Hastings HIVE is a new large-scale co-working space, attracting a diverse range of customers from startups and large corporate branches to not-for-profit organisations.
The Hastings HIVE is situated in the heart of Hastings’ central business district.
The city serves the wider agricultural, horticultural, viticulture and food processing industries and was 2020 winner of NZ’s “most beautiful large town” award.
Hastings is also home to many of the service businesses that support industry and government in the region and, according to HIVE owner Rob Gill, is also a great place for startups with “excellent multi-agency support” in place from government agencies and the local Hawke’s Bay Councils.
Prior to 2020, most existing shared spaces in the Hawke’s Bay were an eclectic mix of small format spaces, in mainly older art deco style buildings, averaging less than 500 sqm.
With the HIVE, Gill says he and co-owner wife Jenny, saw an opportunity for a large-scale shared space, providing for co-working desks and private serviced offices in a corporate styled environment.
Shared spaces are based on the co-working concept pioneered in San Francisco in the early 2000s, which spread rapidly to international trading centres like London, New York and Toronto.
The Gills envisaged world-class facilities at Hastings HIVE, with a floor-plan close to 1,200 sqm, large even by international standards, and very large for regional New Zealand.
Following careers in corporate IT&T and systems analysis and programming, having owned their own businesses, and having supported numerous other businesses and not-for-profits, the duo are no stranger to the ups and downs of business.
They are therefore philosophical about their experience in opening the HIVE on what turned out to be the cusp of New Zealand’s first COVID-19 lockdown.
“We opened our doors for residents in February 2020,” Rob explains.
“By the end of March we were close to 10% full, but by July we were practically empty thanks to COVID-19. Not great timing for a new venture. A year later though, we are closing on 50% full and have just kicked-off our stage 2 fit-out which will add seven smaller format offices from four to seven desks and a new video conference suite.”
Gill adopts a classically entrepreneurial outlook for the future, pointing out that, “the shared working space movement really took off following the 2008 GFC. So we are expecting things to accelerate again as we shake off any viral effects, and have the HIVE humming.”
Planning for the future, Hastings HIVE has been purpose built to promote modern agile practices and remote working, with adaptable spaces, intelligent use shelf space and the latest digital technologies mixed in with some clever analogue design features, like over-sized glass whiteboards and wrap-around pin-walls.
The Gills say that one of their chief aims was to challenge the paradigm of office leasing – the idea that smaller organisations can’t afford new, architect created workspaces.
HIVE residents enjoy the benefits of corporate styled offices with facilities like a relaxed ‘Karamu lounge’ and vibrant cafe area for break-out meetings and socialising.
“Being a small business shouldn’t mean your staff can’t enjoy great design. Boring, tired offices simply won’t attract and a retain a millennial work force.”
The pair are also cognisant of a painful business lesson they learnt the hard way.
“Previously we owned a small nationwide networking business locked into a 10-year compounding office lease after the 2008 global financial crisis,” Rob relates.
“This made it tough to sell our business, as potential suitors were put off by this heavy ‘millstone’. This experience showed us just how critical flexibility (and avoiding large fixed costs) is to small business, something underlined for many tenants in the recent lockdowns.”
As for infrastructure the HIVE invested heavily in critical amenities like super-fast dual fibre connectivity with two internet service providers for resiliency, hi-tech meeting rooms and boardrooms with the latest digital displays and purpose built Logitech conferencing gear for Zoom and Teams meets.
A dedicated video conference suite is also being commissioned.
Bike sheds with e-bike charging points offer residents greener, healthier and realistic commute options, with over 200 km of bike trails in the largely flat Hawke’s Bay. Spa-quality bathrooms and showers help incorporate exercise into busy schedules.
When it comes to their office space, Rob and Jenny say residents enjoy big economies of scale, estimating around 50% saving in total occupancy costs when compared with standard office leasing.
Residents choose from a range of flexible workspaces to suit different business stages and budgets, starting from a single dedicated coworking desk at $330+gst per month or premium coworking desks with sit/stand options and extra space at $395+gst per month, to serviced offices, from 4 to 18 people at $330+gst per desk, per month.
“We wanted to achieve that ‘next level’ stylish fit-out with a wow factor for customers to enjoy, incorporating beautiful architect designed spaces. But we also wanted to achieve the lowest price point for dedicated work spaces, to make offices affordable for startup business. So we priced our workstations at $11.00 per day, the equivalent of those two flat whites you might drink whilst using the Wifi in a high street cafe” says Rob.
“But since espresso coffee is free in our cafe area, if customers get their caffeine fix in Hastings HIVE, their office is effectively free.”