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Explore the latest projects from the UK’s commercial interiors industry, featuring the best of workspace, hospitality, residential and public sectors.

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DESSO Orchard Collection by Tarkett

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An interview with The Coalface COO, Jonathan Hausmann

The Coalface is an exciting new flexible workspace for businesses, entrepreneurs, freelancers and start-ups.

Offering private offices and dedicated desks, as well as various membership solutions and meeting rooms, The Coalface aims to take care of all the hassle behind running an office – so that members can work, concentrate, and focus on what matters most. We talk with COO, Jonathan Hausmann.

30/09/2019 4 min read

In simple terms, what is The Coalface?

“The Coalface is an architecturally refurbished workspace in Finsbury Park, North London. We offer private offices from between 3-20 desks, but the space is designed to be flexible and accommodating to members’ changing needs, so each office can be made larger or smaller as businesses expand or downsize. We also offer fixed desks and drop-in desks in a large shared space, as well as private meeting rooms, breakout areas and outside space to work or relax in.”

What is the gap in the market that The Coalface is filling?

“Probably the main differentiator with The Coalface is our location and affordability – we are the first coworking space to open in Finsbury Park and it’s such a fantastic place to be based. Most of the coworking facilities currently on offer are based centrally, and their prices reflect this. We offer our members a really high-quality space that is genuinely affordable, so it’s ideal for entrepreneurs and start-ups who are increasingly being priced out of Central London, and are fed up with working out of a coffee shop.

For most businesses it is no longer critical to be based in central London and so there is a clear market for a more affordable space outside of the City. Finsbury Park is close to the creative hubs of Hackney and Shoreditch and is ideal for people who need to travel in and out of the City for meetings; its transport links mean you can be there in less than 10 minutes. People now don’t need to continue their journeys into central London and pay a premium for the privilege of working there.

In contrast to many coworking facilities, where economically affordable desks are in shared, open plan spaces, The Coalface offers predominately private offices that are genuinely affordable. Without compromising on quality, amenities or space, entrepreneurs, SMEs and start-ups can secure a private office from just £267+ VAT per desk per month.”

What is your role at Coalface?

“I am the Chief Operating Officer at The Coalface. Perhaps what is unique about this role is that I was involved from the very outset; I joined when the space was still a building site. This allowed me to have a say in its design – everything from its layout to furniture selection, and even down to details like the choice of coffee machine. It gives me a real sense of ownership in the role; rather than joining an established business and trying to make my mark, I’ve been able to shape it from the start. 

Because The Coalface is a new venture, my remit is pretty broad. Notably, I am responsible for everything involved in securing and retaining members – I manage relationships with brokers, undertake viewings and market the space; I facilitated the design and creation of the website and also manage the day-to-day relationships with our members. Again, there are many advantages to being so hands on; I feel like I am really connected with everyone, rather than running it from afar. It allows me to gauge how it’s going, if people are happy and what needs to change.”

What are the biggest challenges you and your team face?

“Being outside of central London is what makes The Coalface so special; offering such a high-spec space at a genuinely affordable price is our USP and we’ve immediately seen people taking advantage of that. However, some potential clients still believe that they need to be in central London. We aren’t going to work for everyone, but we feel that there are many people working centrally and paying a premium to do so, when there is increasingly no need to. Finsbury Park has such incredible transport links – you can be in the City in 10 minutes.”

Name one thing that will have disappeared from the workplace in the next decade.

“I think we are seeing a gradual decline in the traditional working day/week. Fewer and fewer people are working 9-5, Monday-Friday – hours that used to be conventional for most office jobs. Flexibility is increasingly important to people; even big businesses are gradually embracing flexible working and I expect this trend to continue. We are seeing more companies allowing people to work from home and they are relaxing the traditional fixed hours that people are expected to be in the office.”

Are clients becoming more knowledgeable and therefore more challenging? 

“As coworking spaces have become more common, there is definitely an increased sophistication amongst clients when they are looking for somewhere to work. And I think this is a positive thing – with more choice out there, people can really choose the space that is right for them, rather than just having to pick from the limited options on offer. Our clients know what they want; they know what works for them, and so there is definitely more pressure to get your product right. We knew when we designed The Coalface that we had to identify a gap in the market rather than offer something that already exists. And the response we’ve had since we launched suggests that we’ve got it right.”

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