Small Business editor of the NZ Herald

Small Business: Sharing spaces - Francesca Blomfield, Generator

Francesca Blomfield is the general manager of Generator, which provides coworking spaces in two Auckland CBD locations.

Shared workspace at Generator.
Shared workspace at Generator.

Can you tell us about Generator?

Generator is a private members' club offering serviced, private and shared office spaces with a central bar and lounge area. It's also used as a venue for meetings and events. We provide a range of services and benefits for businesses, from a professional reception and greeting for their clients, to casual meeting space, to serviced offices. We also want to provide our members with a sense of community and ensure we employ staff that are going to nurture this.

Currently, we have two locations: our original Stanbeth House site and our second, which has just had its first birthday, is in the Northern Steamship building.

Why was it set up?

The global financial crisis saw companies downsizing and trying to use space more efficiently.

Generator's founder, entrepreneur Ryan Wilson, saw an opportunity to provide a workplace for small businesses and those working from home, as well as companies looking for facilities not available from traditional serviced office spaces, so Generator was born,. The idea was to create an environment that allows people to share ideas, provide a sense of belonging and has the infrastructure and support services to allow businesses to focus on what's important.

What sorts of businesses and people cowork in the space?

We have a variety of businesses working in our spaces, from sectors including branding, PR, architecture and landscape design, recruitment and business consultancies. We have seen a trend in IT, software and digital-based companies moving towards the serviced and shared office environment and these make up quite a few of our larger workspace residents.

I think coworking works well for a range of businesses - from small businesses, freelancers and startups, to satellite branches of larger corporations and those visiting from outside the city who need a central base from time to time.

What are some of the pros and cons of coworking? And what about the competitive environment - is that an issue for people coming into the space?

Working in a shared working environment naturally provides small businesses and entrepreneurs the opportunity to rub shoulders with like-minded people. To nurture this we believe networking and social events are an important aspect of what we do.

We filter competitors of our existing members and residents so competition is never an issue. We do, for example, have several recruitment companies based in Generator, however they all specialise in different areas and use each other to their advantage in helping grow their individual businesses.

Coming up in Small Business: Training staff is an ongoing issue for all small businesses with employees. If you've got a story to tell about what's worked well for your business when it comes to staff training, drop me a line.

- NZ Herald

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