Coworking: Shared office spaces are on the rise
The cowork space concept is great for anyone starting out or not ready to scale up to large numbers and for the most part it’s cost effective
With its new HQ on Dame Lane, Dublin, the award-winning Fumbally Exchange is set for the next stage of its expansion. Founded in 2010, this not-for-profit organisation offers a low-cost base and collaboration opportunities for creative business. Photograph: Jason Clarke
The Vaults underneath the offices of Dogpatch Labs in the CHQ building add 8,000sq ft of event space. Above is Neville Isdell, former Coca-Cola chief executive and CHQ owner. Photograph: Dave Meehan
Starting out on your own is never easy, especially if you are trying to keep the costs down and productivity up. Working from home is your best option, or is it? I mean there is a kettle so you needn’t nip out for coffee but there are also the distractions too, the kids want to play, the hall needs painting, the car could do with a wash and who is there to bounce ideas off? The dog doesn’t seem to have all the answers.
Shared office spaces are on the rise. The cowork space concept is great for anyone starting out or not ready to scale up to large numbers and for the most part it’s cost effective too.
While renting space in the corner of someone else’s office might suit you the community created by coworking spaces is what is really holding the appeal. Not only do you get advice from your office buddies but you also feel a certain accountability to your workload, something that helped Karl O’Brien, founder of effector.ie, make the move from bedroom to shared office space last year. He says he made the move for two key reasons,
“For the sake of the business and for the sake of myself. Working where you sleep as a concept isn’t probably the best for your mental health - it gives you an excuse to have no division between work and your own life.”
Living in Swords, Co Dublin saw O’Brien use too much of his time commuting to city centre meetings slowing up his work productivity. His move to the Fumbally Exchange coworking space in Dame Lane, Dublin 2 has freed up a lot more time to dedicate to the business.
Jayne Ronayne, co-founder of KonnectAgain, is glad she chose Dogpatch Labs in the prime location, Dublin’s IFSC, when she moved to the capital.
“We were moving up from Cork and I needed office space and my friend Paddy Walsh started Dogpatch and for us it made sense, we always wanted to be around a community so we actually were the first company in Dogpatch.
“When you are a company scaling you need to be around other people to keep the motivation up and also when you have challenges you can also go and speak to other people who understand the challenges as well.”
The networking opportunities in such a place, which partners with Google and Ulster Bank, has proved eye-catching to the talent pool.
“For us it has been a key piece to attract talent. A lot of people recognise the Dogpatch brand and are very curious about it and for us it was a great way to actually get talent in, which was pretty interesting.”
Digi Wolf Ltd are based in the Guinness Enterprise Centre, Dublin and have recently made the move from shared office space to their own office within the campus. CEO Alan Grace says there are definite advantages to being on campus,
“Being on campus allows us to bring clients in for meetings and with a café on site it gives off a very professional vibe which is important. We also have great networking opportunities both to do work with other companies in the building but also access to all of their services should we need them. There is a great community spirit and lots of talks and events every month. Different meetups around tech, marketing, entrepreneurship as well as companies coming in to give free advice in all areas of business such as legal advice, financial advice, banking and lots more.”
There comes a time in the life of a business that you need to move on and with the growth of his team Grace upgraded to a private office in the GEC which better suits his current needs,
“We recently moved to our own office back in November. The team had grown and we needed some additional space for storage and a whiteboard etc. It’s also easier for us to communicate and have team meetings without feeling we are making too much noise and disturbing others in the shared space.”
It’s not just Dublin that is seeing a rise in these spaces. Coworking Ireland is a national group of independent owners of such facilities who have come together to market their idea. Spaces are available in all of Ireland’s major cities as well as more rural counties such as Kerry, Kilkenny and Sligo.
Mike Hannigan who owns Coworkinn in Sandyford, Dublin is one of the founding members of the group. “We meet about once a year but we are in contact daily through groups and so forth and the idea is we are marketing the whole coworking concept so that people come to understand what coworking is and we support ourselves.”
However it’s not only independents that are in on the action, international companies like Regus have shared office space in Dublin, Cork and Limerick and they cover 2,850 locations worldwide.
When it comes to finding office space there is certainly no shortage of it, access to Silicon Docks, excellent transport links, superfast fibre broadband, meeting rooms, cafes, restaurants, cultural attractions, all the things that start-ups and sole traders demand but where do you go if you need to park up you’re surfboard or want to take a meeting on the beach?
Barbara Hanly, founder of dog food brand Soopa, has discovered the idyllic office spaces she requires in Lahinch. Based from Coworkinn, Sandyford Dublin Hanly decided that she wanted to create the same concept in Lahinch and is opening Ocean Office Share, a new coworking space in the small costal town in county Clare.
“It’s got sea views so you can sit and work and watch the waves roll in which is just beautiful. We are right across from the beach which is just great because it means that people can work hard but play hard as well. It’s a fantastic base for anyone who enjoys the outdoors not just surfing but walking and hiking.”
Having the experience of the community in Dublin, Hanly wanted to work from the west of Ireland while continuing to have a hot desk in the Sandyford office. But going rural is not without its challenges, fibre broadband hasn’t quite reached the lengths of Lahinch yet but what’s available seems to be adequate for now.
“There’s no fibre broadband but hopefully that will happen soon. I’ve a Vodafone broadband business package and I’ve no problems yet.”
“I’ve had a lot of interest, people like graphic designers who work from home, accountants, interior designers, people that work for themselves as well as people who work for other companies.”
“We have availability for over 20 people and we have a surfboard parking station for anyone who has a surfboard they can park it up safely.”
Aside from the scenery, surfing and sea air there is one huge advantage over city office space, “you don’t have any traffic - I can walk down to the office in a matter of 3 minutes. Shannon (airport) is a 40 minute drive and parking is a lot less than Dublin.”And just one more selling point “We are open to owners who have well behaved dogs.” Where do I sign up?