Community is Key at SOHO

Get straight down to business at SOHO's close-knit, community-feel workspaces

This interview was published in the Autumn edition 2019 of SiGMA magazine, Issue 9. Read similar articles in the digital edition here.

As Malta continues to flourish as a hub for innovation and business, it is unsurprising that companies have been flocking to the island of late. As they look to put down roots, SOHO office space finds itself in the right place at the right time. The country’s largest co-working network already has more than 200 companies under their belt and now, with a growing work force dominating the scene, they’reupping their game. SiGMA magazine catches up with the co-founder and director Michael Steen Pedersen.

Off to a good start

As Michael explains, the SOHO Office Space originally started because they needed the workspace for themselves. Finding the space a bit too large for the needs of the company they decided to rent out some of the space, spark a community feel, and grow the community. The rest, as they say, is history.

“We filled out the space really quickly, before we knew it we had a full house – we grabbed the opportunity to grow and rebuild, things just took off, and within months the office spaces were fully booked.

“We thought it would be fun and interesting, there are a lot of companies here, and so we found a niche in the market and perfected our knowledge of the companies. We know how they think, what they want, because of course we’ve been there ourselves.

“It’s a plug and play solution; you don’t have to think about anything, you can come in and plug into the SOHO ecosystem, get all your office needs met, introductions to potential business partners, strategic partners, and suppliers, even a social life. Imagine you’ve just landed in a new country, you don’t know anybody, you still have to adapt to the new place. SOHO allows you to get straight down to business without the hassle.”

Growth and success

SOHO co-founders: Michael Steen Pedersen and Kris Jes Petersen.

The next leg of their journey includes their most recent acquisition: five floors in the heart of bustling metropolis, St. Julians. The office space, which they bought on plan is conveniently located next to the Intercontinental Hotel and is estimated to be ready for its inaugural launch in 2021.

As the demand for office space grows they have continued to expand on the flexible solutions they currently offer. As part of their multi-location strategy they opened in the business district of Gzira in May, finding a convenient space at Savoy Gardens and are now fully occupied. In November they set up a business centre in The Strand, bringing 1000 sqr metres of luxury to their clients.

The new set up will include stand-out features such as private office space, a virtual office, a massive event space and meeting rooms for conference calls or client visits, as well as plenty of amenities that increase employee well-being and comfort, such as a sauna, gym, members café or rooftop bar. They’ve also made sure to include plenty of benefits that aim to encourage an all-important social environment, crucial for encouraging creative thinking and productivity.

Their co-working spaces also cater for the different seasons, with big terraces and outdoor areas offering cosy spaces made comfortable with heat lamps and summer chill out zones that offer sun decks and cool, shaded spaces. In 2020 a rooftop swimming pool will complete the picture.

“In an age of increased remote and flexible working opportunities, the benefits of co-working and shared workspaces are clear to see. We’re trying to push the limits of what we believe you need to have.

“We have this super strong community in SOHO St. Julians and now in Savoy Gardens we’re taking everything to the next level, building on international standards to bring a great community of people together and create opportunities for collaboration and networking.”

Community is Key

SOHO office space - St. Julian's.

We also discuss the importance of customer retention. With Malta plagued by high levels of staff turnover, employee happiness is a crucial part of any company’s strategy for a social and professional plan. The close-knit community-feel that SOHO’s shared workspaces bring, offers a diverse atmosphere for employees that is great for businesses focusing on improving retention.

“Community is the key word, the difference between having an office and having an office building is definitely the opportunity for community and networking. We have big offices now as well, so obviously we’re talking about employee happiness and retention – it’s important employees want to be in the office, that the environment is one they want to stay in. You want them to have a good time.”

All good workspaces need to have flow, to have space for collaboration and creativity, to have that feel-good community factor. At SOHO they have managed to find the right balance of all these elements – for any company looking to build their success, SOHO should be their next port of call.

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For those planning to attend SiGMA Manila, AIBC Manila and ICE Asia at SMX on June 8-9th, this is the buzzing business environment to be expected:

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