28/07/2015 - 08:36

Sitting Rooms offers disaster plan

28/07/2015 - 08:36

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Workplace recovery is an emerging niche in Perth’s office market.

Sitting Rooms offers disaster plan
Sitting Rooms managing director Michael McLeod

A  new player is emerging in Perth’s serviced office space, but instead of offering temporary accommodation, Sitting Rooms offers tailored workspaces only in case of ‘disaster’.

The company is taking on established players Liberty Executive Offices and Regus, both of which offer flexible serviced office spaces as well as disaster recovery solutions for companies affected by fire, floods, or other events that may shut down their usual offices.

Sitting Rooms managing director Michael McLeod said business continuity plans were a requirement for government and public-listed entities, but having an alternate workspace was not always a consideration for smaller companies.

“There are a lot of businesses that don’t consider risk plans at all,” Mr McLeod told Business News.

“A lot of businesses under $2 million wouldn’t consider it seriously, I think the first thing they think of is how they back up their data.”

One of Sitting Rooms’ key clients is Keystart Home Loans, the government-owned low-interest home loan provider for low-income earners.

Mr McLeod said Keystart had a business continuity team of 15 people, which Sitting Rooms could accommodate at its Victoria Park office in case of emergency.

“Having them in more than one location is not acceptable, so if their business burned down tomorrow, they need to get those 15 people into one location,” he said.

Mr McLeod said Sitting Rooms would target public-listed firms and government departments that may already have plans in place, offering a more efficient alternative.

“The competition we face in the government sector is departments are sharing space,” he said.

“But we’re finding that’s not always efficient and we’re getting strong inquiries from government departments looking to bolster that with a dedicated site.”

Also competing with Sitting Rooms, in a workspace sense, are employees who work from home.

But Business Continuity Institute director Kenny Seow, who has collaborated with Mr McLeod in setting up Sitting Rooms, said that was not always the best option to keep a business going.

“Although a lot of organisations do have remote working capability, it may well work in a day-to-day non-disaster situation, but in a crisis mode, it’s a different story,” Mr Seow said.

“People make the mistake of assuming it will work in a crisis situation the same as on a day-to-day basis.

“But volumes are different, there are technical issues in terms of connectivity and speed, and there are also operational issues.

“If I’m handling confidential information, there may be regulations or legislation that prevent me from doing that.”

Disasters obviously don’t happen all the time, so to keep Sitting Rooms’ cash flow ticking over, Mr McLeod said he had partnered with online education provider Australis to use the rooms on a day-to-day basis.

“As a business, we looked at it and said ‘how can we generate income?’” Mr McLeod said.

“We knew we had something good, but it’s a long sales cycle and we had to look for other ways of generating income to help our cash flow.”

Australis had not previously had a presence in Western Australia, but since signing a licensing agreement with Sitting Rooms in January, it now has 200 students.

Mr McLeod said Sitting Rooms was also close to finalising an agreement with a local beauty college, which would also bolster its income.

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