Flexible space provider Waterman Business Centres is expanding its footprint in shopping malls, with plans to open a facility at the Eastland shopping centre in suburban Melbourne next year.
Eastland, which is owned by QIC’s property arm, will be the fourth hub for Waterman, which already has a facility at the nation’s biggest mall, Chadstone in the city’s south-east.
Its other hubs are close to the Westfield Fountain Gate mall and at the Spooner family’s Caribbean Park business estate.
Major suburban malls are increasingly becoming host to co-working hubs as shopping centres look to diversify their appeal and win more foot traffic.
On the demand side, it is expected the coronavirus disruption and changes in workplace culture could increase interest in suburban-based co-working facilities.
“The shopping centre model has proven to be a success, with pre-COVID-19 occupancy levels sitting at 100 per cent for two consecutive years,” Waterman marketing manager Chris Jbeily said.
“Our annual co-working survey also reported that 82 per cent of our members value easy access to shopping centre amenities such as parking, retail, dining, banking and postal centres.”
Large ASX-listed companies are talking to us and exploring flexible workspace options that are closer to home for their teams.
— Lauren Schwab, Waterman leasing executive
Waterman leasing executive Lauren Schwab was also upbeat on the hub operator’s growth prospects despite the impact of COVID-19 on workplaces.
“What we do know is that companies are rethinking their priorities and are beginning to value flexibility and convenient locations for their employees more than ever,” she said.
“Since COVID-19, we have received new levels of inquiries from larger corporations looking to dismantle their pre-COVID workplace.
“Large ASX-listed companies are talking to us and exploring flexible workspace options that are closer to home for their teams.”
Ms Schwab said the operator had been in discussions with potential users over the possibility of a “work-from-home blend” involving a a split between working out of a Waterman hub and at home.
Waterman is also confident its outer suburban locations will have increased appeal to prospective users by cutting down on commuting time.