WeWork might be spooking investors, but that hasn’t stopped Australian $31.8 billion property giant Dexus digging deeper into the up-market co-working trend, throwing open the doors to its schmick new Perth facility to target tech-hungry clients looking to do business out West.
In yet another confirmation that property heavyweights are looking to outdo traditional sharespaces on high-tech fitouts, Dexus’ new digs at 240 St Georges Terrace claims it “blurs the lines between office, home and hotel with features including kitchens, lounges and breakout areas.”
It’s a far cry from the stripped back, industrialist feel of many of Sydney’s agile haunts where polished concrete, exposed beams and stainless steel food prep-benches on castors are refashioned for mobile stand-up meetings.
Co-working used to be a hip alternative to cubicle fitouts for businesses that wanted to signal their innovation credentials to their customers and potential employees. And its hallmark was refashioned office space that would otherwise be snubbed by conventional tennants.
But now the big guns of property, like Dexus and GPT are getting in on the act, eyeing tidy profits from purpose built and operated facilities that shamelessly target the increasingly hip and snobby tech set that simply won’t touch a regular office lease.
Having watched sharespaces disrupt the value model of traditional static office lettings, Dexus – which is one of Australia’s biggest office space owners and managers – is about to let the pay-per-use office space model slip through its fingers.
That’s highly significant because it shifts co-working from an arbitrage opportunity that uses technology to get around property market constraints, to technology driving property builds and business models right from the ground floor of funding.
Logically, Dexus wants to call the shots too. Because when you fund commercial, retail and industrial real estate as a core business, you get complete control over architectural design, technology integration and fitout. And that’s a differentiator.
And hip is fast giving way to chic.
Immodestly dubbed ‘Dexus Place Perth’, the new site doesn’t have a bean bag or foosball table in sight, opting instead for a “9-seat Polycom RealPresence Immersive Studio” and a swag of meeting, training and “event and networking spaces” that span from small scale video conferencing to full theatre presentations.
It’s a facility altogether more geared to the corporate set, or at least clients that want to maintain a professionalised persona to mobile staff or clients, with brochure-ware featuring users dressed in smart corporate workwear rather than t-shirts, hoodies and designer sneakers.
The real target market is clients that would otherwise use hotel meeting rooms, airport loyalty clubs or traditional serviced offices that charge a premium for convenience but often pull up short on full scale office and meeting space technology.
“There is an increasing trend towards integrated workspaces that provide flexibility and high amenity as businesses recognise the benefits that flexible environments can have on workplace culture and efficiency,” Dexus head of office leasing, Chris Hynes, said.
“We are seeing that our customers’ number one priority is flexibility and we can now offer our Perth based and visiting customers the benefits of a state-of-the-art workspace with the flexibility of access from one hour to one month.”
The property trust is also banking on clients using its already established facilities in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane opting to extend their usage of Dexus facilities in Perth and vice versa, or nix the need for travel altogether.
Hynes said businesses were looking for “cost-effective, sophisticated way to collaborate with staff and clients in different locations, doing away with the need for expensive interstate business travel or having to lease expensive CBD office space.”
And in the glossies, there’s not a Post It Note in sight.
Cue the next series of The Office, set in a collaborative, activity-based workspace near you soon.