Global Coworking Group Flexes Muscles with Australian Expansion

27 November 2023

In a move set to capitalise on the continued popularity of flexible working styles post-COVID, global flexible workspace group The Great Room by Industrious will open its first Australian location – with the high-end, hospitality-led coworking space set to shake up Australia’s flex space market.

The Great Room by Industrious will open its doors in January 2024 at Level 29, 85 Castlereagh Street in Sydney’s CBD. The space will deliver a full floor of premium coworking facilities over 1,200 square metres to cater to the city’s dynamic and ever-evolving workforce.

The entry of a new player into Sydney’s coworking sector is a sign of continued confidence in the burgeoning sector, with demand rising to pre-pandemic levels. According to CBRE’s 2023 Australian Flex Space in the Age of Hybrid Work report, Sydney is the largest office market in Australia – with close proximity to finance, insurance, and professional services – and already leads the country in terms of flex availability, accounting for 3.2% of coworking spaces nationally. This is buoyed by increasing demand from the city’s rising tech sector, as well as multinational companies, freelancers, and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).

Sydney’s new The Great Room by Industrious bolsters its Asia-Pacific portfolio to ten coworking spaces – with six in Singapore, including a luxe venue within the iconic Raffles Hotel, two co-working venues in Bangkok, and one in Hong Kong. The Great Room was acquired by Industrious, currently the third largest global flex space operator, which boasts more than 160 coworking venues in 65 cities.

According to CBRE’s report, the majority of corporate occupiers are expected to increase their flex exposure by up to 10% over the next three years. Persistent work-from-home habits are driving occupiers to increasingly consider flex space as part of their office portfolios, and both landlords and tenants alike are embracing flex spaces for a range of reasons – including greater experiential benefits, flexible contracts, cost efficiency, and adaptability.

As testimony to this, The Great Room by Industrious has already achieved pre-commitment on more than half of its space, securing memberships from companies within the technology, property, financial services, and legal services sectors.

The launch of The Great Room’s first Sydney flex space is underpinned by the appointment of Josh Alfafara as General Manager and head of Australian operations. With over a decade of experience in the commercial real estate and flex space markets, Mr Alfafara has a proven track record in driving the growth and expansion of coworking enterprises across both Australia and the Philippines.

“We are very excited to raise the bar within the coworking market by providing a unique new premium offering,” he said.

“Flex spaces foster collaboration and strengthen productivity – The amenities and experiential benefits provided by coworking spaces such as The Great Room have been a significant factor in the ‘flight to quality’ that we’re witnessing within Sydney’s office market. It’s important for businesses to ‘earn the commute’ if they’re seeking to attract and retain top talent.

Coworking also produces lower overheads than traditional office leases, and integrating flex space within a commercial asset creates an ecosystem which benefits all tenants. With half of the floor already committed to a few months before we open, it is a clear sign that demand is rising, and so are people’s expectations of what a flex space can provide,” said Mr Alfafara.

“The Great Room is a unique player within the coworking market due to our focus on community. We play an active role in promoting learning and development while encouraging our members’ mental and emotional well-being. We also foster community amongst our members through curated events and experience – our mission has always been to bring more inspiration and connection into the workplace.”

According to Alfafara, The Great Room by Industrious is set to expand in Australia, looking to open locations within several key cities by Q4 2024.

Those who hold memberships with The Great Room can access all coworking spaces owned by Industrious, including a range of offices across Europe. This is especially attractive for multinational enterprises, global freelancers, and executive travellers, marking a significant difference between The Great Room and comparable flex space providers.

CBRE’s 2023 report identified shared meeting and event spaces, nearby food and beverage options, and public transport connectivity as key selling points for corporate tenants – all of which are offered by The Great Room.

“Our office locations are strategically placed and surrounded by transport, retail, hospitality, and wellness facilities. Our membership benefits include global access to over 160 centrally located and well-designed coworking spaces, and these are highly desirable points of difference for many,” said Mr Alfafara.

The Great Room was founded in Singapore in 2016 and acquired by the US-based flexible workspace provider last year. Global real estate consultancy CBRE also holds a 40% stake in Industrious.

The Great Room by Industrious in Sydney will offer a range of flexible membership plans, catering to businesses of all sizes. These include dedicated offices for 3 to 30 persons, hot desk options for small teams, freelancers, and start-ups, day passes for short-term space and amenity use, and virtual office services for businesses needing a distinguished corporate address.

An enterprise suite option is also available, offering custom solutions tailored to the unique needs of each business. According to the CBRE report, enterprise-type flex deals are a relative rarity in Sydney, making The Great Room an attractive option for occupants who are expanding or seeking project space.

The Great Room’s new Sydney space will feature interiors by award-winning architects HASSELL, who have previously delivered sleek, high-end fit-outs for locations in both Singapore and Hong Kong. The new Sydney space will feature 35 dedicated offices and collaboration areas, as well as a bar which offers skyline views and overlooks Sydney’s iconic Hyde Park.

Tied closely to the site’s distinctive CBD location, HASSELL’s interiors offer luxe office design with a hospitality-inspired twist, incorporating bespoke furniture and joinery, rich colour palettes, high-end finishes and warm, inviting lighting.

Key amenities include enterprise-grade technology and connectivity, 24/7 office access, shower facilities, weekly Breakfast Club, networking drinks, exclusive business, learning and lifestyle events, and meeting and event spaces.