If you answered a resounding “Yusss!”to the former, you might well have caught the wave of co-working mania that’s blazing a trail through our big cities, not just in New York and London, but here in New Zealand and over the ditch in Australia, where, in fact, there is the largest number of co-working spaces per capita in the world. If you answered ‘Yes’ to the latter question, it looks like co-working might just be the shot in the arm you need!

Mobility & Connectivity

Looking back only a few years, it’s clear that greater mobility and connectivity have made us all more flexible in our attitudes to work and the workplace, in every respect. When you consider how tied we all were in the eighties and nineties – to our desks, to our cubicles, to our immediate colleagues, it seems nowadays, there’s no end to the places we can work – at cafés, on planes and even at the beach, resulting in more creativity, more productivity and more accountability than ever before. Freed from doing exactly the same thing, in the same place, every single day, our workforces are excited and exciting.

So how does co-working actually work?

Fledgling co-working companies initially offered a simple premise of a work area for a monthly fee – whether that area was a hot-desk, a regular, dedicated desk or a private office. Access to the usual non-portable office equipment, such as printers, somewhere to make refreshments and conference rooms was a given, but now the interest in co-working has increased so much that established operators are coming up with ‘must-have’ incentives to impress potential members, evolving their offerings to attract the most discerning crowd, among whom the cross-fertilisation of ideas will bear the best fruit.  Community and vibes are everything – so masterminding the right combination of businesses and personalities is not left to chance – some places even have dedicated community managers to ensure the right connection is achieved.

Where did it start?

Adam Neumann, co-founder of WeWork – the current global leader of the co-working movement, claims his aim from humble beginnings in a single Manhattan office in 2010 was to help people “make a life, not just a living”. And, when you consider it, this is entirely possible when the borders between work and play, career and leisure, become blurred as they have, thanks to technology and rising entrepreneurship. Today, WeWork has a membership of over 50,000 like-minded people, in 294 co-working spaces in 61 cities throughout the world, and it’s growing fast, striking a chord among open-minded people, particularly Millennials. It seems to be the way of the future, the new normal. People are working increasingly independently, but it can be hard to be creative alone in a vacuum. The benefit of even spending one day a week among others can be incredibly rewarding and productive. Suddenly, ideas can be bounced around with those who have a different perspective, and their creators can have fun while still getting things accomplished.

“People are more productive when they’re alone, but they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together,” comments Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo. “Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.” And, this is what co-working has engendered – a sense of belonging and collaboration that’s taking the world of work by storm.

New Zealand mirrors the global movement

In Auckland, co-working is mirroring what’s happening globally. Over the past five years, the number of co-working operators has risen from three to 13, and the office space occupied has grown almost ten-fold. This is not surprising, as in Auckland, like the US, around 21% of the workforce is self-employed, and this looks set to increase as Millennials flood the workforce. Most of the co-working spaces in NZ’s largest city are around the Harbourside/Viaduct area, thanks to its range of amenities and transport hubs, but there’s a range of locations, quality and facilities, which are reflected in the monthly rates. The redevelopment of the Wynyard Quarter will secure Auckland’s position as a centre for high-tech business as well as Research & Development in the Asia-Pacific region.

In Christchurch, too, co-working is on the increase. Not the size of Auckland by any means, but it still has around ten co-working spaces, one of the newest being Evil Genius Bar & Lair. Ergostyle came across the co-working concept like a number of companies who were forced out of their usual office space as a result of the earthquakes. In looking for a temporary place to work from, we came across the concept and decided to give it a go. The rest, as they say, is history. Evil Genius is a consolidation of all we had enjoyed at our interim co-working space. The difference being that a bar/restaurant is attached, with all the opportunities that offers for collaboration, collegial cross-pollination and fun.

Everything is possible, so if you’d like to talk to me more about co-working opportunities either in general or here at Evil Genius, I’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch with me: clinton@ergostyle.co.nz and come and see what we’re all about.