Sophisticated and connected: why start ups have never had it so good
Article3 min15 September 2016
The business sector has long coordinated its tenancy requirements according to rank, and the property industry has respectfully conformed; major corporates and blue chips to the high rise floors of premium towers, and small businesses to the lower grades, lower rises and urban fringes.
It was a natural and obvious equation of affordability.
But as technology changes the way we work, where we work and when we work, the old logic doesn’t seem to make sense. As innovators innovate, so too do the providers of office space. For start-up enterprises no longer idealised as jeans-wearing coffee drinkers who high-five ideas over foosball tables there’s never been a better time to be in business.
The stereotypes of business, and the way the property industry traditionally responded to them, are changing. Start-ups aren’t just tee-shirted youngsters with million dollar ideas; they’re lawyers, financiers, medicos, business administrators, recruiters, fund managers, entrepreneurs and innovators. They’re people who need to connect to people, both across a table and around the world. They’re people who can’t afford for the family dog to interrupt an important teleconference while operating from a home office, or be unable to join a video conference because their shared-space ADSL is once again experiencing downtime or traffic overload. And they’re people who need an address of substance; a place to impress their stakeholders, collaborate with peers and build strategies over weeklong think tanks in spaces that make sense.
The home garage route is of course still available but far less attractive when considering the bounty on offer.
Dexus Place is a great example. Fifteen months ago we decided to do something different at Dexus; we took over an entire floor of an office building in the Sydney CBD and gave it a top shelf fit-out and equipped it with the latest collaborative technology. We called it Dexus Place, offered it to our tenants as additional flex meeting room space to their own accommodation and opened it up to ‘club’ members and pay-as-you go users.
Imagine the difference of being a start-up 20 years ago, where connecting globally meant the heavy burden and cost of flights, accommodation and long absences from your office and home, to now being able to walk into a room and connect globally at the touch of a button. On demand.
You can order a room, the size you need, when you need it, with technology available that you could likely never have afforded on your own - audio conferencing, immersive studios, recordable rooms - agnostic collaboration technology that allows you to plug and play whatever device you choose to bring.
This is the tip of the workplace revolution.
The serviced office industry has long been an established route for small businesses and start-ups, and remains a staple accommodation provider in the sector. But the advent of user-pays collaboration spaces is the next obvious step as we foster innovation by providing something that goes far beyond design and moves us into a territory of accessibility, availability and affordability.
Dexus Place has been a successful initiative – we’ve grown from one location in one city, to three locations in three cities in just 16 months (with another Sydney location at 1 Farrer Place to be launched on 12 October). It demonstrates the growing demand for agile business spaces, along with a high level of demand from start-ups to access meaningful collaboration and meeting spaces that will place them light years ahead of their predecessors.
What’s fascinating to note is that the start-ups of today aren’t relegated to collaborating in spaces on the urban fringes, they’re now playing in the domain once held exclusively by the big end of town – in the premium towers and in the high rises. It’s the property equivalent of collective bargaining. The ability to access everything you need when you need it, because you’ve shared costs with others.
The workplace evolution that continues to unfold is as fascinating as the technology that supports it. What is more obvious than ever is that a property company’s role is becoming less about providing spaces for you to work hard in, and more about providing spaces that work harder for you.