Since launching the Cedric Fuchs Scholarship in 2013, our employees have developed innovative ideas and products that build innovation, collaboration and diversity of thinking at Charter Hall. The scholarship provides our people with the opportunity to create, plan and bring to life their own project within the business, not only for the betterment and success of Charter Hall and our customers, but for their own personal and professional development.
FY18, the scholarship was awarded to employees in our Industrial team, who created the FlexiSpaces concept to address our tenants’ increasing need for space that could ‘flex’ with their shifting workforce and operational needs. After speaking with tenants, we found that many of their businesses require more (or less) space according to fluctuations in their workload or workforce. Through our interviews with our customers such as Australia Post, we identified the need for extra space for parcel storage leading into Christmas and other key times of year.
Customer feedback also identified that other customers had under–utilised spaces that they would be prepared to share with others, as long as the terms were flexible, there was an opportunity for financial return, and it worked within their lease arrangements.
The FlexiSpaces team recognised that the best way to identify and share space opportunities was through technology platforms, so FlexiSpaces became an online platform where businesses can list and find available space as needed.
The key difference between FlexiSpaces and a traditional sublet is that it allows customers to respond much more quickly to meet their need for more or less space. For some, it provides a simple way to get extra warehouse space when needed; for others it presents a chance to make money from desks that would otherwise be sitting empty.
Another key differentiator is that the platform is open only to those within the Charter Hall tenant network. This enables our tenants to continue to meet their leasing requirements and for Charter Hall to open new avenues to connect customers across sectors. This is beneficial for our business as well as theirs–for example, an industrial customer in WA may be seeking short–term office space in NSW, which they can now find easily through the platform.
While the FlexiSpaces concept was originally focused on industrial customers, we quickly realised FlexiSpaces had broader applications across our other commercial sectors, particularly our office sector, which is in the midst of great disruption due to the rise of co–working and flexible working providers.
After being named the Cedric Fuchs Scholarship winner, the FlexiSpaces concept was further developed over the 13–week Charter Hall PropTech Accelerator program, which gave the Charter Hall team an opportunity to thoroughly test and refine the proposition and spend time with other start–ups to learn how they think, act and do things differently to corporates.
By June 2018, the FlexiSpaces platform was live, allowing us to demonstrate the product in a testing environment. The platform also demonstrates how we are continuing to create more options to meet customer needs and delineate Charter Hall as a landlord of choice.
Upon completion of the initial testing the platform and its application will be reviewed.