Join the club?

Our recent design work on co-working offices led to one team member posing the question: Would Hyphen consider moving into a co-working office?

Perhaps this warrants consideration, not only because we are now bursting at the seams in our London office, but also because we are looking to fit out the reception area which involves a significant capital investment.

But is the answer a purely financial one, or more of a philosophical one?

There are many companies specialising in co-working office spaces:
WeWork / Spaces / Techspace / TOG immediately spring to mind, and whilst initially they look to be more expensive than a basic office rental, the prices start to look attractive when you consider the many overheads associated with a traditional lease. Given the added flexibility to contract/expand when the business needs, the co-working option looks economically viable.

But how would our staff feel about this change and what would our clients think if they visited us in our co-working office? Given the many locations of current co-working offerings we would certainly have a wide choice for our new home, and does it matter that they would have to walk through a shared reception, after all this is the case with most large office buildings. So, does the very idea of a co-working office appear provisional / fly-by-night? Is it more relevant to a tech start-up rather than an established architectural practice?

In order to answer this, maybe we have to consider co-working as part of the model of so-called ‘subscription living’, after all we no longer buy music, we stream it; we no longer buy a DVD, we Netflix; we no longer need to own a car, we Uber; we no longer need to buy that Prada dress to wear for one night, we can now rent it for the awards ceremony. When most people living in London rent shared accommodation, why should a shared office seem unusual? Maybe my view of subscription living is clouded by an outdated need for the security of property and ownership (I still buy records!)

After having been closely involved in the design and fit-out of many co-working office spaces, it’s clear that the level of investment by these companies results in impressive architecture, and rather than appearing temporary, the spaces offer creative, dynamic working environments. Combine that with good communal facilities and the events now being offered by many co-working companies, being part of a multi-professional community could provide good networking and business development opportunities. This leads me to ask, is now a good time to join the revolution?