A new-age approach to renting office space that provides corporate-level facilities for small companies has got the business community buzzing in Hawke’s Bay.
From high-end offices, super-fast Internet connectivity, hi-tech meeting and board rooms, a café with great coffee, a chilled water station with still and sparkling water and relaxing lounge area, to luxury bathrooms with showers and changing lockers, small businesses can now enjoy the trappings of a swish corporate office.
Rob and Jenny Gill bought the former Hastings Farmers store in 2018. The large building on the corner of Queen Street and Market Street was completely redeveloped and earthquake strengthened in 2014, becoming the National Operations Centre for Kiwibank.
Part of the building remained undeveloped until the Gills identified an opportunity in Hastings for high-quality, shared workspaces. Rob says the complex, called Hastings HIVE, is based on the shared workplace concept pioneered in international trading centres like London, New York and Toronto.
He says this movement, which they’ve branded ‘i-space’, has been spreading globally, fuelled by a need for adaptable workspaces and a desire for better quality but shared resources, supporting modern agile work practices with intelligent design and the latest information technologies.
Rob illustrates why adaptable spaces are important: “Previously, we owned an IT business that was locked into a 10-year lease, ratcheting up 3 percent a year. This at a time when rents around us fell by up to 30 percent after the 2008 global financial crisis. We had to lay off staff as this lack of flexibility with one of our biggest fixed costs was really hurting us. It was a very stressful time to own a small business.
“So we were determined our customers would have some of the best working conditions and professional support available anywhere in New Zealand, so they can concentrate on their core business and leave the contextual stuff to us and our professional partners.”
Being an i-space, the first partner on board was local ICT company Glenn Cook Technologies, whose job it was to ensure customers have the best and most resilient networking and Internet experience possible. The ultra-secure Aruba system that powers the new network is normally found only in large corporate sites. Better still, like most services at Hastings HIVE, networking is included in the monthly rental plan.
“We have certainly gone to the next level with office fit-out,” says interior designer Amy Henderson, who recently returned to New Zealand from working in London. “The design brief was to create a sophisticated workplace that provides small businesses the opportunity to work in an environment that usually only large corporates can afford. Fundamentally, people work better when they love where they work.
“What sets this i-space apart from co-working spaces I have seen here and overseas is the quality of the fit-out, the high-end products we specified and the craftsmanship on display. MCL Construction (based in Hastings) have done a world-class job.”
Local architects Fat Parrot have designed a highly functional space that customers can adapt as needed but know that almost everything they might require is provided for, from fixtures and fittings to the café and lounge setting, meeting spaces and five-star hotel-like bathrooms.
This i-space, the first of many the Gill’s say, offers a range of flexible workspaces to suit most uses and budgets, starting from a one-person i-desk up to larger i-offices sized from 26 m2 to 78 m2 and suitable for six to twenty people. All this, amazingly, with a 30 to 40 percent lower total occupancy cost than leasing your own office, with no long fixed-term leases or guarantees required.
“Success for us will be seeing our first i-desk customer move to an i-office,” says Rob. “And that’s the incubator opportunity that we hope will boost the local economy – it’s about supporting people, growing business and creating jobs.”