Coworking “doesn’t work”
As reported recently, Threadneedle Street introduces a number of new features for BE Offices – including a collaborative lounge area on the ground floor. But it’s definitely not a coworking space.
“Coworking doesn’t work!” says David.
“Once you’ve grown past 19, you want to work. You don’t want free beer. Who wants drunk staff? If you look behind the scenes of WeWork, it’s a business centre. Probably 10% of their space is coworking, which serves a purpose. The rest is made up of glass cubicles and serviced offices.”
Despite the rapid rise of coworking in London, David “remains to be convinced of its viability.”
At Threadneedle Street, BE’s collaborative space is reserved exclusively for clients of serviced offices and is positioned as a “communal space”.
Explaining further: “You can’t make coworking pay when you’ve got £6million per year in rent. But, what WeWork has done is create a network of clients that can use space all around the world. They haven’t re-invented the wheel, they’ve made alloys instead.”
So with coworking out and design-led spaces very much in, what else can we expect from BE in 2017?
“It will be an interesting year. We will be expanding rapidly and there is going to be more consolidation in the industry. There could be more small and medium-sized operators coming into play, and we’ll be open to opportunities.”
“We’re currently looking at two office buildings in London, and potentially in the West End and Midtown too.”
As for flexible office industry as a whole, David is highly optimistic about its future: “The industry grows faster and faster each year. Next year I believe it’s going to grow exponentially, faster than it ever has.
“We’re in a snowball situation. More and more new operators are coming on board. Gone are the days of conventional landlords serving 5-10 year leases. Business changes so dynamically; why would anyone commit to that?”
Looking ahead, David added: “It’s now about offering a whole environment to the occupier. Operators have been putting roof gardens in offices for years, now the newest buildings in London have roof gardens, basketball courts, the works!
“Companies now know that they get more out of their employees if they enjoy their environment. And that’s good news for all of us.”