Covid 19 Response: Creating safe workspaces and events  

Published on 19 July 2022 by NZ Herald

Advice from Generator's GM John Moffett for Kiwi companies wanting to support their staff into coming back to the office.

Offices need to offer what people can't get working at home.

Full time staff at an increasing number of Kiwi companies are coming to work only two or three days a week, according to a flexible workspace provider.

John Moffett, General Manager of Generator, says the impact of Covid-19 and other changes means companies now "have to earn their employees' commute to work.

"People don't really want to come into the office all the time anymore," he says. "So (employers) need to make it something they want to get up for, to shower, and to sit in a car or the bus in something other than comfortable trackies.

"The office needs to offer them things they can't get at home - professional IT equipment, the ability to connect and collaborate with others, and a space they are proud to show clients.

"If you aren't going to the office every day it becomes more of an experience when you do, so the hospitality and retail that are nearby are all important".

He says the last 10 years have seen massive growth in the demand for flexible office space.

Founded in Auckland 11 years ago by Ryan Wilson, Generator is now owned by NZX-listed Precinct Properties. It has gone from one and a half floors and fewer than 30 members (office lessees), to four sites in Auckland and Wellington with 22,000sqm of space for more than 1700 people from 250 companies.

A further site is soon to open in Wellington while an additional 1300 companies use Generator for event and one-off meeting rooms.

Moffett says many businesses moving to a hybrid model now only have a full-time staff in twice a week, with smaller numbers occupying desks the rest of the time. A lot, therefore, look for flexible spaces that can handle overflow and large occasional meetings, with the ability to flex down if necessary.

Some businesses in traditional leases think moving to a hybrid model and consolidating office space is a good way of reducing overheads.

"But this can come unstuck," he says. "What if all the team want to be in on the same day, does the office have enough desks and meeting rooms? Because if the team is in, they want to connect in person.

"That's where flexible space has proven to be an attractive option. You get all the additional amenities that can be tricky to find in smaller offices such as location, meeting rooms, large board rooms, and overflow desks when you need them, and end of trip facilities like showers as well as lounge and breakout space without committing to a large space that sits empty half the time."

Moffett says flexible office space isn't just for small businesses, Generator has long been popular with global tech and enterprise companies and he is now seeing a growing trend toward larger New Zealand corporates adding flex space into their offices.

"As organisations look to navigate business post-Covid, flexible workspace can offer necessary space and amenities without the capital expenditure and lengthy lease terms of a traditional office - ideal for project teams or research and development."

Moffett says as an example Ernst & Young (EY) has taken a number of desks in Generator's new Wellington development as an extension of their space within the building.

Generator opened its first Wellington site last year and will be opening the second at Bowen Campus in the city's government precinct near Parliament later this year. Demand for high quality office space in the city is high and Moffett says Generator is operating at 94 per cent occupancy.

"Our Waring Taylor site has really set the standard for flexible workspace in the capital. There was just nothing like it in the market and Wellingtonians have really responded, as well as many Aucklanders who are using it as their Wellington base."

This story featured on NZ Herald.