Desk for hire

Even if you can do most of your work from a home office or a café, you still need a place to hold meetings, meet clients, often also a quiet place where you can take a business call or do creative work. Nowadays, the number of options to choose from is greater than ever. The office-sharing trend is clearly evolving to fill more and more niches

S erviced and co-working office space is becoming increasingly popular in Poland with the demand for flexible office solutions in the country being driven by both start-ups and large corporations, according to a recent report by Savills. Warsaw currently features a total of nearly 84,000 sqm of flexible office space in 95 locations, 44,000 sqm of which are serviced offices and 40,000 sqm are co-working spaces. Meanwhile Kraków and Poznań offer almost 15,000 sqm in 25 locations and over 8,200 sqm in 18 locations respectively, the study said. Key flexible office providers (offering a total of at least 3,000 sqm in at least two locations) include Brain Embassy, Business Link, CitySpace, Dago, InOffice, Office Hub, OmniOffice and Regus. Their share in the total office space take-up increased from 0.4 percent in 2010 to 1.9 percent in 2016. “It remains to be seen how much space the Polish market will be able to absorb. Following the recent debuts of many providers of such office space, other providers will be considering potential locations with a degree of caution. The market, however, is heading in this direction and it looks like the current co-working boom is far from being over, particularly in regional markets,” commented Jarosław Pilch, head of office tenant representation at Savills. “Poland has big potential and is an attractive destination for high-tech businesses. Besides, large international providers such as WeWork, The Office Group and i2 Office have not entered the Polish market yet,” he added.

Not just for start-ups

The distinction between serviced offices and co-working space can get somewhat fuzzy at times, but there are differences in what each of these offer, and who they target. Serviced offices have been present in the Polish market much longer, going back as far as mid-1990s, when the first international companies started to look into establishing their foothold in the Polish market and were in need of modern office space, which was hard to come by back then. However, the look and the array of services they now offer have evolved significantly from the gray-walled corridors with rows of identical unremarkable doors on either side with a common reception area. Now, serviced offices are colorful, meticulously designed and even artsy. They no longer just offer individual rooms, either. They offer fully equipped offices, conference rooms and social areas, often also a shared open space. They have more of a business feel in their design, although fun common social areas are also popular. They target SMEs, scale-ups or late stage start-ups, as well as freelancing professionals (e.g. lawyers), who need proper exposure and all the amenities an office can provide. They are most suitable for companies in their growing stage, but are also frequently used by large corporations waiting for their permanent space to be delivered. “Perhaps it is contrary to the popular stereotype that these offices are made for start-ups, but it is because of this business model that flexible office space has a chance of becoming a permanent fixture on the office property market,” said Pilch. Generally speaking, serviced offices are a much more flexible option than regular leased offices, even if they are somewhat more costly. “The cost of leasing such offices can be two or three times higher than that of a standard three-five year lease. However, tenants have much more flexibility, both in terms of minimum space and lease time,” said Piotr Capiga, senior negotiator at Cushman & Wakefield. To provide even more flexibility, serviced office operators often also provide virtual offices, which basically consist of a  prestigious company address and a telephone and mail service.

 


 

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WBJ talked to Sebastian Rączkowski, managing director  of CitySpace, one of the fastest-growing serviced office providers in Poland

WBJ: How many locations do you have now and how many are you planning on opening?

Sebastian Rączkowski: We are present in four cities, totaling seven locations: three in Warsaw, two in Kraków and one each in Katowice and Wrocław. We plan to open at least two more in 2018 – Kraków and Wrocław and perhaps a third one. We are looking closely at Łódź and Gdańsk. Also, in 2019 we will open two more locations in Warsaw as well.

How much space does each of your
offices cover?

Our standard floor space is roughly about 1,500 sqm. That is usually a full floor or a full floor module, depending on the design. We have traditional serviced offices in our first two locations: Rondo 1 and Plac Unii in Warsaw. All new projects are hybrids with 70 percent open space. Our latest project in Katowice is open space only.

Who is your target group?

For traditional modules our target is small companies or teams which need both exposure and flexibility. We pioneered the all-in concept with a large lounge and break-out areas. In open spaces we count on BPO/SSC sector companies that require instant space for larger teams – 50 people or so. Also, we are located in high office supply areas under construction in regional cities where tenants look for swing spaces accommodating whole companies waiting for their target space to be delivered.

How is CitySpace different from its
ever-increasing competition?

We try to be close to our tenants needs’ so we can facilitate them instantly. In our serviced open space project we used to be alone in the market and we have only recently begun to notice competition as more developers have become interested in working closely with serviced office operators. With our traditional locations we proudly offer our clients the highest quality of furniture, acoustic comfort between offices, top standard conference rooms and lack of our logo (which is something I haven’t seen anywhere else). Also, we now develop digitalization for our tenants, so not only will they be able to have instant access to their bills but also book extra services within a dedicated onestop-shop app on a 24/7 basis.

 

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