TaskPod aims to change the way that Australians work while on-the-go, with the start-up providing quiet, private and flexible working spaces in recreational and retail spaces, transport hubs and other locations across the country. The modular, orange and white office pods can be booked in 15-minute increments for $15 an hour, and contain a range of features – including private and secure Wi-fi, charging and power points and, in some cases, a table with seating for up to four people. Task
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TaskPods have been rolled out in World Square and Pitt St Mall in Sydney and airports in Adelaide and Perth, with eight more to be introduced over the coming months – a number of which will be at Westfield shopping centres in New South Wales. Bookings are also available via a subscription model, with organisations such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Royal Automobile Association utilising this service. Started by former KPMG colleagues Tyson Gundersen and Adam Morgan, the pair identified the need for additional and flexible meeting spaces, as colleagues were ducking into hallways for meetings, and taking private calls in open-plan areas. They initially started the office solutions company, Bureau Booths, which provides soundproof office booths to existing office spaces. However, they realised that people desired spaces to work while away from the office. This need intensified as the nature of work shifted following the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 2.5 million Australians working from home, according to the last Census survey. Morgan told Inside Retail that quiet and flexible working spaces – equipped with video-conferencing technology – didn’t really exist away from the office. This was particularly in populated spaces such as shopping centres and airports. “If you’re trying to pitch to investors, or go through a diligence report with a client, [working in public] is obviously unprofessional. In terms of privacy and confidentiality, it’s just a no-go. So we worked on creating the stepping stones to enable [a more] flexible work-life balance,” he said. With TaskPod, Morgan explains that users can attend meetings or work privately amid day-to-day events such as going to the gym, dropping kids off at daycare, or attending a doctor’s appointment. “We have the structures built for modular office rooms for the Bureau Booths business,” he said. “We’re now putting them in retail shopping centres, airports, commercial building lobbies and next to gyms, and are building a platform that allows people to [work in] these spaces,” he said. “We’ve had great reception so far with retailers [and] big players across sites in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Another, value-added service For users, booking a TaskPod is similar to using Uber or Airbnb The business uses a map-based app platform, where clients can see the network of TaskPods, and make a booking based on their location. They can then make future bookings, which are integrated in their digital calendar. According to Morgan, upwards of 1500 members have signed up to the app. He says the platform is building a strong and loyal customer base, and has started to attract private subscribers – a relatively new feature. He explains that the hybrid working model has been the fuel to get the business going. As people return to the office, Morgan believes that customers will continue using TaskPods while they move around the CBD, and other busy areas. He adds that the business is piloting and expanding a side-business model, which is creating spillover spaces for corporate buildings. “If businesses take on a smaller office space to reduce their overheads, they’re not going to have as much functionality in terms of meeting rooms and quiet places to go to,” he said. “By offering spill-over spaces in corporate building lobbies, it will provide [another] value-added service for commercial property owners.” Avoiding sensory overload TaskPod aims to use at least 50 per cent recyclable materials for each booth, with a target of using 100 per cent recyclable materials by 2025. Morgan explains that the capacity to change and move the pods as required – rather than knock them down if office requirements change – is part of the brand’s sustainability appeal. Further, he says that the brand is looking to work with relevant organisations to provide accessible working space. The start-up is looking to partner with reputable service providers like the NDIS to provide working spaces that can be adjusted to avoid sensory overload. It is also considering partnering with libraries or community spaces to provide free space to people in low socio-economic brackets, who otherwise wouldn’t have access to a private environment where they can work, or conduct professional video-calls. “We’re looking at pushing into a lot of these avenues, but as we’re getting the first few units out there,” Morgan said. “We haven’t been able to activate them yet.” Proof of concept, then expansion While there are some examples of similar concepts overseas – such as Switch in Singapore, which provides on-demand workspaces – Morgan said they are operating at a smaller scale compared to what TaskPod is trying to achieve. Morgan adds that the brand is looking to provide proof of concept with 30 or so units across Australia, and then planning to expand the model internationally – in particular, across the UK and US. “Basically, we’re wanting to [proof it out] and take that blueprint overseas,” he said.