many companies’ workplace and real estate strategies, for occupiers and building owners.
“Flexible workspace is not just for millennial freelancers or tech start-ups any more. Large, multinational companies are increasingly taking on space at flexible workspace operators or integrating shared working spaces into their own environments,” Mr Black said.
“In 2016, there were about 11,000 co-working locations around the world. But this figure is expected to more than double to 26,000 by 2020. By comparison, there are approximately 24,000 Starbucks locations worldwide.”
Knight Frank analyst Kimberley Paterson says Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane have 239 co-working spaces in total, occupying 116,955 sq m, and Melbourne accounts for 56 per cent of that total.
GPT’s latest deal is for its Space&Co which opened another level at its Melbourne Central office in July. The flexible workspace group has taken level 12 in the building and targeted it towards teams of four or more staff.
The new space had already achieved occupancy around 70 per cent, GPT’s national director of flexible working Daniel Stiffe said. About half of the usage was from existing tenants in the building, he said.
Space&Co also has space in another GPT-owned building at 530 Collins Street. There are plans to open in two other locations in Melbourne, Mr Stiffe said.
GPT also confirmed plans to expand its venue at 580 George Street, Sydney, in response to strong demand. The Space&Co will be boosted from 300 sq m to 700 sq m, with the new space created by one of the world’s leading designers of co-working spaces, architectural firm BVN.
The expanded venue will accommodate an extra 50-plus members and include dedicated project and team rooms and collaborative working areas.
GPT’s head of office & logistics Matthew Faddy said the venue had benefited from being in Sydney CBD’s expanding mid-town area, which has emerged as a hub for international technology and creative firms: “580 George Street includes the best amenities and is arguably the most convenient location for any co-working space in Sydney..
“Aside from the appeal of its close proximity to Town Hall Station, Space&Co had seen strong demand from independent professionals and small business operators but also existing GPT tenants looking for temporary flexible workspace.”
Listed Blackwall, which reported an after-tax profit of $3.6 million for 2017, up 22 per cent, on the previous year, and whose result also featured a significant increase in gross revenue, up $6.6 million to $17.4 million, has increased its WOTSO space at its office at 55 Pyrmont Bridge Road, Pyrmont, after the departure of Fox Sports.
With 102 new desks, plus studio rooms and office suites, the area sees the total WOTSO tenancy at Pyrmont grow to more than 1600 sq m.
Blackwall director of property Jess Glew said the decision to move and expand the co-working space at Pyrmont was because demand was outstripping supply in its original configuration.
WeWork is also on the march, with three Sydney sites and now about 6000 sq m in Collins Street, Melbourne. Another big co-working company in Melbourne is Hub Australia.
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