Work/Play Spaces: Creating co-working communities or just a clever use of space?
I'll be spending some time investigating the trend towards co-working spaces now becoming not only a place to work away from home but also very much part of many people's social life. The UK is experiencing a boom of micro-business and self-employment, reports such as the RSA's 'Salvation is a Start Up' predict that now 1 in 7 working people are self-employed, so it's little wonder that where these independents choose to work is adapting with demand. The same report's findings state that 40% of this workforce admits to being isolated and that the one-person business is on the up, with exponential growth in the past few years, hence the current move towards of co-working as a popular choice.
Why is simply renting a desk in an equipped space not enough for many people? Why choose a space that provides more facilities than a meeting room, coffee, a water cooler and maybe a ping-pong table thrown in for good measure ? I'llbe talking to some of the people who have created such spaces, who are looking beyond providing desks and many of whom also have a personal desire to support and nurture small independent businesses.
In the meantime here are some examples of what's happening around the world, as this is by no means a London or even East London trend!
Betahaus in Berlin (as well as Hamburg, Barcelona and Sofia) offers a carpentry workshop with weekly woodworking for its residents as well as Yoga, screen printing, business skills workshops, language classes and speed meets. Mindpark in Helsingborg - Sweden is a little more corporate but offers a maker space called CreativeLab on the ground floor offering workshops and tools for members as well a restaurant and café.
Agora in Berlin combines work, art and food with the aim to 'investigating the development of social art practice, experimental methods of group work and interdisciplinary processes'
Worksaigon in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam is a sort of co-working space / holiday hang out attracting a combination of local independents and people passing through, providing a coffeeshop, swimming pool and workshops.
Wework, all over the US, London, Amsterdam and Israel, has a bit of a keen to please franchise feel with plenty of others copying their format worldwide, but they have seen and catered for the niche - co-working, socialising and an inhouse magazine (basically a blog) featuring resident's success stories.