Co-working. It’s about the people.
Give up the London office and move to Brighton.
It’s a decade since 05creative took that plunge. Not without trepidation. Would we lose our London clients? Would I lose my edge working by the sleepy seaside? Where would I get my habitual fix of commuting and pollution?
Turned out we lost one client, who came back after a year. Oh, and Brighton’s packed with hard working, energetic talent. Any ‘edge’ I thought I was uniquely blessed with was blunt by comparison to many of these creative thrusters.
So we found a serviced office in the middle of Brighton. A glorious cube of magnolia and smoked glass accented with aluminium strips, it wasn’t the prettiest but was a dry, secure and well maintained place from which to operate.
By month three though, the soullessness of the place was getting to me. In fairness, they held occasional coffee mornings to encourage ‘mingling’, but these were awkward affairs that felt like forced networking. Everyone would quickly disappear to their respective cubicles once the biscuits ran out. Any kind of service was meanly charged for too, itemised to their smallest component part; An extra 10 minutes in the meeting room? That will be an extra 1 hour charge thank you very much.
No more magnolia mingling
The best thing to come from that first place was the friendship that grew with a neighbouring cell-mate who ran a PR business and had also made the jump from London. One day, along with an eruditely spoken doorway smoker (and amazingly talented 3D illustrator), we found a cool new place.
That place was The Werks and 8 years later, having expanded into half of the top floor, it continues to be a loving home for our small agency. This longevity owes a lot to those early friendships and the new ones. It’s a social glue that really helps this place retain clients.
The Werks was one of the first co-working spaces around. A new concept to provide a place where freelancers and small business could work side by side, collaborate and benefit from shared experiences. The Werks is a mix of desk and office space, offering casual co-working to permanent spaces. This building is served by a central stairwell, so you can peek into each floor if you’re feeling sociable and get to know who’s in the building. You’ll have to gauge whether you’re being disruptive or sociable. But that’s part of the thrill.
Tea, coffee, business and booze
Business collaborations can happen more naturally and are helped by the trust that comes from knowing each other over time. We’ve employed and have been employed by others in the building. Most small agencies need external expertise on certain projects and we can be more certain of these partners, because we make each other tea! This benefits us and ultimately our clients who are depending on a team that will still be around in a year’s time.
The difference between The Werks and the old place is personality. The Werks management aren’t a distant corporate entity, we all know the owners and managers personally and we see them daily. The environment here has encouraged great social connections. We have grown many dear friends here and have worked with some. There have been dress-up days, Paddle round the Pier, and many a spontaneous boozy gathering. A warning though; with the various configurations and micro communities on each floor, the number of Christmas parties can get out of hand.
05creative* were recently commissioned to create a graphic installation in the foyer of our building. Designed to convey a sense the community here, it shares the stories of past and present. It’s functional too, displaying who’s here, where they are and what events are going on.
The Werks Group is thriving and now have 10 sites, offering over a 100,000 square feet of business space around Brighton and Hove. And they’re really nice.
It’s nice to be nice. In the case of encouraging a co-working environment, nice is good business too.