How co-working spaces are stepping up their game to provide luxury office facilities for future unicorns

By Tempus | 21 Oct 2021 | Design, Property

From membership-style bars to wellness centres, we discover why co-working is here to stay

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* Shared working space at Uncommon Borough [©Nahwand Jeff]

For most, the image of a co-working office before 2020 may have been more as a necessary evil than an ideal situation. Although a perfect inner-city solution for freelancers and small businesses, co-working was nevertheless seen as perhaps a more clinical option than a private members club or even a stylish hotel lounge. 

But, with the rise of more fashion-friendly shared working spaces popping up in city hubs – such as Shoreditch’s The Curtain – co-working was finally starting to become cool, with workspaces that combined practical needs with coffee-house vibes, potted plants and ambient lighting. Then, the pandemic. 

While Covid-19 could have been a death knell for co-working spaces, the rise of flexible working necessitated by the pandemic has, in fact, inspired many companies to realise the potential of flexible office space – revamping not just the décor, but the functionality of their offices. Long gone are stiff rows of desks and sterile walls to mirror a standard office space. Now, co-working pioneers offer a range of solutions to suit a client’s needs – whether that’s comfortable sofas, collaborative booths, private pods for creative focus, high-tech boardrooms or ergonomic desks. 

Uncommon is one such example. With a range of flexible working spaces from private offices to member areas, gyms to rooftop area, Uncommon has five locations in key areas of London – Borough, Holborn, Islington, Fulham and Liverpool Street. Its mission is to create a working culture where individuals and future unicorns can thrive, focusing on providing ergonomics – from standing desks to balanced chairs – ambient sound and lighting, soothing scent (Borough’s bespoke scent is a spa-like treat) and biophilia. 

Each of the brand’s five locations showcases what it describes as an “urban jungle” feature within the common areas. Elsewhere, those on tight deadlines can find secluded creative pods designed for focused working, or rooftops for networking and taking a breath of fresh air, in addition to all the standard needs of an office. And the aim is clear: to make entrepreneurship thrive within a stress-free, energised and flexible environment. 

The member response to this approach has even seen Uncommon release its first collection of furniture, Curated by Uncommon, so members can emulate the organic office atmosphere even while working from their home offices. 

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* Members area at Uncommon Borough [©Nahwand Jeff]

While co-working may straddle the line between flexible working and traditional office hours, it also offers small businesses and freelancers the atmosphere of working in a larger organisation. With multiple locations across London, Spaces is among the contemporary co-working offices that encourages networking from within, from traditional notice boards to regular events. Spaces also encourages the health and fitness of its members, from bike storage and shower facilities to offering a series of fitness classes from yoga to HIIT activities. 

Another benefit to co-working, of course, is the opportunity for future unicorns to scale down overheads and centre business in a more contemporary and collaborative culture. 

Workspace consultants Spacemade note the practical benefits for fledgling businesses of leaving the myriad issues of building compliance with expert office managers – something that has become particularly important in the ever-changing times post-pandemic. The firm’s co-founder and co-CEO, Jonathan Rosenblatt, recently told UK Tech: “Businesses don’t want to think about building compliance, air quality, sanitisers, extra cleaning and more, but they do want all of that to be taken care of. Thus, the trust rests with flexible workspace operators.”

With flexible workspaces now able to meet the requirements of any type of business – from Argyll’s elegant and traditional private office solutions, to Huckletree’s focus on incubating tech entrepreneurs and start-ups – and offering addresses in the most desirable locations, there is no end to the creative possibilities for entrepreneurs.