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Co-working set to escape the city for regional areas

The boss of one of the world’s leading co-working outfits expects co-working spaces to spread outside Australia’s capital cities, where they’re currently concentrated.

Martijn Roordink, the chief executive and co-founder of trailblazing Dutch co-working provider Spaces – which has more than 200 locations across 39 countries, including three in Melbourne and one in Sydney – says the landscape in Australia is shifting.

“As remote working becomes more popular, more co-working spaces will be developed outside of the major cities, as more and more people choose to live outside of the central business district for a variety of reasons,” he says.

At present, co-working spaces are highly concentrated in the CBDs of Melbourne and Sydney. Just 15 per cent are in regional areas.

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Martijn Roordink

Martijn Roordink. Picture: Supplied

“Research shows that more than two-thirds of Australian employees work remotely every week and almost 50 per cent do so for at least half of the week. The concept of the CBD as we know it now will change over the coming years as these trends continue to grow,” Roordink says.

Roordink expects the “specialisation” of flexible work spaces to continue to grow in coming years, too.

“We are seeing more and more companies entering the market offering experiences or cultures that are targeted to a specific industry, demographic of worker,” he says.

But it’s not something Spaces will do. “For us at Spaces, we try to encourage an environment and culture where people feel they can bring their own individual company culture or environment into our workspaces, without having a set working culture imposed on them.”

Spaces, which opened its first space in Amsterdam 10 years ago and has grown into one of the biggest co-working providers in the world, is also anticipating growing competition in Australia, where all their locations are “at near-full capacity”.

“Yes, of course (we expect more big players to enter the space). We operate in a buoyant, fast-growing market, which is bound to attract new players, ideas and investment. Healthy competition helps build category understanding and drive the behaviour that will accelerate the growth in our industry,” Roordink says.

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Office Design

Co-working continues to grow in Australia and globally. Picture: Getty

That growth should be viewed as a positive not a negative by commercial property owners, he says.

“As the demand for more co-working spaces is on the rise, this is an opportunity rather than a threat for commercial real estate holders, as they can smartly invest in co-working office providers to attract more corporations into their buildings,” Roordink says.

“Larger businesses are increasingly interested in the benefits provided by co-working, as this helps businesses save costs, improve staff productivity and reduces commuting time.

“Now that workplace providers such as Spaces are looking at opening more locations across Australia, commercial real estate holders will continue to see the value in capitalising on co-working.”

And it’s clear, co-working isn’t going anywhere, Roordink says. “Australia has truly embracing co-working and all it has to offer and the stats support that,” he says.

“Research has indicated that 12.4 per cent of all employment will be associated with flexible workspaces in Australia by 2030 and approximately 12 per cent of all commercial office stock in Australia will be used for flexible workspaces by 2030. It’s safe to say that Australia is embracing co-working environments.”

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