The Third Space: Mirvac’s Co-Working Hub in Broadway Shopping Centre

Ever feel like you want to get out of the house to do some work, but dread the idea of having to commute to the office?

That’s where The Third Space comes in. The co-working hub provides a ‘third space’ between the home and the office that caters to the rising mobile worker trend.

The hub is a 100sqm open-plan workspace located in the heart of Broadway Shopping Centre. It was created as part of Mirvac’s innovation program, Hatch, which after many hours of research discovered that the modern mobile worker wants the features of a modern office in an environment where they have retail at their fingertips.

We finally got around to checking this bad boy out, and this is what we think.

 

THE STRENGTHS

Amenities: Let’s dive straight in and talk about everything that you get while using the space. First of all, you have your very own concierge to assist you with any information or services you need. The concierge was friendly & helpful (and overall awesome) when we were there and was always around, which is great to see because it gives you piece of mind that nobody can just whiz on by to take your spot (or your stuff!). You also have access to free Wi-Fi (albeit slow at times), parking and water bottles. Computer screens, whiteboards, basic stationery items, a bookable meeting room with TV, iPhone/Android accessories, charging stations, storage, food & beverage pre-ordering/delivery and even retailer discounts are also made available to you. Best of all, as part of the trial of this initiative, there is currently no cost to work from this space! We would imagine if this concept moved to a more permanent business model the space would turn into a more permanent setup, and capture more of the opportunities we will highlight later on.

Flexibility: The great part about The Third Space is that there’s no lock-in contract. You can book for any period of time between 8:30am-5:30pm, Monday to Friday. Whether you want to come in once, twice, or even five times a week, that’s your call. If you don’t feel like coming in to use the space, you don’t have to book it- it’s as simple as that. There’s also quite a lot of flexibility on offer when it comes to working arrangements. Whether you want a casual discussion area, a quiet work station or a private booth for making calls, it’s all there. 

Location: It really doesn’t get much more central than the middle of Broadway Shopping Centre. As soon as you leave the secluded office space, you’re only a short walk away from all things dining, leisure, fashion and entertainment. In other words, you’re only minutes away from an immediate dose of retail therapy. Even if retail therapy isn’t what you fancy, the major benefit is that you aren’t confined to a traditional office setting. If at any point you want to step away from your computer to walk around for a break or for some inspiration or to run a few errands, you can do just that! What was great about working there was knowing that we weren’t trapped to a single desk or floor of a building. It made it a lot easier to clear our heads and maintain focus.

Setup: The Third Space is suitable for a whole range of people. Although the space may not be suitable for larger teams, it’s brilliant for any startups, freelancers, entrepreneurs, consultants or small businesses. Even if you don’t have a business and just want to take your work or study out of your normal setting, the space is there for you.

 

THE OPPORTUNITIES

Shopping Centre Facilities: One disadvantage of co-working in a shopping centre is having to use the shared public bathroom. Now while this may seem nit-picky to some, it’s still an adjustment for people who are used to co-working spaces and/or office spaces where each floor has their own bathroom facilities. While the public bathrooms in the centre are regularly maintained, you still run the chance of having to stand around in long queues, especially around lunch time or during school holiday periods. Another feature some people may miss is kitchen facilities. We’re not talking about anything fancy like a stovetop or minibar- we’re talking about things like not having a microwave, fridge, or water-refill station. Again, these may seem small and somewhat trivial, but it’s these little things that make all the difference for someone who uses the space on a regular basis. Perhaps they could create an area nearby exclusively for people using the co-working space where some of these kitchen facilities are available.

Atmosphere: While it’s great to have the world of retail at your fingertips, the flipside of the coin is that the space can become noisy relatively quickly- not just from other people chatting, but also because of the shopping centre music playing in the background. We can imagine this may worsen as it gets closer to December and the same Christmas carols start to infiltrate every single playlist, but that’s a problem for another day. With that aside, the good thing is that this problem is easy to solve with a pair of headphones (preferably noise cancelling), and you’re on your way. If the space expands in future, a possible solution could be introducing more private/silent booths if there is enough demand for them.

Size: It’s early days so the space is still quite small, meaning you need to get in quick if you want to book a particular room/ room arrangement. The tables aren’t particularly spacious either, so it wouldn’t work too well if you have a lot of work/gear to bring with you. There is a larger table within the space, however this is shared by multiple people, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea. They could solve this workspace problem by gradually introducing slightly larger tables that can still fit within the confines of the space, or alternatively if the hub expands, more work pods can then be added to cater for more people.

Networking: While The Third Space has a lot of interesting people moving through the space, there is currently no way to harness the power of these networks and people. They currently offer a pin board for people to place their business cards but I’m sure a more permanent setup beyond this trial would encompass creating a localised social network style community where these businesses can connect.

 

While The Third Space trial has only been operating for the past 4/5 months, it has kicked off with a bang, often being close to capacity. Despite some of its opportunities, the space (even as just a trial setup) is disrupting the norms of the traditional retail space and reimagining the way that shopping centres can be used as an experience for both work and play. As avid attendees of many different co-working spaces, we’re keen to see how Mirvac develops and advances this concept beyond a trial in the future. It’s easy to say we love the space and the thought of what it could become in the future.  While we don’t explore it in this article, it is interesting to reflect on the impact this type of space has on customer experience, visitation, dwell time and spend… and let’s not forget the rent PSM and non-rent income lines. We also wonder if any other landlords will have the courage to give this a try and build on the success of The Third Space? We’ll be eagerly awaiting to see if they do.