Making use of that spare office space

By Sarah Haeckel

An Auckland businessman reckons he has the perfect solution to offices where there's space going to waste. Matt Knight says there's nothing better than sharing.

The idea occurred to him when he noticed how much unused space there was in offices around the city - particularly after businesses downsize but stay in the same premises.

Two years ago he came up with the the concept of a an "alternative workplace movement" and launched a website called Shared Space. People can list their office, retail or carpark space on the website free or pay a bit extra to have their listing promoted. Mr Knight says sharing office space is ideal for businesses needing to become more lucrative and sustainable. They can share resources such as one receptionist, plus entertainment spaces and internet access.

Mr Knight lives by his own mantra. He shares the office space at Loft 503  in Achilles House on Customs St.

"I've fallen in love with the space," he says about the building, which was built in 1905 and is beautifully restored. He wouldn't have been able to afford to rent the space on his own, so he decided to find people to share the office.

He uses his own Shared Space website to advertise "hot desks" at Loft 503 - and has around 20 desks available. Mr Knight pays the lease on the building then subleases to companies that may need a space but can't afford their own. He says it's great for start-ups in particular. At the moment eight different businesses hot-desk in his loft, from a digital agency to an architect and a wine label company.

The 28-year-old, who did a business degree majoring in advertising at AUT, says there's a big call for this. "One advantage is that businesses can utilise their unused space and make a bit of extra money. But the other thing that happens is that like-minded people can work next to each other, even together, and join together for projects."

Mr Knight says the concept is most popular with people in creative industries, who enjoy co-working places because they can significantly profit from the minds on tap.

And the mix is important. Office sharers for his Loft 503 are interviewed to make sure they fit in. "It's a creative space, so there's a bit of music and chatter," he says.

He knows of about five or six co-working spaces in Auckland. "It's a concept that's starting to grow. People see the value in utilising their free space, and using the new workers in their office as resources."

He says there's huge potential in the concept, particularly with technological advances allowing people to work from almost anywhere.

"The concept of co-working is just appropriate for the time. People require more flexibility."

He says he is slowly building up the Shared Space project, and is already getting many calls and enquiries as the idea spreads.

"Shared Space is my main project - it's my baby," he says.

His ultimate goal is to have the name of the website trip off the tongue when people are thinking about office spaces.

"It would be great to just hear people say, or advise people: 'Just have a look on Shared Space'."

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- The Aucklander

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