This is a guest post from Callum Lee, Consultant at BOP Consulting, a London based agency which is examining the economic and social impacts of culture and the creative industries.
Have a niche, but not too much of one.
Coworking is about variety and community. If you want to hear new ideas, you need to look away your own profession. But you also need to connect with coworkers, and that’s hard if you’re mixing wealthy bankers with struggling artists. Coworkers told us that the quality of connection is crucial - and the right mix of people is how you get there.
Actively introduce new people.
Making the effort helps your coworkers work with one another - and this needs to be lo-tech, face to face. In one cluster, a business told us that they secured 90% of their work producing brand identities and websites for new businesses as they came in the door. The secret was simple - a blackboard telling everyone who was new. If it needed to be online, there wouldn’t be any point in being in the centre at all.
Short leases and flexible space.
Everyone loves short leases or contracts and flexible space - and not just to help with cashflow. When we surveyed businesses the number one ask from their landlords and coworking spaces was for flexibility over rent payments. For most this was their largest expenditure.
But coworkers also have a sense of ambition and opportunity. Short leases aren’t for cancelling, they’re also for trading up. We spoke to coworkers who had taken on new desks, or even offices, in spaces because they’d spotted an opportunity and gone for it. And they appreciated the flexibility of lease in allowing them to do this.
Choose suburban locations.
The creative industries are changing. The centre of most cities is expensive, as banks and IT firms are looking for more interesting locations to help them recruit staff, and they can pay more. So in lots of cities - like London - the creative industries are moving into the inner suburbs, nearer their homes and their children’s schools. In London, this means places like Hackney, where the Shoreditch Trust runs creative coworking spaces like iNDUSTRY. Almost all the coworkers there live near the centre.
Worry a lot about how it looks.
As you work for yourself, and closer to home, your work is part of your identity. And if you’re in the creative industries you’re more likely to have a visual job, like a designer. So the coworkers we spoke to really cared about how their spaces look. This is why Hub Westminster has a green house inside for meetings and the angles on their tables are softened to make them more collaborative.
These tips mean something. For London, the creative industries are a £21billion business. And there are a lot of creative workers here. Despite the economic slump 360,000 people work in the sector. 75,000 work freelance or for themselves. That’s a lot of coworkers.
This is a guest post from Callum Lee, Consultant at BOP, a London based agency which is examining the economic and social impacts of culture and the creative industries.