KMC Solutions ramps up expansion, turns Makati tower into serviced office facility
The strict lockdowns and social distancing protocols arising from the prolonged pandemic have shaken up the coworking space industry. But while many are rationalizing operations and giving up building space, KMC Solutions, the largest coworking space provider in the country, is doing the opposite.
Ramping up its expansion, KMC Solutions took up one whole building in Makati—a 14-story brand-new tower in Salcedo Village—and turned it into the largest serviced office facility in the country with 7,400 square meters in leasable space. KMC Armstrong Corporate Center was inaugurated in October.
Usually, flexible workspace operators—which serve offices and business owners in need of alternative office solutions—occupy only certain areas of an office building. KMC Armstrong is thus a first in the local property scene. Never before had a flexible workspace operator absorbed an entire building by itself.
“This was a dream of ours come true,” said KMC Solutions cofounder Michael McCullough, who said the group had proceeded with this project despite the uncertainties arising from the pandemic.
“Flexible workspace is here to stay. All employees want flexibility. The corporations that give it, they give quality office space. They are the ones that are going to continue to attract the best talent in the market,” he said during the launch of the building.
KMC Solutions chief operating officer Tracy Ignacio said the project had been conceptualized prepandemic, back in November 2019, and the lease agreement with the landlord finalized in December of the same year.
Built together with SDW Realty & Development as the building contractor, Ignacio said KMC Solutions was able to define the whole building culture and processes, given that the company was the sole building tenant. Homegrown designers worked on the flagship office hub from ground to penthouse.
“There’s a mix of different amenities in this building. There’s a huge coworking space, there are private offices for clients and there are floors that are highly customizable for the ones that would like to take an entire floor. But the very best part of this building is the sky garden,” she said, referring to a mini-oasis where building occupants can relax and breath fresh air while viewing the skyline of the metropolis.
KMC Armstrong designated eight floors for flexible workspaces. There are private offices, an event space and other built-to-suit office solutions.
The building also has a coffee shop on the ground floor, called KMC Cafe. McCullough noted the first coworking space in the world must have been Starbucks, with this coffee shop chain becoming a popular venue for small, informal group meetings. He said KMC Cafe could serve the same purpose and be replicated in other locations in the future.
Most importantly, as the building fit-out happened in the midst of a raging pandemic, it gave KMC Solutions the opportunity to design everything in line with the guidelines of the government’s COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. The firm tapped a third party space consulting firm to come up with a system to review and limit foot traffic, determine the furniture layout and ensure safe density.
‘Office of the future’
With more businesses looking to transition their workforce operations to a hybrid work setup, KMC Solutions believes that flexible workspaces could provide the perfect venue for companies to safely do this transition.
“It’s always a question: What is the office of the future? What is the future of work? And in KMC, we’ve always been advance. We’ve had all these kinds of solutions, even before the pandemic,” Ignacio said.
KMC Solutions combined these solutions into the “triple H” approach, she said. “You can call it the hybrid office, wherein you can choose to work from the headquarters just as beautiful as this one, Armstrong, or you can have a setup like a hub-and-spoke, wherein some of your employees are working wherever they live near, as have over 20 different locations in the Metro Manila,” Ignacio said.
KMC Solutions, which has been in the coworking business for over a decade, operates over 55 flexible workspaces across Metro Manila, Cebu, Clark and Iloilo.
At the Armstrong building, KMC Solutions has signed up companies like Asia Premier One Source Inc., Zuellig Pharma Asia-Pacific and Unifin Inc. to populate serviced offices.
Even as many businesses are moving out of the traditional office space, KMC Solutions reported a “reinvigorated interest” in serviced offices as companies consider swing spaces and scaled down options. In some cases, they look for second workplaces to lower the density of their headquarters.
For its part, Ignacio said KMC Solutions could also help clients set up employees in the comforts of their own home. “But with such a nice office, who would want to be working from home?”