The last few years has seen the number of co-working spaces in London explode to over 1,000, with freelancers and startup founders increasingly choosing collaborative environments instead of working from home.
The number of startups in the capital has been growing at around seven percent a year in a trend for entrepreneurialism that sees little sign of abating. The ONS has put the growth in new businesses down “strong growth and low inflation” in the UK, but it is also due to the evolution of the job market and changing attitudes towards work in general.
Whilst traditional serviced offices in London offered project-based teams or international businesses a reliable base of operations, they do not offer the flexibility required for freelancers or individual employees working away from the office. This growing group of people in the capital often want to pay for office space by the hour, and see co-working spaces as a step up from working at the kitchen table or local coffee shop.
For early-stage startups too, co-working spaces have become increasingly popular because of their flexibility, as Jonny Rosenblatt, founder and managing director of co-working office operator Headspace Group, explained to IPE RA:
“There has been an increasing demand for flexible workspace, particularly from small teams who, although ambitious, don’t know what their growth pattern will be. Founders may not know whether their business will employ five or 80 people over the course of a year.”
Beyond the flexibility, co-working spaces also help to solve one of the major downsides of working from home – loneliness. The spaces are often a place for community, where like-minded people or merely local people can work together and avoid the isolation, as Danny Bulmer, founder of the Co Up Creative Hub in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire, explained to Virgin Entrepreneur:
“The sense of ‘I’m not alone in running my own business’ really helps when you’re just starting out.
“We are all social beings and whilst we want to be in a space that allows us to get our head down, we still want to be part of a community. Having a chat in the kitchen, going for a pint after work or working on a project together are all possible even when you’re a sole trader.”