Wednesday 26 July 2017

Exclusive: Sneak peek inside the new Iconic Offices - where bespoke luxury meets co-working

Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

From fledgling start-ups to globally recognised multinationals, the benefits of flexible working space are making more and more sense.

What was perhaps initially perceived as a rather 'flash-in-the-pan' phenomenon has become a viable and increasingly popular avenue for running, networking and growing a business.

Founder and CEO of Iconic Offices Joe McGinley was one of the first to recognise a gap in quality workspace for innovative firms in Dublin - and to recognise to the potential of what he could create.

At present, Iconic operates across 16 separate locations in Dublin, with spaces ranging from 1 to 500 desks and prices to meet the varying needs of its members.

Whether you require a private office to greet clients, wish to bring your team off site to an event space, want to book a dedicated desk for several months, or indeed, feel that hot-desking would help get your creative juices flowing - the facilities are there.

SOBO Works on Windmill Lane was the first of the Iconic hubs to offer hot desking to its clients - two years after establishing flexible workplaces – and the passion for collaboration between start-ups and established firms has led to the opening of 'The Brickhouse' at Clanwilliam Court, Dublin 2 in April and the upcoming grand reveal of 'SouthPoint'.

The independent.ie team were invited inside these new digs, a 21,000 sq ft building near Dublin's South Docks, before staff or clients (or even computers or artwork!) to get the real first look at the latest offering from Iconic.

Entrepreneur McGinley was also on site to share what he believes separates Iconic from others in the flexible workplace market - and reveals ambitious plans for growth over the next 12 months and beyond.

Why are firms choosing to co-work at Iconic?

"For individuals or for smaller companies, the value for money is really good. In our most recent open location 'The Brickhouse', for €249 a month you get 24/7, 365 access to unlimited beer, unlimited coffee, a continental breakfast every day and the fastest wifi in town.

"On top of that you get assistance with your business and the ability to progress your business; the community and the workshops and the talks that take place there.

"It offers good value for money as a starting point and that's why people are signing up. That's cemented by the strength of the community; once they get in and actually understand more about co-working, that's what's keeping them there

Do your different hubs target certain members?

"One of our USPs [unique selling proposition] is that we do every building differently; using different designers, different materials and different furniture.

"What we do is that we'll look at a building and its characteristics and it's location. We're looking at the target market who are going to want to be there and we build on that basis. For us, every building we do has a different vibe.

"A lot of people in this space will target a specific sector but with us, we just target innovators. We don't mind if you're a small technology business, developing your own clothing line or a consultant; once you understand that, in order to attract and retain high quality staff, you need a really great place to work.

"And also that you buy into the community and that you want to take from the community but also give to the community." 

But what makes Iconic special?

"What people love at Iconic are the visuals, the pictures of Iconic spaces are totally different to what everyone else is doing in the market when it comes to flexible workspace.

"At the moment, we custom build about 50pc of our fit outs; we've just done a deal with a new furniture manufacturer so about 80pc of our buildings moving forward will be all handmade so that's custom design furniture made and built in Ireland - a unique look and feel from our competitors.

"Secondly, the general vibe within the space is not as typically formal as you would find in a hotel space . So we've well trained staff that provide a five star standard; but it's done in a different and much more informal way.

The design of 'South Point' 

"In this particular building, we've a custom built custom panelled library with over 2,000 vintage books. This room doubles as a whiskey room so we also have a selection of rare whiskies which people can sample. On top of that, we have many phone booths and breakout spaces with custom walls and custom built furniture in them.

"We also have a brand new penthouse level, a glazed box which is being placed on top of the building; this will act as a very large co-working space which is a really unique feature to the building.

"On this project we worked with Kingston Lafferty Design [founded in 2010 by award-winning designer Roisin Lafferty] to establish the overall scheme and to implement it onsite."

How long do members stick around?

"Retention is really high with us; when people are going in, we're not pushing them to take long contracts - we know that once we're delivering day to day that they'll stay on.

"We're finding that the terms are increasing but most people are signing up to six months or one year. On average, they're staying for around two years. We think that's because the product that we're developing is getting better and better as we go.

"In Dublin right now, if you wanted to take your own place, typically what you're looking to is 11-12 years term certain with no break options. For the vast majority of people and their business, they don't know where they're going to be in two years never mind 11 or 12 years .

"For a lot of companies who are in the start-up phase or in scale up mode, it makes sense that they have that element of flexibility by not competing to those types of terms."

What's next for Iconic?

"We're in construction at the moment on probably our largest project to date; it's in excess of 30,000 sq ft just off Grafton St, it's an exciting project with a different look and feel to anything that we've done to date.

"We started with just me four years ago and we're at 35 full-time staff now. We're in a constant state of recruitment and we'd love to hear from anyone who thinks they could add value to the team.

"We expect to be 45 people strong by the end of the year - with plenty of buildings in the pipeline for next year."

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