Everyone will have a different view on this, but for us, our background was from large publishing companies where growth and innovation had suffered. It was miserable. We didn’t want to repeat that, so as a creative technology and content agency, we looked to co-working spaces, where we could be in among hopefully like-minded people who all wanted to build something great.
But also, who would also be facing similar challenges in that mission, so could bash heads together to help solve them. And crucially, our agency We Did That works with new startups and technologies, so we needed to be right in amongst all that. Co-working made complete sense.
Well it was brand new, which helped! And the location on the South Bank – and being by the Thames and its iconic buildings like Sea Containers House and the OXO Tower – was spot on for us, particularly as the area is a growing community of creatives just like us. We can also use WeWork’s other locations as they launch – Soho’s just launching now, so that’ll be handy.
The flexibility also helped galvanise the decision. If we choose to expand or even move elsewhere, we can do so without getting caught out with annual contract penalties. That’s a major factor. Another factor was, weirdly, dogs. We’ve got them, loads of office spaces in London don’t want them. WeWork’s canine-friendly! Plus: free coffee and free beer? Couldn’t really say no, could we?
Again, having endured company culture where innovation and creativity is stifled, there was a big attraction to co-working. We’ve made some great new friends here and there are always new faces to get to know. People’s backgrounds as well – absolutely fascinating. There’s never a dull moment when you’re wandering out to make a coffee or grabbing a beer!
You might get the same in traditional offices, but generally within your desk group, or your own department. Here, you tend to meet everybody. And it’s a surprising mix across all ages. It’s great.
Our clients are always interested to “pop across” the water and see what all the fuss is about here on the South Bank, and they’re always wowed – and then they want us to sign them in so they can work here. We Did That has also benefited from several collaborations already, on both smaller projects and bigger commissions. One of those took us into an entirely new sector, which we’d probably never have considered had we not been here.
All the usual challenges and problems from any office exist here, too – it’s a myth that the co-working is some sort of perfect society. Really Loud Or Really Miserable Office Guy You Find Really Annoying™ - he’s here, too! Co-working printers: a whole new world of pain. And the WeWork app is, shall we say, a work in progress.
But the greatest challenge has probably been extracting a perfectly-poured beer from the taps – the gas mix is out and I fear the Yanks just have no idea how a proper pint is supposed to look outside of a bottle. First world problems.
Our clients are certainly attracted to it – if getting rid of them after a meeting is anything to go by, we’ll have no problem when it comes to our next hire.
What practical tips, advice or considerations would you share with other business owners considering moving to a co-working space?
If it’s a WeWork space, our only advice is do it. The flexibility affords you the option of going elsewhere at a month’s notice if you don’t take to it, so it’s a win-win.
Don’t bother searching too long because there’s no such thing as the perfect co-working space. Find something that suits your needs as a business – or the very best compromise – drill them for the very best deal and get going.
Spend your funding on developing the product, and retaining a fantastic creative and content agency like We Did That to help you! Right now it’s not so much about where you work as the amazing things you’re going to accomplish.
We Did That clients include Unilever, The Unilever Foundry, JUST EAT, Audi and Diageo. The agency works with startups of all sizes on messaging, content, creative execution and brand partnerships. You can engage with the startup by following them on Twitter.