One of the major trends to emerge in the commercial property industry in recent years has been the rapid growth in the popularity of co-working.
Companies such as TOG, WeWork and Second Home have boomed as businesses realise the benefits of being part of something bigger and having the opportunity to network, collaborate and share ideas with others.
Co-working is not for everyone and larger firms generally still want a space of their own, but elements of co-working have filtered through to the rest of the commercial property sector. In our building in the City, 200 Aldersgate, we have a 6,000 sq ft business lounge and café that provide tenants with a change of scene and a less formal setting in which to meet, work and mingle; and at The Colmore Building in Birmingham, we have added communal facilities including a coffee house and gym and regularly run inter-tenant events and created a tenant website, all of which have helped foster a sense of community.
But it is not just through the buildings it creates that the property industry is embracing collaboration and realising that combining experience, skills and expertise can add value.
Property has always been - and always will be - a people business, but the industry is arguably more collaborative than ever before. This may also be due to the innovative ways in which property is financed. Financiers with real market knowledge and development experience bring additional expertise to projects that traditional financial institutions rarely could.
Developers have often experienced frustration working with larger, institutional funders that do not share their vision, creativity and nimbleness. Those that are adaptable and agile and understand the market, however, can make ‘perfect partners’.
The age-old adage that when two partners always agree one of them is superfluous does still apply, though: development is a creative process and challenging one another, suggesting new and different ideas and combining complementary expertise can ultimately lead to a better building.
At AshbyCapital, we are committed to working with the best. Our partners have included Helical, U+I, Quadrant, Aviva and Exemplar, with which we collaborated on The Avenue, our recently completed office and retail building close to Tottenham Court Road station.
Our shared values in terms of quality shine through at this new building, where we have already secured a pre-let to Skyscanner.
From the artwork in the façade, which reflects the area’s heritage, through to the lobby, with its patinated bronze and polished concrete finishes, to the clear, open, light-filled floorplates and contemporary WCs and changing rooms with high-quality fixtures and fittings, the level of creativity and attention to detail in this building are a result of close collaboration. We learn from our partners and we like to think our partners learn from us too.
We also understand the importance of collaboration with tenants.
At The Colmore Building and 200 Aldersgate, we carry out regular tenant surveys so that we can adjust the services we offer to suit those working in the building.
And at Morfa Shopping Park in Swansea, we work to introduce services that support the retail experience to increase the attractiveness and convenience of the destination for shoppers.
As avid watchers of Dragons’ Den will know, investment is not always just about the money; experience, expertise and shared vision are key factors too. At a time of relative uncertainty, the human side of the property business is fundamental. A growing focus on teamwork and collaboration will enable us as an industry to innovate and raise the bar, helping the UK’s commercial property market to continue to attract occupiers and investors from around the world.