By Prashant Ponkshe
Friday afternoons have a unique feel at a coworking space – the end of another hard week for entrepreneurs and their teams’ building and running their businesses.
As I did the rounds today at Work inc I saw the wide gamut of entrepreneurial emotions on display – from elation to exasperation, sprinkled with a fair bit of exhaustion.
There were people celebrating a deal closed – a great way to end the week. An entrepreneur sending out invoices, hoping his customers pay soon to aid his cashflow. And a cofounder of a startup knackered from the ups and downs of his team of 2 trying to presently do the work of 4.
Coworking spaces are on the rise, but they are not all equal, and on this Friday I got thinking about what separates the good from the great.
A great coworking space is more of a community of like-minded people and businesses. People from diverse personal and professional backgrounds who are looking to grow themselves and their firms by learning and working together.
Whatever obstacle your business is currently facing, you’ll quickly find others who had the same problem. And often there’s as much to learn from their failures as there is from their subsequent solutions.
However, what separates the good from the great is a community of people who are willing to give their time and expertise to others. In the short time I’ve been at Work inc, I’ve already seen businesses help and work together in significant ways, and I’m sure they will build long lasting relationships as a result.
I realised the other day that I am at my most creative when I’m at Work inc. As soon as I enter the building I feel lighter; my mind switches into another gear, and I can quickly get to work in my space and do my best work.
I don’t think I’m overstating the effect – and much of it has to do with the effort Work inc have put into the design of the place. The construction of the building within a building is not something I had seen before. The shipping container motif gets your attention from the moment you walk in. I’ve even seen passers-by stop at the entrance and be drawn in to take a closer look, and yes, eventually take some selfies before moving on.
Not surprisingly the architects have won an award for their efforts. And the good design extends to the offices from the large glass windows to the funky Banksy artwork lining the walls.
It makes a real difference, and the open areas and sister cafe next door are great for brainstorming, collaboration and just chilling out.
A sense of community
Camaraderie is an old fashioned word now I guess, and along with its synonyms (mateship, anyone?) can sound a bit trite. But I thought of it because in a short space of time there is a real camaraderie amongst those at Work inc. I feel emotionally invested in quite a few of the people and businesses in the place – I want to see them do well and help them any way I can.
Credit goes to my fellow tenants in taking the time to get to know each other and offer their time and expertise. It makes such a difference because you feel as though you’re all in it together. Overtime we’re going to ride the ups and downs of our entrepreneurial journeys, pushing each other through the difficult times and celebrating the wins.
The Friday night beer and ping-pong has already become a weekly ritual. It is a great way to end the week and unwind. I’m pretty hopeless at table tennis – but wouldn’t miss a Friday night catching up with my friends and getting to know the new people at the hub.
This sense of community has built so quickly thanks to the great team behind Bay 9. Tom, Lucy and Maria Luisa have done an outstanding job creating an environment where we can work and grow together.
They work incredibly hard – I often see them working back late to find fixes for small issues that have come up during the day. Last week was particularly busy as they are in the middle of constructing a coworking space next door – but somehow they took time out to organise a very successful pizza and beer night for the hub – just so some of the newer tenants would feel more at home.
I think the three aspects I have described above are foundational – but unfortunately not all that common amongst coworking spaces I’ve experienced or heard of. It’s impressive that everyone has already achieved so much – and I’m looking forward to seeing this community grow from strength to strength. (And I hope this also applies to my ping-pong skills.)”
(Prashant Ponkshe is from Symphony 5, a marketing consultancy company for start-ups. Symphony 5 provide strategy, digital and product management consulting and training to start-ups of all sizes. They also run ClearLeap, a marketing automation consultancy focused on delivering solutions for start-ups and SMEs)