A kaleidoscope of colour at Birdies sports and social space
Hidden under the iconic Battersea Power Station train arches, interior architecture studio SHED has created a cocktail bar and playful golf course.
It is all too easy to get carried away with the juggernaut that is coworking. Although coworking will continue to grab a lot of the headlines, we should forget these alt-multi-occupancy office providers at our peril. We’ve talked to Phil Nevin, Co-founder and CCO of x+why, a leading ‘MOOP’, about their flex offering.
Coworking is much more than simply shared space – it’s about community and the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from others
What does coworking mean to you?
In terms of definition it means two things to us; multi-let, serviced buildings where companies share facilities such as tea points and breakout space and/or ‘hot desks’, where solopreneurs or start-ups rent space in open plan areas of buildings. But coworking is much more than simply shared space – it’s about community and the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from others. It gives solo workers the chance to have those important water cooler chats, young businesses the chance to learn from those with more experience, and bigger businesses the chance to work in exciting environments.
From when you started, has your client profile changed?
We have seen a shift in the size of companies taking space in our buildings. More mid-sized companies are now looking at flexible office space than before.
Landlords have recognised the revenue benefits of presenting their buildings to the market as co-working space rather than CAT A. Many are implementing their own schemes. Is this a threat?
It is increasing the supply of coworking space available, but many landlords are looking to partner with operators in order to do so, understanding that this is about more than just delivering space. Brand, and standing for something, is important. You can’t just deliver space. So we see this as an opportunity, not a threat. It is representative of coworking taking a bigger slice of the office market more generally, and a shift toward both hospitality and ‘plug and play’ solutions.
How has coworking’s shift from incubated work environments for start-ups to flex space for established companies influenced your offering?
This has started to influence the geography we are looking at for new buildings. Clearly, larger companies and blue chip companies are used to being in more traditional and developed parts of cities and towns, so in order to provide for them, we need to be in those areas. We have found that even the bigger companies enjoy the communal areas – and spend large parts of the day in the ‘coworking’ spaces, working and having meetings. There is definitely a huge opportunity for flexible workspaces to be supporting collaboration between these bigger businesses.
It is representative of coworking taking a bigger slice of the office market more generally, and a shift toward both hospitality and ‘plug and play’ solutions
What is your USP?
Our USP is to stand for and promote sustainable or ‘purpose driven’ business practices. We believe that the world of work needs to change and is beginning to change fast. We see ourselves as part of this change. We unite purpose driven businesses, we inspire them through our cultural programme, and then we amplify their success. Our aim is to help prove that the emerging new form of business, which puts people and planet on a par with making profit, is the model that all business should adopt.
Which trends influenced the design of your space?
Sustainability has a strong influence on the design of our space. Our flagship site in Whitechapel is BREEAM excellent, and many of the furnishings and products used inside the building are sustainably sourced. A big part of purpose driven business is wellness, so this also has a strong influence on our design – whether that be through dedicated wellness suites or biophilic design. We are also big believers in place and community. So our design and approach changes depending on the location of the building, with the aim of including, not excluding, the local community.
Describe what you think workplaces will look like in 20 years’ time.
How we all do business is changing, and the workplace will adapt to keep up with this. Employee wellbeing and sustainability will be at the heart of this, so I think you will see more hybrid buildings, which offer integrated health and fitness facilities as well as childcare and healthcare. Tech and AI are going to play a big part in things too. We can see tech transforming the meeting room experience, for instance.
Inspiration for your next read
The last in our series looking at how the current crisis will affect the commercial interiors (and wider) world, we’ve asked a number of leading end users and workplace experts to offer their opinions on where we’re likely to find ourselves post-COVID.
Angela Bardino, Design Principal at leading professional services firm, Jacobs, examines employees’ impact on both immediate business and subsequent end user groups.