THE shared workspace complex in the historic Daily Echo building has celebrated coming through the pandemic as a vital part of Bournemouth’s business community.

It is six years since work got under way to turn offices and the former press hall into THIS Workspace.

The Daily Echo’s editorial and advertising departments are still in the building, but now share it with a host of other businesses, ranging in size from solo operations to a company with a staff of 64.

The workspace has around 400 desks in total. Well-known tenants include Passenger, which makes ticketing apps and websites for bus companies; Quick Car Finance; the internet of things business u-blox; and tech agency Greenwood Campbell.

THIS Workspace general manager Daniel Hancock said: “It’s gone from start-ups and entrepreneurs just starting out to more established, corporate companies looking for a different environment from the white box offices you can find anywhere.”

The Covid lockdowns allowed more time for the refurbishment of the building, although they left some people wondering whether staff would ever return to offices. But the workspace saw people return, albeit in different patterns than before.

“We went from 10-15 per cent occupancy immediately after the pandemic & lockdowns, to more than 90 per cent in 12 months and developed new areas in that period," said Mr Hancock.

Businesses can choose from a host of membership models, including a single desk for a day at £30, a weekly package from £200 a month, and seven-day access for £330 a month.

Around 200 memberships are in active use every day.

Many of the businesses come together for social events in the venue’s Ink Bar, which is also hosting events for Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce and Bournemouth Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID) as well as the upcoming Bournemouth Writing Festival.

THIS Workspace, part of THAT Group, is developing another site, the former John Lewis building, Knight & Lee, Southsea. That refurbishment will include retail and leisure uses and a hotel and is due to open next year.

Mr Hancock said: “There’s a commitment to renovating and reviving buildings of historical or architectural value.”

Operations manager Sian Pope said the most noticeable selling point of the Bournemouth site is the 1930s Art Deco building itself.

“The building speaks for itself. It’s one of, if not the, biggest selling point, especially for people Bournemouth born and bred. They’ll have a connection to it,” she said.

“Within 10 minutes you can be on the beach. You’re right in the town and not far from the railway station.”