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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

After Covid, Are Traditional Offices Dead? Why Shared Spaces Might Just Be the Answer To Everyone’s Prayers

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There are VERY few silver linings to the pandemic, but one of them might just be that the traditional 9-5, structured office vibe we’ve all been used to since we started working is firmly on the way out as employers demand more of their bosses when it comes to work-life balance, an enjoyable working environment and flexibility.

Enter sharedspace.co.nz, a kind of search engine for both companies and individuals who are looking for their perfect spot to get the mahi done. From entire floors for big companies, through to co-working spaces for freelancers and individuals that feel like home but with a printer (because who has a printer these days) it’s a totally new way of working for a lot of us who are looking for connections, networks and some good old-fashioned office bants – it’s really hard to have a water cooler conversation with your cat, after all.

We spoke to Sharedspace’s founder Matt Knight about the benefits of sharing offices and co-working.

Kia ora Matt, tell us how the idea came about!

I first had the idea many years ago, around the 2009 Global Financial Crisis. I was working in an ad agency and given the economic time, they hadn’t really grown into this new office as fast as they were hoping, and I was looking around at this big beautiful space thinking, how cool would it be if we actually had some other cool businesses around us – not only to cover the rent, but to help with the banter and the vibe. There was a gap in the market for this.

The more I got into it, the more I realised the benefits of sharing an office space. There’s the big ones like flexibility and affordability, but it’s also about understanding the value of community, and getting the right people to work alongside each other.

So the idea was born out of the economic crisis of 2009, and now going through a pandemic, how have things changed for you?

It’s really given rise and credibility to the idea that people don’t have work in an office and it’s not the end of the world if people aren’t always in an office. It’s created this, suppose, middle ground of flexible working, almost this part-time office, part-time home realm, which lends itself very well to our model because business owners are all of a sudden going, well, we’re paying a lot for a lease and we don’t have everyone in the office. So, the enquires to the website absolutely skyrocketed.

The Village, photographed by Evie Mackay

Tell us more about the benefits, in your opinion?

Like I said before, flexibility and affordability, most definitely. You can go month to month, and as you grow as a business there are different options for you, or conversely if things don’t work out, it’s not a drama. Pricing is huge – you don’t need to outlay for things like desks, furnishings etc. Setting up an office is expensive so this tends to be a much more affordable option.

But also, it helps companies project a much bigger and much more professional appearance – things like a good postal address, a building with professional meeting rooms, breakout areas, that kind of thing.

And as well, it’s the networking and community aspect you don’t get if you’re working from home, or just working with your colleagues. You’re literally placing yourself in the right space. I actually met one of my business partners in a shared space! You’ll make useful and powerful connections – I know freelance designers who have memberships to different spaces and use it as a marketing tool to meet potential clients. It’s brilliant.  

Speaking of different spaces, sharedspace.co.nz offers heaps of different types of offices and working spaces, from your more traditional CBD floors through to studio spaces and event venues. Capsule spent a day working out of one of your most chic offerings, The Village, an amazingly cool Villa in central Auckland, which a different kind of space altogether?

They’ve just hit the nail on the head in terms of the brief – they’ve kind of created a home away from home and it’s just a really good vibe. And I think that’s what a lot of people are looking for and I really hope they start to add a few more.

(Main image The Village, photographed by Evie Mackay)

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