BizDojo + Gold Coast Co Spaces

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The Gold Coast has long been a mecca for tourists, with its sandy white beaches, laid back lifestyle and a plethora of accommodation options for all budgets - since the late1950s, it had been all the GC needed to survive, prosper and grow.

But since the global financial crisis, recession and unprecedented unemployment (even for the lucky country), life became pretty hard for a city that had to that time solely relied upon its good looks and party hard attitude.

With peak hour services between the Gold Coast and Brisbane grimly labelled the ‘Bombay Express’ by its commuters, you get a pretty good idea of the current status quo. And with the number of people making the 80km journey every day (whether by train, bus or car) growing exponentially over the past five years, the time has come for the Government and local business leaders to take a long hard look at the situation.

The fact is most of the jobs are in Brisbane, but people want to live on the Gold Coast because of the attraction points mentioned above. Residential developments have continued to inch closer to Brisbane, where people can still say they live ‘down on the coast’, but are in fact half way between Surfers Paradise and downtown Brissy.

However on closer inspection and review, there are three significant points that make this the wrong way to work, aside from the obvious public transport issues.

1. Distance – it cripples the Australian economy.

2. Commuting – makes the cities inefficient, reduces liveability, and increases transport costs.

3. Siloed workforce – which impedes collaboration and business innovation.

So now, with these problems identified, action is required. And last month BizDojo partners Nick Shewring and Jonah Merchant were invited to Southport's Co Spaces to give the Dojo perspective on the challenges and opportunities in the nascent area of teleworking.

As a part of Co Spaces Open Week, Nick and Jonah spoke about their learnings from creating New Zealand’s longest-running and leading co-working network, as well as offering their perspective on activation and growth opportunities for Co Spaces and similar ventures in the region.

Off the back of these conversations, BizDojo and Co Spaces are thrilled to announce an official partnership agreement, which will enable our respective residents to work Trans-Tasman when required. Through continued discussions and working together, we’re hoping to not only work together actively, but also enable our residents to set up key business relationships with each other.

Co Spaces founder Ben Howe said his plan to a find global partner who shared a similar business outlook was achieved when he met Nick in March at the Australian Coworking Conference in Melbourne.

“We were both struck with how aligned the vision of our co-working spaces were. This, combined with the obvious strategic link between Queensland and Auckland, made the opportunity to partner really exciting for us.”

While Co Spaces is a relatively new venture, and co-working is yet to really take off in Queensland, Nick and Jonah are confident that such an unique environment could be incredibly valuable for businesses both on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane.

Jonah explains “there really is a great opportunity to find success here. While commuting is a common occurrence for many city workers, the situation for people on the Gold Coast is definitely quite distinctive.”

The commuting issue also affects the region’s economy on a deeper level, because it is taking a huge chunk of the population away from the local amenities and services for a majority of the week. The benefits of teleworking are therefore threefold – creating positive impacts for the employer, employee and local community.

For employers, co-working reduces the need for expensive CBD office space, provides greater access to people and skills, creates an ‘employer of choice’, and positions staff for improved productivity. For employees, it means they can work from ‘anywhere’ and achieve a better work/life balance.

It’s important to note that the concept isn’t about being able to work from home, but at a communal space that is much closer to home. It fosters the sharing of ideas, collaboration, informal training, networking and supports the move towards activity based working (the premise that no employee ‘owns’ or has an assigned work station).

Thankfully, the Queensland state government are right behind the initiative that promotes teleworking for people who live on the Gold Coast but currently commute to Brisbane. The opportunity for co-working and collaborative business hubs for the GC is just too hard to ignore and the benefits are already evident.

But like any new idea, it might take some convincing, coaxing and coercing to really get things buzzing around the co working scene on the Coast. And until then, the BizDojo and Co Spaces will continue to champion what they are doing on a local and international scale.