As I walked around property trade event MIPIM UK a few weeks ago, like many others I invariably ended up wandering* between the multitude of supplier stands that dotted the Olympia exhibition hall. Many were well known brands in the property sector, there were plenty of UK cities trying to convince attendees that they were indeed the up and coming centre to invest in, while there were many less well known (at least to me) service or product suppliers selling their wares and giving out the obligatory freebies. So aside from seeing who were giving out the best / most useful trinkets; it quickly became a game of seeing how long it would take between me asking “What do you guys do then” and me gaining a reasonable understanding of what their actual services were and their proposition for clients.
The results were startlingly different. On the one hand I had guys like ParkBee, through whose name you could hazard a guess at their activity; while their sales guy very quickly and succinctly told me that they make private parking spaces owned by corporate offices or hotels available to the public to help alleviate parking issues in town or city centres. (A great idea and something we could certainly do with where I live in Maidenhead).
On the other hand, and I won’t name names, there were an awful lot of companies there whose brand name and logos, iffy collateral and not to mention poor explanation by slightly hungover sales teams, often left me none the wiser about what they really did and certainly not why I as a potential customer should choose their offering over a competitor.
So referring to this blog title, I suppose I am more of a ‘Ronseal’ kind of person, and quite like a name that does exactly what it says on the tin. This was very apt as going through possibilities of names for my new venture MyWorkSpot – a coworking group and flexible workspace designed for independent workers, entrepreneurs, small businesses and corporate commuters in Maidenhead and the surrounding area in Berkshire.
While I could have gone for something aspirational or a little bit zany, in the end it was a simple choice that recognises that these days we all work differently. As I wrote in a previous post; while technology has been the great enabler for flexible working, it is really being driven (outside of just the expanding contingent workforce / freelance and entrepreneurial communities) by companies large and small who are beginning to see the benefits both financially and in terms of productivity and wellbeing of employees to allow this agile working.
There was a line in a recent CBRE report that I really liked:
“By embracing the idea that the office exists as one in a network of places where work gets done, companies are reducing the footprint they pay for while giving their people more flexibility”
People therefore have more choices than ever before in how and where they want to work and so MyWorkSpot Maidenhead needs to be a service that its members can tailor as much as possible to meet their own particular needs.
So of course choosing a name has been the relatively easy bit. Now comes the really important area which is:
- making sure that we are able to design a workplace that meets not only the functional working needs of the members to allow work to get physically done, but also
- creates a destination that promotes collaboration, community, health and well-being
Both areas are hugely important. For point 1 – technology has revolutionised the workplace over the past 5 years. For companies coming to the end of a traditional 10-year lease, they likely made decisions about their current office space and work environment before the release of the first iPhone back in June 2007, which has fundamentally changed how we consume information. With the rapid rate of change, planning ahead a couple of years is difficult enough, never mind 10 years! Should companies be planning now for life after lap-tops which will no doubt become defunct at some point?!
For point 2 – opening up a coworking space is about creating a valued destination. The home is a place where work can get done for ‘free’ from a financial perspective and so any coworking space needs to offer value over and above a desk and a working Wifi. This includes enhanced productivity driven from the psychology of going to a ‘place of work’ away from home distractions, as well as the connections made and benefits of interacting with a community of like-minded others.
While the journey to opening up MyWorkSpot Maidenhead continues at pace, we hold regular coworking days and if you live in Maidenhead or anywhere near, please feel free to join us.
*MIPIM UK wasn’t just about ‘wandering’, I think the content was very strong this year and I particularly enjoyed a feisty debate led by John Williams and the Instant Office Group around the future of coworking in the UK. Also details of footballers Rio Ferdinand, Mark Noble and Bobby Zamora’s ‘Legacy’ social housing programme.