DeskUnion to Launch First RBS Coworking Space in Edinburgh

UK coworking marketplace, DeskUnion, has sealed a major deal with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The move will see Desk Union actively manage a coworking space on the first floor of the bank’s flagship branch, 36 St Andrew Square, in central Edinburgh.

Branded Desk Union at The Square, the workspace will provide 24 workstations and meeting space, which can be rented by the hour. The space is set to launch in August this year.

Victoria Arnold, founder and CEO of Desk Union, says she is “absolutely delighted”. This is an exciting opportunity both for Desk Union and for the wider coworking market. Any opportunity to link in with a major brand, particularly a corporate powerhouse such as RBS, is a significant achievement.

And there’s more to come, too.

According to Chris Wilson, managing director of branch and private banking at RBS, any profits raised from the inaugural Desk Union at The Square will be “reinvested back in to creating similar workspaces around the country”. RBS has hundreds of branches across the UK which, if successful, bodes exceptionally well for Desk Union.

Victoria added: “We are currently identifying next steps with RBS in terms of a potential further roll out. We would be delighted to hear from other corporations that are interested in doing something similar.”

Of course for RBS, who want to be seen supporting growth businesses and “getting the economy moving”, the coworking space offers a vehicle through which they can invite local entrepreneurs into their space and increase brand and marketing awareness.

“Pioneering”

The deal has been described as “pioneering”, and that it certainly is.

RBS isn’t the first bank to offer coworking – back in 2011 ING Direct launched a cafe with informal shared workspace at its Toronto branch. However given the rising popularity of coworking and its ability to help corporations engage with the local business community, not to mention its potential as a marketing tool, we can expect to see more banks take up the baton in the future.

And not just banks, but virtually any business or industry sector with access to a physical workspace and local demand. Indeed this offers various possibilities for operators of business centres, coworking spaces and flexible workspace.

Of course there is often a fine line between opportunity and threat. Hotels, for instance, continue to increase their workspace presence and many business centres, particularly those in towns and city centres, are competing directly with hotels for meeting rooms and workspace.

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But the threat of competition from new market entrants can be abated, providing you play the partnership card first.

That’s just what LiquidSpace did – and now they power Marriott Hotel’s workspace booking platform. Huckletree, a sustainable coworking space in London, has also partnered with numerous local brands both as a way to support its members and to introduce new revenue opportunities. Their list of partners ranges from digital design and startup funding to, yes, banks.

These, along with Desk Union’s link-up, offer yet more examples of the flexible workspace sector’s incredible diversity and its ability to flex and adapt to a multitude of different scenarios. Victoria and team have demonstrated that these enormous opportunities are there for the taking. And with corporate giants like RBS now onboard, the only question now is: where next?

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