Locally owned and operated Co. Habitat Co-Working Space is celebrating five years of providing flexible office solutions to support North Queensland’s emerging entrepreneurs, small businesses, and remote workers.
Since opening their doors on 1 August 2018 in the former Townsville Transit Centre, Co. Habitat Co-Working Space has experienced rapid growth and now boasts 26 offices, 21 hot desks, and a range of meeting rooms, a studio for podcasting and video conferencing rooms.
Owner and Managing Director Joshua Roberts says the idea to open a co-working space was sparked during a lunch time conversation with a manager while working in retail.
“I was already at a crossroad as to what I wanted to do next, and this conversation sparked something in me,” he recalls.
“I started looking into co-working spaces, how they operated, what clients liked and disliked about them, pricing structures and what the future predictions for the industry were.”
Not only was the young business able to weather the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic, but they found themselves well placed to capitalise on the changing work landscape that followed.
“As a young business we had no idea how or if we would survive,” Joshua says.
“To significantly add to the unknown stress of what the Covid pandemic meant for not only our industry but businesses in general, prior to the pandemic being declared, we had begun work on a radical expansion to go from 400m2 to 1550m2. This relocation occurred on 1 July 2020, right at the peak of the first wave of Covid.
“Co-working continues to be a growing market not just in Australia but globally. The idea of working from home no longer appeals to a lot of people in the way it used to, but what this period has shown us is people can successfully work without travelling to a central hub or headquarters.
“Co-working spaces will continue to grow in regional spaces as families move out of the larger cities, and in the cities themselves they will continue to grow as organisations look to have more flexibility than what a traditional lease allows for.”
Joshua is particularly proud of the role in which Co. Habitat plays to enable start-ups the flexibility to increase or decrease their space based on operational demands, with many members successfully moving into their own commercial tenancy. Towards Better, a training consultancy fostering inclusivity for people with disabilities in the workplace and community, will this month move into a leased commercial premises on Charters Towers Road, Hermit Park after working out of Co. Habitat for 20 months.
“Co. Habitat offered just the right amount of space for myself and our small team to meet with people, an array of breakout areas to work from and access to additional hours in their meeting spaces,” says Towards Better Managing Partner, Ricky Esterquest.
“Being a member allowed me to also use the podcasting space and bring that to life for no extra cost.
“As my business grew and I was out of the office more, the flexibility of Co. Habitat allowed me to move to a permanent desk a few days per week, allowing business needs to be met.”
Matthew Kelly, Principal Economist from Regional Economic Advisory (REA) agrees that moving from a home-based business into a private office at Co. Habitat was a key step in his business’ growth.
“The two years at Co. Habitat Co-Working Space allowed us to build our brand presence and book of work as well as bring on initial staff through a CBD office without the risks associated with a long-term lease,” he says.
“All of the overheads were taken care of with one fixed monthly payment and there were regular opportunities to network with a broad range of businesses and stakeholders. As the business grew, we were able to secure permanent office space with confidence.”
While Joshua admits it is bittersweet when members move on to their new premises, the growing demand ensures the vacated space is soon occupied by the next business poised for growth.
Main image: Joshua Roberts, Owner and Managing Director of Co. Habitat Co-Working Space.
Image credits: Supplied.
Read our “5 Minutes With…” interview with Joshua Roberts by clicking here.
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