Every now and then, a product or service comes along and you think: ‘How did we ever do without it?’
BubDesk is one such service.
Simply put – and borrowing from their tagline – it’s a co-working space with a crèche. You check in your offspring (three months to four years old) into the crèche on Level 2, then head down to Level 1 and get some seriously focused working time in their co-working area.
BubDesk is the brainchild of Meg Burrage.
In August 2015, Meg was looking down the barrel of returning to work at an oil & gas company after having Ollie. The stress of trying to juggle work and childcare was mounting, and she found herself wondering: ‘Why we can’t just take our kids to work?’
After a month of Googling options for working with kids (there are very few) and following a train of thought from ‘Why don’t I open a café with a crèche?’ to ‘How about a workshop space with a crèche?’, she finally landed on ‘What we really need is a co-working space with a crèche!’
The market agrees. BubDesk opened its doors in mid-February, a mere six months after Meg started thinking about it.
This is a phenomenal achievement.
In those six months and in no particular order, Meg had to find a location, sign a lease, bring on board a business partner (Community Director Asha Stabback), refurbish Level 2 as a crèche, bring on board a professional childcare service (AJ Nannies, headed by Amy Evans), get the co-working space kitted out, get the desk/meeting room/crèche booking system up and running, get some great media exposure, execute a crowd-funding campaign – twice – and actually get some bums on seats.
Admittedly, she called in favours from friends and loved ones to get it all done, but Meg is a fast mover, and she’s back at work four days a week for the oil & gas company too.
The Working Space
Taking up the first floor of the Old Perth Flour Mill on Lindsay Street in Northbridge, the co-working space is well equipped and designed to minimize distractions.
There are 16 open-plan co-working stations, a couple of private desks and a small break-out area for relaxing or chatting when needed. The boardroom comfortably holds eight to 10 people and is blessedly soundproof. The kitchen contains all the essentials, including a Nutri-Bullet for those wanting their lunch in liquid form.
The co-working desks - clutter and distraction free
The breakout area, ably demonstrated by Meg's husband after a long flight
One of the private offices
On the second floor, accessible only by lift with an assigned token during crèche hours, Meg has opened up the space to create a wonderful area for the wee ones. There’s play equipment, murals, a reading corner, an enclosed sleeping room with three cots and a feeding chair, and endless activities facilitated by the fabulous nannies.
My kids enjoying the ball pit
It’s clean, safe and very welcoming. My two children, a three-year old girl and an eight-month old son, both seem very happy there. My daughter refers to it as ‘school’ and can’t wait to go. She’s never been in the care of anyone but family members before, so this is a real relief for yours truly.
My kids (again) doing what they do best - eat and play
There’s also a comfy couch area for the co-workers to use for breastfeeding and casual chats.
BubDesk has only been open for two months but already Meg and Asha have big plans for the Lindsay Street premises and for two additional locations in Perth. Expanding interstate isn’t beyond their sights either.
First on the agenda is making Lindsay Street hum, including:
keeping the crèche open over lunch (it’s currently closed from 12 to 1),
building up to opening the crèche five days a week (it’s currently Monday to Wednesday, with Thursday being added in early June),
creating soundproof break-out rooms for phone calls requiring privacy on Level 1, and
they’ve recently swapped weekly yoga for weekly massages (I’m rather thrilled).
They’re also looking at three possible satellite locations – Perth city, Fremantle and Joondalup.
Meg and Asha celebrating two months since BubDesk opened its doors... and Meg's birthday
Who should consider BubDesk?
Anyone who needs office space outside of their home but doesn’t want to fund the considerable overheads of an exclusive office themselves should consider BubDesk.
The co-working area is conducive to productivity and it has particular advantages for people who:
have children who are not yet at school (mums and dads alike),
market to parents of young children, especially women, or
want a meeting space (the boardroom) with childcare available for those they want to invite.
There are a variety of options for those wanting to join, including:
casual desk hire
community membership (no allocated co-working space time) $60 plus GST per month
one day a week allocated desk space $300 plus GST per month
All the memberships come with a host of benefits, such as pricing discounts on meeting rooms and access to networking and education events.
This is wonderful news for those with their own businesses, but I think those who stand to benefit most from this arrangement are companies that have any concerns about their return-to-work rates following parenting leave.
As someone who chose not to return to their corporate job because I didn’t want to put my children into daycare: if BubDesk had been an option, I might have stuck around.
Using a crèche means no expressing breastmilk, one pick up/drop off point for parent & child, and no panicking about what’s happening to my baby because I can simply head upstairs and see him.
The corporate option allows a company to secure a desk for $10,000 a year – this can be shared by up to five people in their company. What a fabulous way to ease back into work!
Points to consider
As a member, I’ve used the space and crèche so I know what’s not perfect about it (yet).
Here are some items to be aware of:
The crèche is not eligible for the government’s childcare rebate. However, at $40 a day I think most people would still come out ahead.
The crèche closing over lunch can be an interruption to your ‘flow’ of work. I’m the kind of person who prefers to eat while I’m reading my emails, so I’ve found it hard to tear myself away for the compulsory closing of the crèche over lunch. On the other hand, I think my children really enjoy their hour with mummy.
The lack of privacy in the co-working area means people who spend a lot of time on the phone and/or discussing confidential information will struggle to make good use of their time. Introducing the break-out rooms will solve this problem. I’ve borrowed the boardroom when I’ve had to make a call and if it’s vacant there are no issues.
Even with these limitations, it’s still the best co-working space I’ve used to date (and I’ve used a few).
Address: 12 Lindsay Street, Northbridge.
Opening hours: 8am to 5pm (after-hours access available without childcare).
Co-working space cost: Starts at $60 plus GST per month for community membership then per-day rates for a desk, or $300 plus GST per month for one day a week of co-working space use.
Creche cost: For members it’s $25 per half day (8am-12pm or 1-5pm), $30 for the school session (9:30am to 2:30pm, closed 12-1pm) or $40 per full day (closed 12-1pm).
Driving and parking: Less than 1km to the Charles Street exit on the Mitchell Freeway. Wilsons and street parking are closest, ~$20 a day.
Public transport: 800m walk to Perth train station; near the bus stops on corner of Newcastle and Beaufort Streets.