Freedom Works, the creative, flexible co-working hub, has opened a new space at the Crawley Business Quarter, Manor Royal. We hear from its founder, Jon Trigg, on why co-working is the new way to work
Bill Gates published an interesting book called ‘Business at the Speed of Thought; Succeeding in the Digital Economy’, nearly 20 years ago. The book, written by one of the commercial pioneers of the digital revolution, was really a call to arms to businesses leaders, management and executives on how they could transform their business with technology. His statement at the turn of the millennium was that most businesses were only realising 20% of the benefit technology could afford them. His focuses were on customer/partner processes, employee management and processes.
Whether you have read the book or not, many of the suggestions and processes he outlined in practical terms have been adopted by many global corporations, governments and SME’s to evolve the way we work, compared to 20 years ago. No more faxes, and files of paperwork, Agile software and the Cloud are part of the way we work, and the movement and access to labour, resources, partners, and customers being global, are all benefits of our businesses and economies working at the ‘Thought of Speed’.
And none more so in the way we practically work. Technology has enabled us to work remotely, with more flexible hours releasing the mentality of being chained to the desk. The growth of co-working and community-based hubs and clusters is systematic of our changing attitudes to how we work from both employers and the workforce.
Co-working has become the latest ‘hot topic’ in the business commercial premises world, and why has this way of working changed the market so significantly? A recent JLL Report cited that the traditional-leased office market is growing by just 1% year on year to 2022, whilst co-working/flexible office market growth is at 30%.
Freedom Works, a Sussex-based co-working and flexible office brand have opened up four workspaces in little over a 24-month period, on what has been a phenomenal trajectory fuelled by demand. “People want to work locally and can,” explains Jon Trigg, Founder and MD of Freedom Works. “We have nearly 1,000 businesses within the community and by the end of 2019 we’ll have over 1,500.”
Community is the key word. Technology has come full circle in being an enabler for freelancers, micro-businesses and SME’s to work in shared environments – where the human nature of working amongst each other has provided wider benefits.
“Collaboration is key to why people stay in our spaces,” states Trigg. “The co-working and flexible office model is a market disrupter, as we do not tie people into leases or licences… it’s a truly agile way of having a place to work from. But the key to it is our members stay because it works for them.
“People collaborate with their neighbours. Co-working and shared spaces not only offer a roof over your head but a place to do business,” further explains the Brighton-based business man.
Freedom Works have four spaces across Sussex. Gatwick opened in April 2019 (with 200-desk capacity), Chichester in January 2019 (with 90 desks), Worthing and Hove (both with 200 desks) in 2018 and 2016 respectively; all filled or filling in the case of the recently opened spaces.
The changing way people are working is driving demand; Platform9 in Brighton & Hove have two vibrant work spaces near or at capacity, with other local providers such as CoTribe in Horley and Redhill, and CoHub in Eastbourne.
“Our view is that shared workspaces housing local business communities will become the norm in the next few years. The benefit is huge; collaboration, a strain off our overloaded roads and rail network, and more importantly, a better quality of life allowing homegrown talent to remain at home,” concludes Trigg.
Technology is an enabler and is allowing Sussex to work smarter, maintain its talent and provide friendly and co-operative spaces for new businesses to come to the South East. This fundamental change in the way we work has furthermore been a contributory factor into how towns in Sussex are changing, none more so than Crawley, in the heart of the Gatwick Diamond.
In what was a new town back in the 1960s with a core retail centre and very little town centre housing, the change to mixed development - driven by ‘work where you live’ - has allowed planners to design a new format of town centres, which will provide a bustling new centre to Gatwick’s nearest town.
Technology has changed the way we work for the good, allowing us to work locally, in communities where we collaborate, bringing the heart back into the towns we spend our leisure time in, and in short, improving our quality of life.
To find out more about Freedom Works flexible co-working space visit www.freedomworks.space or call 01293 368100