08/03/2016 - 13:54

Bubdesk a flexible work space

08/03/2016 - 13:54

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Perth’s first co-working space with a childcare facility has added a new dimension to workplace flexibility in the city.

Bubdesk community director Asha Stabback at the co-working space's creche. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Perth’s first co-working space with a childcare facility has added a new dimension to workplace flexibility in the city.

Founder Meg Burrage and community director Asha Stabback self-funded the Northbridge business, Bubdesk, which opened in February, with an additional $10,000 coming from a crowdfunding campaign. 

It offers co-working spaces for 60 members, three office tenants and a crèche for 15 children aged three months to four years old.

Bubdesk has attracted two office tenants so far and 13 members, exceeding early growth targets according to Ms Burrage, who works for a multinational resources company and came up with the idea for the business after having her own child last year.

Ms Burrage said while her employer offered flexible work practices when she tried working from home, she found it difficult to be productive because of distractions and feeling isolated.

“I wanted to return to work full time, but I also wanted to remain close to my child,” she said.

“And even if I'd wanted to send him to daycare they were all full. A shared workspace with childcare on site was the solution for me - a supportive environment that offered the best of both worlds.”

Last year’s landmark Committee for Perth’s study into what obstacles Perth women face while trying to progress their careers found there was a ‘perfect storm’ limiting access to childcare in Perth compared with other states.

The report, called ‘Filling the Pool’, found more women in WA have partners who travel for work, and have fewer family members who can act as a support network than elsewhere in Australia.

There are also fewer childcare places per capita in WA compared with other states, the report found.

Ms Stabback said it was clear there was demand for a place where anyone, and women and mums in particular, could work and draw inspiration from others on how to juggle a family life and career.

“We’re truly looking to socially innovate the space and help them to grow themselves as well as their business and make those connections,” she said.

“We want to help mentor women in a collaborative way. We want to have start up evenings and use all of our diverse experiences and strengths to test out their ideas, to help them refine them and look at what’s their driving purpose.

“We want to be that growth accelerator.”

Bubdesk currently takes up 320 square metres of space in a Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority building, where it sub-leases two floors from National Disability Services WA.

Ms Burrage and Ms Stabback already have plans to open further locations in Fremantle and Joondalup, possibly in partnership with other companies.

Ms Stabback said she hoped Bubdesk could grow to offer childcare, networking and business advice sessions on site at organisations that wanted to improve their own family-friendly initiatives.

“The most creative and innovative time for women is reportedly straight after they have a child. It’s such a big life-changing experience and can spark that creativity,” she said.

“I’d love to see us be that space where they know their child’s being taken care of, that they’re close by so they don’t have that weight or stress, they’re away from home, and they’re in a really funky space.”

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