Demand for co-working spaces and serviced offices has grown over the past year, and Pretoria residents are leading the way in embracing the trend.
Mari Schourie, chief executive officer of The Workspace, which is expanding its operation at The Club in Hazelwood due to increased consumer demand, says a year ago many people didn’t know about, or understand, the concept of co-working.
“Now, as we interrogate our marketing reports, we can see the demand for co-working has increased rapidly,” she says. “We have definitely noted Pretoria being ahead of the co-working trend. It seems to come more naturally to our Pretoria members. But I must add that co-working is picking up at each and every branch; you can definitely see the shift taking place.”
Schourie’s experience of developing co-working and serviced offices around Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal means she is able to identify the sectors where the growth is taking place.
“It’s not just small businesses, entrepreneurs, start-ups and freelancers who are using our spaces, but blue chip companies too,” she says. “Increasingly they need satellite offices for staff too and it makes economic sense to use serviced office spaces. Our target market is vast and it is important to get the message across of what we do and how we do it ”
The Club in Hazelwood, home to the Pretoria branch of the The Workspace, is expanding significantly. And with The Workspace signing up 100 members in the year since it opened in October 2016, Schourie says the time is right to grow with The Club.
“Our situation makes it very convenient for our members; they are a few steps away from lovely restaurants, they can pop out to Woolworths to get supper and they’re within walking distance from the gym,” she says.
Hazelwood has been compared to Johannesburg’s Parkhurst. Eatout recently reported that the area is transforming into a place where “where good food, good drink and good times are abundant”.
Certainly Schourie reckons it’s a growth area. “We find a lot of freelancers and people starting their own businesses, but also smaller companies looking for larger space, so yes, there is growth. IT and marketing companies are prevalent, but we have a great mix of members. Our infrastructure also plays a big role, because things just run smoothly and that’s what our members need so they can concentrate on business,” she says.
Global research has shown millennials in the workspace are driving demand for co-working. They’re entrepreneurs, they’re launching startups, and they’re having an impact on where and how people work. A recent Nielsen survey shows 62% of millennials prefer urban life. Access to resources like grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment are convenient and mutually accessible to others. Also, millennials are breaking down corporate hierarchies and want a counterpoint to traditional office culture.
Schourie says The Workspace has built – and is still building – a strong community that makes members feel part of something. “They don’t feel alone,” she says. “It can get very lonely for small businesses. Here at The Workspace you speak to like-minded people every day, you can bounce off ideas from one another, you network at our functions but also on a daily basis at the coffee bar inside our facilities.”
An added advantage is that members use the services of other members, which leads to income generation within the branch. “Our décor and layouts also play a factor, as we aim to create a creative, comfortable, professional environment. We like to think that we have created a home away from home for our members, somewhere where they can work hard but also relax and an environment that makes them feel inspired and positive!” she says.
Schourie reckons her staff plays a major role too. “I take pride in knowing that my employees love what they do and they love working with all our members,” she says. “They’re part of the reason why The Workspace in The Club is expanding at the rate it is.”