The commercial property industry has had its fair share of ups and downs during recent years. Some locations have fared worse than others, but one persistent reminder that continues to blight those less successful areas is the sight of empty office space.
If your business centre is struggling with under-occupancy, there are more than a few good ideas out there to help transform empty buildings into thriving, vibrant spaces. Here’s a rundown of our favourites – feel free to add your own suggestions too.
Over recent weeks we’ve been reporting on the rise and rise of coworking space. Although still a relatively emerging idea in commercial property circles, with such behemoths as Regus behind it, this trend is fast becoming the next big thing.
Look at Loosecubes for example. You’ll recognise many office buildings in their directory and the idea is simple. Spare space – whether it’s an office, a meeting room, a basement or a whole floor – is filled with desks and offered to individuals by the hour or by the day. It’s perfect for freelancers, mobile professionals and start-ups as it provides a change of scenery, some aspiring like-minded company and plenty of networking opportunities. It allows you to fill your space with creative souls, reap their good ideas and spread the word about your building in the process.
“The power of Loosecubes was eminent in the first 10 minutes of using it,” says Allison of Think Big Partners, a Loosecubes ‘host’. “We cannot wait to see what other individuals this online community can bring into our space.”
Don’t Move: Improve!
Could you prevent your clients from moving by improving your business centre? Look at your empty space. Now consider if you could transform that spare space into an extra meeting room, a communal lounge, a videoconferencing centre, even a networking venue with guest speakers. Speak to other local businesses to gain new ideas, mystery-shop your competitors, and poll your clients to ask for their opinion.
If you’re reluctant to make physical changes then maybe it’s time to get innovative and reach new clients. Have you considered a mobile website? Are your SEO techniques up to scratch? Could you join a brokerage network? The latter has the obvious benefit of increased marketing and lead generation which could take effect almost overnight. What you pay depends on the broker, but 10% is the industry average and it’s usually a small price to pay given the additional marketing activity, sales experience and exposure you’ll benefit from.
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Think Outside the Office Box
What’s in a name? Just because it’s an “office building” doesn’t mean it has to be an office building. Get creative and think outside the box. More and more commercial buildings are opening their doors to art and photography exhibitions, pop-up galleries, community groups and activities. Think Zumba groups, clubs, adult learning classes – you name it!
And how about vertical farming? Based on the principle that when you can’t spread out, spread up – some office buildings are now being transformed into makeshift allotments complete with vegetable patches and grow-your-own initiatives. Take a look at The Vertical Farm and the SPIN Farming website for ideas and inspiration.
There are plenty of options out there to plug the gap between vacancy and occupancy. It’s better to do something with your empty space than nothing at all (and that way it’s no longer empty). Plus the more weird and wonderful your ideas, the more likely you are to get tongues wagging and to generate some free publicity along the way. Every little helps and a little can go a long way! Share your ideas for filling empty space with us, below.