Trend-spotting: co-working

Co-working-spaces are a growing trend in Sweden. These days we don’t just want to rent a desk in a co-working hub; we want to become members of social and preferably international office networks. This is how it works.

In the sharing economy that’s emerging around the world, the concept of co-working has also spread. According to Swedish business journal Veckans Affärer, in the US alone, the trend is growing by more than 100 per cent every year.

The concept has now taken off as a way of working in Sweden. United Spaces is part of an international network of 200 workspaces around the world, most of them in Europe. Stockholm has these spaces in the Waterfront Building.

PR agency Amazing Alice opted for co-working

PR agency Amazing Alice is a member here and the company rents an office room in the, to say the least, striking central building.

“We decided to set up in a co-working office because it makes it easier for us to grow without having to make any major investments,” explains the company’s founder, Linda Bühlmann. “We don’t need to sign long, costly leases while we’re in the process of developing the company.”

Adaptable and convenient

It’s difficult to find good, adaptable office premises, particularly for small companies and startups. So the flexible nature of a co-working office appeals, besides the convenience of someone else managing the IT, cleaning and everything else that’s included in the rent.

“The main thing is it’s a representative and accessible venue for meeting clients and partners,” says Linda Bühlmann. The challenge is getting used to the business model; the fact that all optional extras are in addition to the basic rent. For example, it costs extra to book a conference room.

Effective solution for growing companies

Linda Bühlmann emphasises the advantages of co-working for a company that is in a growth phase. The social aspect that membership brings is clearly a huge asset if you work a lot with other companies.

“What we perhaps miss sometimes is having our own offices featuring interior design that reflects our brand,” she says. “I think this way of working puts quite a bit of pressure on our internal corporate culture, as we can’t put our own stamp on the office in the form of decor or music, for example. We just have to work a little harder to maintain our culture.”

Trend among big companies as well

Co-working company Summit has noticed that big companies are also picking up on the trend.

“We get lots of enquiries from companies that used to want their own offices,” says Patrik Åström, Summit’s CEO. “The changing times we’re living in now mean we need to be flexible, and companies don’t want to feel tied down.”

Opportunities

Fabege also see opportunities in co-working.

“We’re looking at what ideas might be interesting for us to put into effect,” says Anna-Lena Carlstedt, Business Developer at Fabege. “It’s definitely a model that’s attractive to certain types of company and it’s a clear trend in the sharing economy.” 

This is co-working

– A kind of office hotel that is often membership-based. The most common form is short-term rental (by the hour, day or month), but there are also more permanent solutions available.

– A flexible solution for small companies and startups that don’t yet know how much space they may need in future.

– Membership usually gives access to events and other social functions where members can network.

– The Palaver app is another variant of co-working. You check in to a connected café, restaurant or hotel using your mobile and you get a workspace that may also include coffee and snacks and other services at times when there are few guests. Working guests get a convenient place to work and the café owner gains new customers, and income.

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