CSBC was thrilled to appear in The Age on 6 April 2018, where CEO Michael Benson discussed how flexible office solutions and community delivers success for businesses. Below is the transcript from the article.
Agility is the catch cry of businesses looking to keep pace with change
Corporations are increasingly leasing co-working spaces and serviced offices as the sector’s offerings become more sophisticated, the CEO of a leading co-working firm says.
“If you go back three years and look at the spaces, many were very small, 500 square metres, and grungy. They were incubators,” says Michael Benson, CEO of CSBC, one of the largest providers of co-working spaces and serviced offices in Melbourne.
“I have seen a massive improvement in the quality of service provided in the co-work industry.” He cites the increasing popularity of features such as front receptions, highly secure internet connections and meeting facilities.
Co-working spaces are rapidly becoming a popular choice across Melbourne. What was once a niche offering for start-ups or individual freelancers is now viewed as a less cumbersome real estate solution for small-to medium-size firms, as well as some divisions of corporate clients.
A 2017 Knight Frank report estimates co-working hubs occupy 184 spaces totalling 95,000 square metres in Melbourne, and growing.
“The flexible model has become more accepted in the market,” Benson says. “Businesses have worked out they can reduce their real estate footprint and their staff can be accommodated in comfortable, and really exciting premises. They can be connected to other businesses.”
He says companies are also figuring out that long-term offices “aren’t just contingent liabilities, they’re actual liabilities. A firm might sign a lease for 5000 square metres for 10 years and eight years down the track decide they want to get out of the lease. Who’s going to rent that space from them?”
CSBC offers flexible options with clients hiring offices for anywhere from a few hours to six years and beyond. CSBC also offers the option to up size or downsize as required.
“A client might have two IT guys working in the office, then suddenly they get a project needing 20 people. We can find the space for them in our premises so they can upsize to 20 people and then in 6 months’ time, down-size to 8.”
Offices have a range of meeting rooms for face-to-face business or for privacy as required.
As well as physical infrastructure, CSBC offers weekly casual networking events where people can introduce their businesses and themselves. Benson notes that these social events have led to unexpected business opportunities for clients.
CSBC aims to provide flexible office options to suit business requirements.
“If you meet somebody a couple of times, you chat socially and work out what they do; then if you’re looking for somebody to do work, it becomes an easier and more real connection than, say, just looking on the internet.
“You actually develop a trust that you can’t get elsewhere.”
Not only is the model good for business, it also means employees may feel good about going to work.
“We are finding that staff are staying for a longer period of time because they’re happier people in an environment where they can connect with multiple people,” Benson says.
CSBC is expanding to Sydney and Brisbane and recently secured its first international outpost, in Shanghai. Key to success, Benson argues, is that CSBC is “actually all about our clients”.
“We don’t have a giant brand sign saying `CSBC’ at the front of our spaces. We become their business address, their environment. It creates a real corporate community.”