It’s looking more brainwave than brain fart….
Ok, I’m getting excited. Not only is this a feasible option for sharing my office space, I now believe it is a viable business concept in its own right!
Today I have spoken to a property lawyer, 3 commercial property landlords/investors and a fellow SME CEO. The feedback has been ridiculous.
I fully expected them to shoot down the office-timeshare idea. In fact, I specifically asked them to tell me why they thought it was a shit idea and why it wouldn’t work.
The lawyer said he thought it was a great idea and saw no legal reason why it couldn’t be done. It would require a new type of occupancy agreement, but he would be confident of helping me to create one. He also said that the big test is whether a landlord would allow such a change.
The 3 commercial property landlords/investors all categorically said they would allow existing tenants to adopt such a model. They would see it as a good way of de-risking existing tenancies. They also said that it could be a viable business concept, believing that landlords themselves could become the key customers in the future as it could allow them to offer a new solution to compete with the likes of WeWork and serviced offices.
Then finally, I spoke to my fellow SME CEO. We both run recruitment businesses. I told him I thought I was focusing on dreaming up this new concept as a way of coping with the stress of lockdown. I needed him to tell me to drop it and get on with the day job. After I explained the idea, he asked me to define what hypotheses the business concept needed to be built around. We worked out the two main ones:
The majority of office workers now want a blend of office and home working
Two businesses will agree to share the same office space on different days.
If I could prove both hypotheses, then this was a viable business idea. The first one was simple to prove via surveys. But what about the second one…
I asked him about his business and whether he would consider moving into another business’ office if his lease was coming to an end. He said his lease was coming to an end in October and he had a 30-35 person workforce in London. I said they’d fit into my office. He said he thought his workforce would have a preference for 2 days in the office. I said I thought my workforce had a preference for 3 days.
By the end of the call, he recognised he could save well over £100,000 per annum by adopting the model and he’d be interested in discussing my office space further. It felt like we’d already gone a long way towards proving the 2nd hypothesis and I might have found an office timesharing partner for my office – THE FIRST PERSON I TALKED TO.
We both agreed to push forward with surveying our staff on their office/home working preferences.