Coworking spaces have redefined the traditional office model, replacing uniform, lock-in contract offices with flexible options for small businesses and freelancers.
According to the 2019 Global Coworking Survey by Deskmag, the number of coworking venues worldwide is estimated to grow to more than 26,000 in 2020.
Step inside these creative hubs and you’ll find colourful, open-plan spaces teaming with solo workers as well as semi-private offices occupied by the likes of tech companies, start-ups and small businesses.
They’re also full of creative meeting and event spaces –and you don’t have to be a tenant to use them.
Coworking provider WOTSO has 18 locations currently operating or under construction across Australia and Asia, offering more than 30,000 square metres of coworking space.
According to chief operating officer Tom Aitchison, office and desk rental make up the core of the business, but venue hire is a growing revenue stream that currently accounts for about 5 per cent.
“We have multiple meeting rooms with varying sizes,” he says.
These include 20-person meeting rooms through to signature ‘amphitheatre’ spaces for 80 people or more.
“There’s a lot of untapped potential,” says Aitchison.
Not-for-profit provider Fishburners is another big player in the coworking space, offering shared space for tech start-ups in Brisbane, Sydney and Shanghai. Event space hire makes up roughly 10 per cent of the business, says CEO Nicole O’Brien.
“Both Sydney and Brisbane have really fantastic venues for events,” she says.
“We’ve been able to create facilities that we can provide to thebroader community on a fee-for-service basis and being a not-for-profit, that allows us to have another source of revenue generation that we can invest back in the start-up communities that we support.”
So what are the benefits of choosing a coworking event space over a traditional meeting room? According to O’Brien, the coworking environment is simply an inspiring place to be.
“We call them our creative events and ideas spaces because I suppose they’re always designed with that in mind,” she says.
“That’s why people like them; they’re not your average hotel conference room, and they’ve got lots of really large windows and natural light, which is such a rare thing to find in CBD properties.”
Aitchison says while coworking spaces differ from traditional meeting spaces, all the basics are provided, often for an affordable price.
“We don’t set them up to have a five-star hotel conference facilities as such,but we’ve got AV, internet, catering, everything ready to go,” he says.
WOTSO coworking spaces are mostly located outside of major CBDs in an effort to be easily accessible for members. Aitchison says the locality is another drawcardf or corporate groups.
“There’s [now] event spaces in areas where there aren’t hotels or function centres,” he says.
Whether it’s a workshop, team brainstorming day or general business meeting, corporate groups looking for something a little out of the ordinary will find a wealth of creative event spaces inside coworking hubs.
It’s why businesses such as Lendlease, ING, VISA and Atlassian have all held events at Fishburners, says O’Brien.
“It’s just a novel, unique environment to be in and to get into somewhere completely different,” she says.
“You would hope that stimulates some new ideas and innovation.”
Inspiring spaces for your next event
Located in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, this coworking hub is bursting with creativity. Event planners can choose from the 16-seat Corporate Cave, the 12-seat Ping Pong Room or the Picnic Room for larger groups of 45 delegates.
Fishburners Sydney, located at York Street in the CBD, offers the Ideas Space, which can host up to 250 guests for a standing function or 100 theatre style, and the Event Space, which caters for up to 300 guests or can be divided for smaller groups. There are also two private boardrooms on offer.
WOTSO’s Pyrmont location in Sydney offers four event spaces, including the Nook for up to six people or the Room of Requirement for up to 10. The Green Room is a relaxed boardroom space for up to 20 people, while the Ampitheatre can host up to 80 guests.
This article originally appeared in Summer edition of Spice Magazine.