With startups continuing on an upward trend, coworking spaces are the new kids on the block. All across London they are coming up: Central Working, WeWork, Second Home, The Trampery, Innovation Hub, Runway East, etc. They are changing how we think about our workspaces, as well as making expensive urban real estate affordable for companies on lean budgets. We at Runway East can testify that coworking spaces are helping us work better and more collaboratively. Internationally, the appeal of coworking continues to grow. This year in March, deskmag reported that Google registered a 35% rise in the number of searches for the term “coworking”. So why exactly are these innovation hubs causing such a stir today?
Coworking spaces offer independent workers an environment where they can work without having to foot a monthly bill for their own premises. Hubs in London tend to be modern, well-designed offices with an innovative buzz. Sometimes spaces may even offer some very nice perks: Runway East offers ping pong to it’s residents at it’s locations, whilst WeWork famously has beer on tap. Another coworking space around the corner may decide their members need hammocks for an afternoon siesta! The variety is staggering, really. In the same way, some coworking spaces may work on a membership system – you pay X amount of money and have constant access to a workspace – or a pay-per-desk option.
“You are in a place that has energy, not stuck in an office”
Sokratis Papafloratos, founder Togethera
Putting your business in the right location can be key to your overall success, particularly in those vulnerable first years as a start-up. Coworking spaces offer a more economical way to set up shop in expensive urban areas. Whereas a tech business might benefit from a City office because of the wealth of contacts within close proximity, the associated costs of opening new premises might not be viable on a shoestring budget – coworking offers the benefit of great location and low prices by spreading the cost of a conventional office hire across multiple member companies.
Coworking offers the opportunity to collaborate on projects and benefit from other business owners’ wisdom. In sharing office space, companies can feed off each other’s skills and services. For instance, company A may offer IT cloud computing services which company B needs – conversely, company B could then offer their account services to company A. We are deeply invested in creating dynamic ecosystems where everyone can feel like they’re part of a team – it’s not just about sharing deskspace. It’s about sharing creative energy and skills, and the knowledge that you’re working with like-minded individuals in a thriving community.
Peter A. Bacevice, in TIME magazine, looking at the popularity of coworking spaces in London and elsewhere, writes that coworking allows for more flexible working situations. Members aren’t needed to be in the office for the generic work schedule, and are able to organise their lives around social lives, family and other obligations. Aaron Hurst of The Purpose Economy writes that people are driven not by a monetary incentive anymore, but by personal growth, striving for “the service of something greater than themselves. There are no rules, no dress codes, no “management” to be beholden to – we’ve all been there, and we’re not in school anymore. At the heart of coworking lies the commitment to flexibility and a revolution of how we think about the spaces we work in.
“There is a great serendipity at Runway East – on a given day you never know who you might meet and help one another build your businesses”
Madalena Moreira, Winnow
We can’t ignore the fact that coworking spaces are also incredibly beautiful. Design and comfort take centre stage in the aesthetics of coworking spaces; CentralWorking favours a minimalist industrial tone, while The Trampery likes a feel that’s more high-class country club. Whilst there is a definite variety in vibe and philosophy, coworking spaces are unanimously eschewing the typical cubicle-cramped offices in favour for the far less stifling open-plan workspaces. Desks pushed up against each other in rows, with only computer screens for division, the very design of the coworking space is imbued with the spirit of collaboration. Coworking behemoth WeWork indicate a preference for glass offices but their buildings are also speckled with large common areas. Many spaces also prefer the airiness of natural light streaming through large glass windows – gone are the windowless worlds of the corporations, the hip, streamlined, brightly-lit coworking spaces are here to stay!
Coworking may not be for everyone – we imagine that accounting firms may have something to say about this – but for now, it’s changing all our preconceived notions about what a workspace needs to be or look like. Spaces are popping up in every part of the UK, and all around the world, so clearly, there must be something about it that’s got everyone paying attention.
“You can see it in their eyes, they are really enjoying being here, but also getting on with their work”
Gerard Grech, CEO, Tech City UK