Co-working: London’s new way of doing business

The Founder. Photo: Silje Dammen

They are everywhere; one for the tech types; one for the fashion industry; one for entrepreneurs, it’s a new boom in London and it’s called co-working.

Before 2009 there was almost no co-working offices in London, now in 2014, there are over 40 co-working offices in just East London. In the last five years the co-working industry has taken off and there is a place for every type.

Co-working is a style of work that involves a shared working environment for the people who are not employed by the same organisation.

Johan Brand, the CEO and founder of Kahoot! a company that makes game-based digital pedagogy for schools all over the world, says he has been using co-working offices for the last three years.

He thinks that co-working has become so popular because it’s a place for you to get new contacts and global relations and because of the increase of freelancers and individual entrepreneurs.

“It’s a new mind-set : if you’re one person, you’re a company.” Brand says.

For Brand, co-working provides a place where you can get inspiration and ideas from others and grow as a company or a freelancer. He says that it’s not only freelancers who hire an office space, but also big companies.

“Big businesses want to have people there to build relations with other companies and people.”

It’s not all about the office space. Co-working has become a community where you can get new contacts and be surrounded by others in your situation. But  not everyone thinks this work style fits them.

Cedrick Odompleh is one of the founders behind Artexor, a freelance company that provides web services. “I work with clients from different countries so often I may be up late having a meeting or delivering on work so it’s important everything I need for my day-to-day work is close to me.”

And for Odompleh there is another reason to work from his home office – it is an additional expense. The prices for a co-working office vary from £45 for 12 hours per month up to £325 per month full time. Costs depends on how much you wish to use the office. Some places offer drop in, up to 12 hours a month or full time. the co-working office ‘Small Works’ offers a discount in exchange for your free service to the local community,

And there are other ‘perks’ – ‘The Trampery’ turns into a bar after working hours and ‘Campus London’, founded by Google, mentors their customers and has events everyday.

London has become the biggest market in co-working in Europe, and East London was one of the first places to establish collaborative working offices in the UK.

Charles Armstrong, the founder of ‘The Trampery’, a co-working company with over four different locations in East London, thinks that London and especially East London stands out:

“It’s different than any other places, we think more about the esthetic, a great community, we hire architects and it’s highly designed.” Armstrong says.

Because of  the growing popularity of co-working, many companies have invested in making several offices based in different locations. ‘Club Workplace’ has over 11 locations and ‘The Trampery’ has four, but Armstrong doesn’t think they will ‘take’ over the co-working industry.

“We have no shareholders, and we get our money from our costumers fees” Armstrong says.

“The (industry) is growing very rapidly, it’s just the beginning.”

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