Small Business: Workers prefer co-working spaces over company offices, Bad Company says

Tori Taylor, founder of co-working office space firm Bad Company, talks about the surprising changes Covid-19 has brought about to traditional office working and why workers are shunning the office in favour of co-working spaces.

What does your business do?

Bad Company Workspace is a co-working shared office company and we started four years ago in Mount Maunganui, and we recently took on another space in Wanaka.

What was the motivation for starting it?

It’s not an original idea, co-working has globally been done for around a decade or longer, but I just saw the need in remoter areas of New Zealand where there was a gap in the market for people wanting to work and collaborate, and potentially move out of the big cities. When I moved to Mt Maunganui myself, I was surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs and there were five of us that were very interested in having that camaraderie and co-working environment. I’d worked briefly in a co-working space of sorts in Auckland and it was a really lovely environment where we could complement each others’ businesses and outsource tasks. There is nothing quite like having encouraging people around you to keep you going.

How big is your team?

It’s myself, I have a social media co-ordinator and office managers at both locations.

What kind of worker, and how many, are regularly using your spaces?

There are 20 to 25 in the Wanaka space; 16 permanents and five to 10 casuals throughout the week. With the Mount I have about 18 permanent and 10 to 12 casuals during the week. We have an IP lawyer, e-commerce and design professionals, an industrial designer, draughtsman and accountant, a wide range of people. It is $170 per week for a membership.

We have a casual that comes in from KiwiRail, someone from the NZX and another from PH Care, these are people who would normally work in their company’s office but are deciding to embrace a better work-life balance or have built up that relationship maybe with their boss or manager to work from where they wish. The majority of these people – two out of three – the employer would pay for the membership as the business understands the importance of its mental wellbeing and good work environment.

How has Covid-19 affected your business?

During lockdown no one was allowed in the premise which meant there was no revenue coming in as I wasn’t able to offer the service. Because of the way that the co-working space has cultivated and how it has a sense of team culture, the bounce-back and getting back into it when the alert levels started to come down, it resumed to business as usual. Everyone was very much looking forward to coming back and being part of that community again.

I’ve noticed an increase in interest in co-working, from my observations, gone are the days of sitting in traffic on the way to the city, people have been able to convince their boss they can reach KPIs from working from home and it’s really opened up the variety of people that are interested in this type of thing, especially large corporations that might want to let go of their office lease and utilise co-working and home working. I would say co-working is more productive than working from home and being distracted by putting on the washing. I think the psychology of getting ready for work and going to another premises other than your home helps with productivity.

What are your long-term plans?

Over the next two to five years, we want to have five to six co-working spaces dotted around New Zealand, and have members switching between all five as they wish. We have plans to open spaces in the Hawke’s Bay, Waiheke, Piha and Matakana. I’m watching

the movement of people out of the big cities and into the regions and seeing if that fits the business model. For example, if there was an influx of people moving to Taranaki, then I would be looking at open up spaces there.

What advice do you give others thinking about starting their own firm?

Begin and start anywhere. It can always feel daunting starting a business, especially

amidst a global pandemic, but it is all about problem-solving, knowing that you can always tap into other people’s resources and ask for help. I encourage anyone who has a business idea to share it and go for it.

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