By Costas Polycarpou, Regeneration Director, Polyteck
The world of work is evolving and, with it, the idea of what the working environment should look like.
Demand for flexible workspace saw record growth across the UK last year as firms – particularly young, innovative companies – demand lower-cost solutions that can adapt to their changing needs and provide their workers with an environment in which they can thrive.
In fact, research by Cushman & Wakefield found that the take-up co-working spaces jumped from 2% to 7.5% of all leases in the UK’s largest cities outside of London in 2017.
Meanwhile, the capital remains the world leader for co-working spaces, ahead of New York.
The rising popularity of these spaces is a boon, particularly for businesses in the creative and arts and crafts space, where traditional office space would either be unsuitable for their needs or financially out of reach.
But it isn’t just the economic benefit to the businesses themselves that makes developments like these exciting. They can drive regeneration of local communities, breathing new life into disused public buildings and drawing in young, dynamic individuals to live and work in the area.
Take the example of social enterprise The Mill Co. Project. It specialises in providing studios and workspaces for independent artists, designers and small creative businesses in London.
One of the sites it runs, the Rose Lipman Building, occupies a 1960s former library and community centre. Now it provides studio and event space to local artists and designers at below-market rates in exchange for working with the local community.
Meanwhile, we are working to deliver a £50m project in joint venture with Haringey Council at Bernard Works in Seven Sisters, which will also be leased to the Mill Co. Project.
This will provide not just a 25,000 sq ft commercial workspace, comprising 28 affordable workspaces to be let at 75% of market rate, but also 13 ‘tethered’ affordable residential units for commercial occupiers who want to live on site. The basement will house music studios, while the ground floor will feature shared cafes that are open to the occupants of the other 89 residential units that will be built for private sale.
This mixed-use scheme will provide much-needed housing for the area, building a community where people work and live and enhancing the neighbourhood. It is due for completion in October 2020.
There’s no doubt that co-working spaces like this are helping to change the way in which we all work.
They can help to revitalise local communities and their economies at the same time, as well as offering young businesses the chance to grow, with the flexibility to scale up their operations.