Together we thrive:  the rising trend of the ‘shared workspace’

With the UK now confirmed as the ‘work from home’ capital of Europe, there is no doubt that the pandemic has reshaped how and where we work. However, studies indicate that the remote working culture can have a negative impact on our wellbeing. Clockwise – a ‘shared workspace’ facility in Manchester city centre – is trying to solve the problem, one hot desk at a time

According to a 2022 study by recruitment specialists Kadence, 81% of young people admitted fearing loneliness as a result of working from home, with 67% of 18 – 34 year-olds admitting that they already struggled to maintain friendships with colleagues due to working remotely.

Further research shows that around 80% of Brits surveyed during the pandemic agreed that feelings of isolation from working remotely had an impact on their mental health.

Although the prognosis sounds grim, Mancunians need not fear. A solution can be found at Linley House, a sleek glass building on Dickinson Street, tucked away behind Oxford Road. 

The first four floors of the building are operated by Clockwise, one of many ‘shared workspace’ providers popping up in city centres across the world, offering collaborative spaces for companies and individuals to work, network and share facilities. 

Founded in Glasgow in 2017, Clockwise launched its Manchester space in 2021. It offers a range of membership options from full-time office suites priced at £4,000 per month to £20 ‘day passes’ ideal for freelancers and independents, who can come and go as they like. 

All users of Clockwise enjoy a host of benefits including cubicles for private working, communal lounges, meeting rooms and kitchen facilities. The space has been designed to consider different working patterns, with users able to access the ‘member portal’ and all its networking opportunities.  

Alexandra Livesey, Clockwise chief operating officer, told Mancunian Matters: “Clockwise provides cleverly designed and well thought out spaces that not only champion productivity and positive workflow, but also have wellbeing and comfort at the forefront of design.”

Emphasising the brand’s focus on wellbeing, she added: “Natural daylight is optimised to aid circadian rhythms, with the addition of planting to help purify air and enhance memory retention and compassion.”

Whatever they are doing seems to be working. The concept has proved a hit in Manchester, with membership growing annually. There are currently 13 locations across the UK and four in mainland Europe, with ambitious plans to expand in the works.

On their decision to launch here, Livesey commented: “Manchester is home to a thriving community of entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing businesses so it was a natural decision for us to have a presence here.”

Maisarah Asri, an actuary at Zenith Actuarial, spends 2 – 3 days per week at Clockwise after Zenith became members in 2022. 

On her decision to forego working remotely, she said: “In a post-Covid world, we feel it’s important to have face-to-face contact. It really boosts morale when you are around other people, bouncing ideas off each other, understanding body language. It’s about human connection, and it cannot be done over Zoom.”

She added that the regular social events organised by Clockwise have proved “extremely beneficial for networking and boosting career opportunities.”

Arjun Vijay, a 30 year-old entrepreneur, became a Clockwise member after founding his company Bob Care Ltd, a recruitment agency supplying workers to the care sector, in late 2023. 

He said:  “The main benefit of this method of working is the flexibility it offers. As a founder of a start-up, it takes away a lot of headaches. I don’t have to worry about energy or water bills, I can just come and go – it works like a hotel.”

Vijay, who currently works from Clockwise “a couple of days per week,” added that he recently switched from a monthly rolling membership to an annual membership, to accommodate the rapid expansion of his company in the last 12 months.

On his decision to stay, he said: “We have expanded from 12 staff to 67 in the last year, and we have exciting growth plans. Clockwise has all the resources and the facilities under one roof to accommodate us as we move forward.”

Michael Platt, a HR manager at the University of Manchester, agrees that the ‘shared workspace’ trend is a positive shift in working culture. He said: “We believe that one of the key principles of running any successful organisation is a people-focused approach. If businesses look after people and their wellbeing, things will flourish.

“Working from home can be convenient, but the lack of socialisation can have all sorts of long-term effects which may be detrimental, such as low motivation and self-confidence issues. Shared workspaces are a great initiative that help to counteract these problems.”

He added: “The popularity of shared workspaces in the last few years speaks for itself, and we expect this trend to grow.”

Image credit: Jack Pollitt

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