By Chris Stewart, Managing Director, Detail & Build
Having recently worked with many of the leading co-working providers, there are a number of factors that make supplying fit out construction services to this industry rewarding for all stakeholders:
Providing the right up front advice
Early engagement with a fit out contractor often provides valuable suggestions regarding the elements of the building to focus on during the design stage. Especially when co-working spaces take character buildings, it is important to ensure that return on investment remains with the areas that add value to the occupiers and set the scheme apart from the competition.
With densities of 1 person per 5.5 sq m we experience extra demand on base build services such as HVAC and Power utilities. Structural surveys; validation of existing power and HVAC plant can identify potential risk areas that would be costly to fix and reduce spend on the areas that support growth and encourage collaboration such as event spaces and communal breakout areas.
Getting the fit out completed quickly
One area that really sets co-working businesses apart is the speed with which they operate. Deals for spaces often occur much faster than traditional lease negotiations and this reduces the amount of lead in for construction companies to prepare for the fit out. We have established a different project design process that focuses on early technical design development and replication of specification, enabling the landlord’s license documentation to be completed and fit out to commence rapidly.
This quick start also ensures an early completion, allowing quick open and revenue generation from the space. We also take advantage of new technologies to aid the sales process for our co-working clients. We have recently produced a Virtual Reality model of the completed space and opened our doors during construction so that prospective members can visit the construction site and still experience the finished product in VR which resulted in 20% of the membership being sold prior to the fit out being completed.
Co-working spaces need to sweat their asset by producing maximum occupancy whilst ensuring the working environment remains attractive and supportive. The specification of products is core to this balanced approach of value for money in relation to the right look and feel. With many entrants to the co-working market, providing a product that is unique and diverse can only be achieved through careful design and choice of scope. We advise many of our clients of the most leading edge thinking in fit out that suits the commercial aspects of the project.
Co-working businesses are experts at gathering teams together to develop and deliver their vision for their spaces. We have found that on most co-working projects there are multiple service providers to work with such as, designers, IT providers and stylists. Our Detail and Build division was specifically set up for this type of project structure and fosters a collaborative partnership approach to contracting which makes the process a team effort.
Providing a service that suits their client’s spatial needs perfectly is a key selling point for co-working businesses. We often find that mid-way through a fit out, a deal for a client appears that needs a swift change to the layout. Our supply chain know this is a vital part of the co-working model and take change in their stride. We pre agree rates and time scales to make changes simple, whilst adopting a can do attitude to facilitate change.
Many of the occupiers of co-working spaces experience rapid change in their office requirement as they develop and as such being able to quickly adapt their space by moving walls, increasing desk density whilst relocating M&E and IT infrastructure. Having sufficient resources allocated to our fast moving, entrepreneurial co-working clients is vital in being able to respond to their requests quickly and effectively. We have dedicated client project teams who work on repeat projects, retaining knowledge of the product, specification and price point guaranteeing consistency.
Understanding their business model
Central to ensuring a good return on the fit out investment is getting the budget right. Whether the co-working site wants to attract C-suite Directors or first year graduates the budget forms a key factor in how quickly the site get into profit and how much it makes. We offer clear advice and provide transparent costs in order to meet the design specification, control the budget and maximise returns. We have often recommended changes to the layout and specification in order to improve returns and facilitate early membership subscriptions.
Chris is the Managing Director of Area’s Detail and Build division. Working in the London fit out market since 1997, Chris has worked on award-winning projects, totalling over 2,000,000 sq ft across all procurement routes and sectors including Landlord / Tenant / High End Residential and Retail projects.
Chris has delivered 5 projects for co-working client Central Working, he also led the detail and build project for the latest Clubhouse project in Holborn alongside Fletcher Priest Architects and Gardiner & Theobald quantity surveyors. He will be attending GCUC’s first UK Conference, which is taking place on 25th and 26th September at Kings Place in Kings Cross, London. Get in touch should you want to discuss further, or to set up a meeting.