Sunday 16 December 2018

The office of the future has arrived

An artist’s impression of WeWork’s first Dublin offices at Iveagh Court,
An artist’s impression of WeWork’s first Dublin offices at Iveagh Court,

Ronald Quinlan, Commercial Property Editor

It's office space, but not as most of us know it. Not yet anyway.

While many employers might baulk at the idea of letting staff bring their Golden Labradors to work, or having the proverbial 'pint of plain' in the office at lunchtime, there's little doubt that flexible work spaces on flexible lease terms will play a bigger role in serving the needs of companies in the future as the nature of how we work and who we work for continues to evolve.

As our pictures of WeWork's first Dublin location at Iveagh Court on Harcourt Road show, flexible work space can be quite an attractive proposition.

Extending to 5,109 sq m (55,000 sq ft), WeWork's four floors at the McGarrell Reilly-developed property have the capacity to accommodate in the region of 1,000 workers, or 'members' as WeWork refers to its tenants and those employed by them.

WeWork offices due to open in Iveagh Court, Dublin
WeWork offices due to open in Iveagh Court, Dublin

Iveagh Court had served as an overflow facility for the Central Bank in the period leading up to its move to its new headquarters at North Wall Quay in the IFSC.

Speaking to this newspaper's sister title, the Irish Independent, following his company's announcement last November of its intention to take up space at Iveagh Court, WeWork's managing director for Europe and Israel, Eugen Miropolski, said the company had been looking at locating in Dublin for some time.

He said: "What's interesting is that we talk a lot to our members [around the world] and we ask 'what is it that you need? How we can we strengthen your businesses?'

"A lot of our members ask us not only in London, but also in Berlin and Amsterdam, when we would open our first location in Dublin.

"So that's why Dublin was a very natural step."

In choosing to locate in the capital, Miropolski said WeWork was acknowledging the city's tech credentials and community of startups and established companies.

An artist’s impression of WeWork’s first Dublin offices at Iveagh Court, where a worker has his pet dog with him
An artist’s impression of WeWork’s first Dublin offices at Iveagh Court, where a worker has his pet dog with him

"Beyond best-in-class buildings, staffed by local teams providing support, networking opportunities and events, we know our members value access to wider networking and business opportunities, as well as excellent locations and transport connections," Miropolski said.

Located next to Dublin's famous Iveagh Gardens in the city centre, Iveagh Court is the 40th WeWork location to be announced in Europe.

Founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in New York in 2010, WeWork already has 23 open locations comprising 25,000 members across Europe.

All told, the company currently has 170 physical locations across 18 countries and 56 cities around the world,

It provides its members with what it describes as "the community and services to create their life's work through both physical and digital offerings".

While WeWork also agreed rental terms last year on two buildings at Irish Life's newly-redevloped and renamed 1GQ office complex on George's Quay in Dublin 2, more recently the Sunday Business Post reported that the company is in advanced talks to rent some or most of the former Central Bank building in Temple Bar.

Extending to 134,000 sq ft, the property now known as Central Plaza is in the process of being redeveloped by the Irish subsidiary of US-headquartered real estate firm Hines and the Hong Kong-based Peterson Group at a cost of approximately €100m, on top of the €67m they paid to acquire it.

Apart from its interest in locating at Central Plaza, WeWork is understood to be exploring other opportunities in Dublin city centre.

The company's prospects here would appear to have been bolstered by the UK's decision to leave the EU.

Indeed, in a recent report, Savills Ireland noted that the demand for serviced and flexible office space had risen sharply since the Brexit referendum in June 2016. CBRE meanwhile referred specifically to WeWork's decision to sign its first leases in Dublin in its Outlook 2018 annual report, saying it expected the move to trigger an increase in demand for flexible office accommodation in the capital.

All told, nearly 5pc of Dublin's office take-up last year was accounted for by flexible and co-working tenants, CBRE reported.

Sunday Independent

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