Companies opt to share Office space

Posted On Tuesday, 28 May 2013 07:49 Published by Commercial Property News
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Office sharing is a growing international trend in which small companies, and even multinationals, rent private office space or even desks in a larger communal complex, sharing amenities such as boardrooms, kitchens, receptionists and internet connectivity.

Office SharingLast year’s Global Coworking Survey, the largest annual authoritative survey on office sharing, noted a 83% year-on-year increase in people choosing to be based in office-sharing spaces worldwide.

While the most obvious benefits in the trend are the savings on having to pay for space such as conference rooms and kitchens, and services such as a receptionist and internet connections, there are also intangible benefits such as easy networking.

"We wanted to tap into the resources office sharing can offer ... especially our web designer — he wanted to be able to chat to other web designers. It’s a creative process. There are now three in the same space (in the office-sharing complex they use)," says Cape-based Greenbox Designs co-owner Alex Kirsten.

The close corporation’s members first came across office-sharing during a six-month stint in Barcelona, Spain. "We are fortunate in that we don’t need a lot of face time with our clients. They are happy to use Skype and other conferencing tools. We went there to try something new and see how businesses are run there. It opened our eyes to how beneficial office-sharing is," Mr Kirsten says.

Office sharing also allows companies to rent a better address than they might be able to afford if they had to rent or buy full offices, and with rental contracts as short as three months on offer, it is much easier to take an office and "see how it works out", says Cape Town Central City Improvement District chairman Rob Kane.

"We charge about R120/m²-R130/m² (a month). We provide the kitchen, cutlery and crockery, security, access to a boardroom, an address, internet access — it’s almost risk-free and most people can find that money if they really want to get going.

"A few years ago, the big thing was to work from home, but I think those people are getting lonely. The trend in the US of people working from home is coming down. The reality is it is not much fun," says Mr Kane.

"If you cluster entrepreneurs together they find they are all struggling with the same things, funding themselves, attracting new business.... Our CBD (central business district) building has 80% letting and we are getting good rentals."

Mr Kirsten says Greenbox was "adamant" they wanted a CBD address, for "the atmosphere … entrepreneurs, the hustle and bustle. "There is a feeling of progression and we wanted to feel part of that, like we are moving forward along with the CEO."

Anthony Manes, the CEO of Cube Workspace, a company that rents office space in Cape Town and Johannesburg, says this form of renting can save a firm more than half its monthly costs, with the bonus of "just one bill at the end of the month" for a range of services, from cleaning to Wi-Fi.

"That’s massive, and the beauty of it is they are not tied into a long lease. It’s the way the world is changing. We had a company in the beginning of the year, rent free, to test our massive background infrastructure, and they now want an executive office with three support staff. They began with one person."

Mr Manes says the work-sharing trend is "quite big" in South Africa, and was spearheaded by large companies such as Regus and The Business Centre.

Regus operates more than 1,400 business centres in 99 countries and has diverse global customers, according to the company’s website.

Source: BD 

Last modified on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 08:41

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