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Flex Is A Corporate Affair In Manchester's New Economy

The Manchester coworking sector is not what you think it is.

So says one of the pioneers of the city’s apparently thriving flexible workspace sector, who insists that the days when coworking space was the hangout of techy creatives and media types is now long gone. Today, it is all about corporates.

“Dispelling the myth that coworking spaces are largely for media and tech freelancers, large global entities are wanting a Manchester base, which offers flexibility while they grow,” Workplace Director Adrian Stevenson said, at the conclusion of a refurbishment designed to please corporate occupiers. Workplace operates 9K SF at Churchgate House, Oxford Street.

“Coworking gives them the opportunity and kudos to move into a prime location in a premium space with very little financial commitment whilst they test the water. It also means that while they are establishing themselves in the region, their professional employees working remotely are not isolated or unsupported."

The answer, Stevenson said, is coworking in “an executive environment.”

“The recent investment has enabled us to create a space that independent professionals, high level Government executives and those working for global businesses are confident in and proud of,” he said.

Corporates seem to agree. Lonza, the Swiss life science group, is dipping its toes in the Manchester market. It now has 100 staff in the city, and started with Workplace.

“Finding the right coworking space in Manchester was key for us — as a global business it’s imperative we make the right impression in front of clients and overseas directors,” Lonza Human Resources Manager Marrisa Gomez said.
 
German fashion brand Escada agreed.

“We were keen to test the Manchester market and Workplace gave us the ability to begin operating here without a large financial commitment or long term contract," Human Resources Business Partner Jose Gonzales said. "We were able to focus on growing this regional unit, without worrying we’d overcommitted.”

The Workplace refurb comes as Colliers International launch a new flexible workspace division based in Manchester. It will be run by Patrick Kennedy, who moves from OBI.

While the initial focus will be on Greater Manchester, the longer-term strategy is to develop a dedicated flexible workspace team to also cover other major cities including Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol.