Global flex space operator launches in Australia

21 February 2024

Global flex space operator The Great Room by Industrious has opened its first Australian coworking space in Sydney, elevating the rapidly evolving sector with its sleek interiors and hospitality-inspired approach – and bringing its Asia-Pacific portfolio to 10 locations.

It reflects the growing trend for Australian landlords to incorporate coworking into commercial office towers in collaboration with flex operators. These partnerships boost occupancy in the commercial office sector while delivering greater flexibility to major corporate tenants seeking to “right size” – effectively reducing their leased floorspace footprint, yet with the option to tap into flex space as needed.

Located on Level 29 at 85 Castlereagh Street in Sydney’s CBD, The Great Room by Industrious delivers a full floor of premium coworking facilities. Almost 70% of the floor was pre-leased, attracting companies from across the technology, property, financial and legal services sectors – an impressive feat given that occupancy rates for fully-operational flex spaces usually peak at around 70%.

“Sydney’s coworking sector is sophisticated, and our occupancy rate at opening is beyond our expectations – the groundswell of demand for premium flex space shows us that we have entered the market at the right time. Sydney’s CBD was perfect for our first Australian location, and we are excited to expand our presence, pursuing promising opportunities with landlords and locations that align with our vision,” said Jaelle Ang, CEO and Co-Founder of The Great Room by Industrious.

According to Ms. Ang, landlords work alongside the coworking operator under a partnership agreement, which delivers symbiotic benefits to both parties.

“Our business model means that 78% of our locations worldwide are not leased under a traditional agreement, but rather under a partnership between the landlord and The Great Room.  This puts us on a sustainable growth path,” said Ms. Ang.

The 1,200-square-metre space was secured by The Great Room by Industrious from landlord 151 Property.

The Great Room by Industrious is already making waves in Sydney’s evolving flex space sector and is known for its premium interiors and place-making events and activations. it offers a diverse range of flexible work options from hot desks, day passes, and virtual office services to dedicated offices for over 20 people.

According to leading commercial real estate agency CBRE, Sydney currently boasts the largest share of coworking spaces in the country, accounting for over 40% of all national stock with further growth expected over the coming years.

“Coworking boosts activity within office towers and helps buoy occupancy while traditional leasing activity wanes. The strategic adoption of flex space can boost asset value through the delivery of new amenities, third spaces and collaborative areas, and also helps activate previously under-utilised zones,” said Josh Alfafara, General Manager of The Great Room by Industrious Sydney.

“Undoubtedly, the way we work has changed forever, and flex spaces provide the next-generation work space business is seeking, along with added perks that help ‘earn the commute’ and retain talent,” he added.

Based on data from CBRE, coworking operators account for only 3.1% of existing office stock in the Sydney CBD.

“Demand for coworking space is expected to increase over the coming year as office re-occupancy rates continue to accelerate following the downturn seen over the pandemic. CBRE estimates that office visitation reached 75% of pre-COVID levels in 2023 and that this figure could reach 90% this year,” said CBRE Research Manager, Thomas Biglands.

“Given the broad shift to more flexible work arrangements which we’ve seen post-COVID, coworking will play in important part in occupiers’ portfolios as return-to-office rates improve going forward,” he added.

Regular place-making activations and events are a signature of The Great Room by Industrious. These include signature events, such as the weekly Monday Breakfast Club, Great Thirstday networking drinks, and regular ‘Spend The Night’ series, where members can learn from notable guest speakers and industry leaders.

“The Great Room by Industrious is centred around three key factors – flexibility, freedom and experience. We allow our members to scale-up or right-size easily, without the need for long-term commitments or big financial investments. Plus, we want to offer members the freedom to decide where, when and how they work most productively. We create an environment that  encourages networking and engagement, and aim to build strong communities that work and learn together,” said Mr. Alfafara.

“We build engaging spaces that foster community and this is attractive to freelancers and remote workers, but also mature start-ups through to larger companies who want to keep employees engaged and motivated,” he added.

The Great Room was established in 2016 and was acquired by Industrious in 2022. Industrious is currently the world’s third-largest global flex space operator, with more than 160 coworking venues in 65 cities. It is backed by CBRE, which owns a 40% stake in the company.

The global network unlocks access to a wide range of coworking spaces across Europe, the US, and the Asia-Pacific, alongside enterprise-grade technology and access to meeting and event spaces.