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11 Jun 2018

Club Workspace: 'Like any new environment, one must learn its quirks'

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By positioning its co-working spaces under the same roof as its more conventional office lettings, Club Workspace allows startups to step up when business takes off

Why was Club Workspace rather under my radar? Was it the forgettable name? Or the fact that the big personalities from The Office Group and WeWork steal all the PR limelight? Or were its roots in conventional office lettings something to do with it? 

Lack of notoriety aside, it’s a big operator in London. There are 19 Club Workspaces, all housed in bigger Workspace entities, the 30-year-old FTSE250 company that owns and operates 335,000sq m of flexible office space in 67 properties across the capital.

At 34,000sq m, Kennington Park Business Centre, near Oval station, is the biggest site, and doubles as Workspace’s HQ, which bizarrely has a Mini trapped in a wall of fluted glass in one room. 

The co-working-style Club Workspace which opened here in 2013 has space for 99 hotdeskers, 24 open-plan fixed desks, and five private offices. While the six-to-eight-person office rooms are let on six-monthly contracts at £2,500, the fixed desks and hotdeskers (at £350 and £300 respectively) are monthly arrangements. All exclude VAT. So Club Workspace cunningly serves two purposes. 

Firstly, its interiors are intended to add vibrancy to the business centre offer upstairs. At Kennington Park, Generate Studio has exposed the brickwork and ceilings, and installed wooden “tiled” desk tops, pale blue Anglepoise lamps.

And secondly, the Club concept gives the Workspace mothership “a touch point with customers at a much earlier stage, so they grow with us”, says John Robson, Workspace’s head of asset management. Since 2014, 51 Club businesses have moved into office space that’s rented out on a standard lease length of two years, though on average people stay for eight years. That sounds like it makes sense.

And now, Workspace’s first new-build will open in late summer in Shoreditch. The Frames by Squire and Partners will be a 5,575sq m business centre with Club Workspace front of house.

The atmosphere in Kennington’s Club Workspace is what any fleeting visitor to these outfits has come to expect: quietly convivial. And, like any new environment, one must learn its quirks. Despite it being on a big campus, the only place I could find to park a push bike was under a sign warning that these bike racks were for gym members only. 

And despite having to register online in advance, my internet access on the day was not smooth. What’s more, it felt positively evil to be making myself a tea at the shared kitchen area in Public Enemy Number One: a disposable cup. But that is probably just my petty neurosis.

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