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Serviced offices are NOT for everyone? Growth of specialism in the sector

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Predominant themes within the serviced office sector are ‘community’ and ‘collaboration’; an environment in which like-minded companies can interact with each other and benefit from ideas to strengthen their brand and promote growth.

This concept has been responsible for delivering an increasingly greater proportion of space within serviced offices used for break-out and co-working, areas which encourage greater interaction between tenants whilst remaining free of charge to use.

Due to the massive diversity of tenant types within any given building, however, this idea can be a double-edged sword. Whilst the opportunity for true collaboration is provided, does it actually occur? When a firm of solicitors, an internet start-up and a capital management company take advantage of free community space at the same time, for example, how much regular interaction occurs between them?

The concept of sector-specific serviced offices is not new – CAN Mezzanine, for example, has long been offering serviced space specifically geared towards the charity sector.

That said, few providers have taken this idea and rolled it out across a multi-property portfolio whilst remaining true to their core specialism. Is this due to a lack of sufficient tenants from a precise market sector to provide robust enough occupancy levels?

Techspace does not believe so and has successfully launched a portfolio of 6 buildings with a clear-minded goal of filling them with tech companies, or companies working specifically with the tech sector.

(Example of mixed-use floor at Techspace Whitechapel)

This focus on providing space specifically to tech ‘disruptors’ seems to be working well and occupation levels are robust.

The Techspace model cleverly uses a combination of large co-working areas sold on a fixed desk basis alongside big customisable spaces for established companies (80 to 150 people) to be rented exclusively (their ‘Enterprise’ product). They also offer smaller offices (8-person to 30-person) with shared meeting rooms, kitchen and break-out areas.

This caters for both the entrepreneurial tech start-up community, but also offers rapidly growing scale-ups or established brands large bespoke environments. Taking a walk around the floors very quickly shows that every tenant is in the same boat – the atmosphere is akin to visiting a building occupied by a single company as opposed to a mix of multiple brands.

(Lounge space area at Techspace Aldgate)

(Private bespoke floor at Techspace Shoreditch)

We asked Phil Ellis, CCO of Techspace, to expand on the company’s reasoning behind the exclusion of a vast swathe of business types.

He says: “Techspace is London’s first curated co-working space for tech scale-ups. As a high growth company ourselves, we understand how important is to grow your business among like-minded peers, as we all share the similar challenges. Techspace provides not only by hassle-free workspaces but also valuable introductions or education in funding, recruitment, and thus helping our members to grow steadily.”

Techspace is also looking into spreading their serviced offices for curated tech community across Europe.

Can other industry sectors be targeted in a similar way by serviced offices? We will have to wait and see…

(Compiled by Michael Dubicki, Director of Business Development at Flexioffices - www.flexioffices.co.uk / 020 7061 3620 / 07432 128 618 / Michael.dubicki@flexioffices.com)

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