JOHN DALY: How we will work tomorrow is taking shape today

In the new 21st century office, the continuing growth of the co-working space is establishing itself as a cost-effective communal answer to high rents and central locations in cities around the world.

Built around high-tech facilities and consigning the outdated ‘9 to 5’ mentality to history, these new work places springing up in urban centres promote themselves as collegial spaces letting users work how they want and when they want.

Flexible places, operating alternatively as offices and social spaces, they cater for anything from a simple half day’s use of a desk complete with laptop and wifi, to a meeting room and social scene populated by everyone from tech entrepreneurs and fashion designers to the local journalist in search of a more creative environment without restrictive closing times.

An evolution of the coffee shop culture of the 1990s, where freelancers congregated to work and commune with like-minded souls, co-working provides a more efficient environment, complete with reliable wi-fi and multiple networking possibilities. Like the advent of software-as-a-service before it, the office-as-a-service movement has become a significant aspect of the modern commercial property market, especially in dense urban locations where higher costs are driving a more efficient approach to real estate assets.

The Dublin Business Innovation Centre recently opened Space@DublinBIC, offering dedicated desks for €375 a month, a ‘hot desk’ for €200 a month or a five-day pass for €59. Amongst its facilities are 1Gb wi-fi, an on-site cafe, storage facilities and meeting rooms.

“By choosing to locate in Space, start-ups will not only benefit from being immersed in a hub of entrepreneurship, but they will also be surrounded by the supports they need to ensure their company is a success,” said Michael Culligan, chief executive of Dublin BIC. Reflecting the demand for office space in Dublin city centre, 20 private offices have already been pre-sold to companies. “In a city in which only 3% of office space is vacant and prices reaching record highs again, entrepreneurs and freelancers are finding themselves unable to access office space from which they can hire talent, scale and access customers easily. With the city centre being increasingly dominated by bigger corporates, it is important that we work hard to ensure there is a healthy ecosystem of business — large and small, established and early-stage,” Mr Culligan said.

London headquartered Huckletree is another growing co-working enterprise which has also just opened a shared space in the capital. Co-founded by Dubliner Andrew Lynch, the company’s hub on Pearse Street will accommodate up to 400 workers in a 30,000sq ft space offering dedicated and shared desks, fast wi-fi and meeting facilities.

“Our goal is to create an epicentre for entrepreneurial talent in the heart of Dublin,” said Mr Lynch. “We see it as an under-served city for co-working. Many of these spaces, having built up a strong community of like-minded co-workers, are in need of greater capacity to meet demand. These spaces are growing because they have earned a reputation as a community that people want to be a part of. It puts you side-by-side with inspirational co-workers and aligns you with partners to grow your business. We spend so much of our time at work, and now we’re realising that we actually get to choose who we spend that time with, and where.”

Following the turbulence of the global marketplace over the past decade, the growth of co-working spaces reflects, in part, the migration away from traditional corporate cultures toward more agile and independent careers in entrepreneurship and remote working. After the fallout from the global financial meltdown begun in 2007 many workers made suddenly unemployed found themselves banding together in early versions of these spaces, driven by the essentials of good coffee and high-speed wi-fi. Today, these ‘contingent’ workers account for a steadily growing sector of the workforce.


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