Publish date: 19/08/2020

Local operators of co-working and shared office spaces are anticipating an increase in demand as Covid-19 continues to disrupt the traditional office setup for many businesses.

Ryan Peni of Niche Shared Space says there has been an increase in inquiries and an uptake on hot-desking at his Rangiora premises.

“There are two categories of people that I believe we are seeing here,” explains Ryan. “Those who have wanted to be part of the co-working community for some time and have been prompted to act by recent events, and those who have felt the novelty of working from home now disappear and have realised the importance of social interaction.”

Ryan says a 2019 global market research paper estimated that co-working is now a $26billion industry and continues to grow.  “In a post-Covid world, this will only increase,” he says. “This will be through individuals wanting to be part of a co-working environment, or big business downsizing their offices to accommodate for more flexible and cost-effective solutions.”

A new co-working space – Dynamic Coworking – opened in Kaiapoi last month and owner Geoff Barclay says the timing was right to turn his existing office space into a co-working option.

“We could see there was a change happening with the way some businesses and people were working, with a shift to more affordable, flexible, remote office working options, away from large office blocks in the city,” he says. “This was further highlighted with the advent of Covid and the requirement for people to work away from their office. Along with more advanced technology, this has allowed small business owners and employees of larger businesses to reassess how and where they work from to allow a better work / family balance with less commuting time and reduced travel costs.”

Geoff says that the advantages of co-working, such as having no fixed lease terms and no operating costs attracts a wide range of people including small business operators currently working from home, Christchurch businesses looking to reduce their employees’ commute time and businesses that are downsizing.

Ryan points out that the primary attraction for many who choose to co-work is the social interaction and networking opportunities. “The biggest attribute to our space is that we are able to meet people and support each other’s businesses. There is an unbelievable feel of community and support here. What we don’t want right now is for people to be stuck in their home offices and not integrating into the community.”

Niche Shared Space and Dynamic Coworking both offer hot desk options, short and long term office leases and meeting or board room hire. Other shared office spaces in the region – those with private offices which utilise shared facilities such as meeting rooms, bathrooms and kitchens – are also seeing an increase in interest.

“Owners of shared offices are telling me that spaces are being snapped up as fast as they’re listed,” says Heather Warwick of Enterprise North Canterbury. “The inevitable downsizing and rethinking of office spaces due to Covid-19 is certainly in play here. Whilst it’s an uncertain time for many, we’re glad to see that local businesses are supporting local businesses by utilising the many shared spaces on offer here in North Canterbury.”