I first came across the idea of office space subscriptions whilst attending an industry conference in Manhattan in 2016.
Bill Jacobson from www.workbar.com led a session talking about his business exploits in Boston. His team have built up a network of 8 fantastic workspace communities, including an interesting collaboration with Staples to form coworking spaces within their stores. The question he posed on that day was:
“Why would it not become normal to have office space subscriptions?”
We are all familiar the subscription model and most of us consume various products and services on this basis. The more obvious examples being a SKY or Netflix subscription, a monthly mobile phone subscription and more recently a food or “grazing” subscription. Businesses are now using the subscription model to sell everything from shaving equipment to gin.
Perhaps the closest example to the serviced office space subscription is a gym membership. At some time or other, most of us have bought the odd bit of gym equipment, which may now be slowly deteriorating at the back of the garage. The vast majority of us might not be able to afford a large gym. Not to mention the equipment, staff, a swimming pool and all the services to maintain such an outlay.
However, by using a membership or subscription model we can collectively share the cost of the facilities which means we afford a much bigger, better equipped and inspirational space than we would on our own.
Bill was suggesting that as technology gets better and the work life balance shifts more towards a blended way of work and play, people will begin to demand workspace which is inspirational and not dull and used on an adhoc basis rather than 9-5. Ease of access, superfast internet access and community all play a part in this new world of work.
The LibertySpace Philosophy
When I first heard it, I did wonder if this could really happen. Could the real estate industry actually cope with this more fluid approach and would customers really adopt the model.
We have been using a partial membership model for our coworking lounges at the Kinross and Rosyth locations for about 3 years. Fast forward two years from Bill’s talk and I am fully converted.
In fact, our latest development, the Flour Mill Dundee, includes a whole floor dedicated to coworking. It also boasts a large business lounge, event space and private offices. All sold on a membership basis. It has been amazing to see how quickly people get on board and recognise the simplicity of the model.
All users of the building will have a membership of The Flour Mill Dundee business community. That means business lounge for hot deskers, or traditional 2 or 3 person office users are part of the same gang. The subscription will give them access to the business lounge, meeting rooms and Mill Community events. The whole space will have superfast fibre wifi access, available anywhere in the 5 storeys of this fantastic historical building.
Still sceptical? Give it time, office space subscriptions could be coming to you sooner than you think.