Who are the real users of co-working and flexible meeting spaces? The answer may surprise you
Co-working spaces are ideal for startups. These shared spaces incubate the next generation of tech unicorns. Freelancers love them too as working in coffee shops can often be lonely and soulless. But now a new type of customer is joining the scene.
Adam Blaskey, founder of The Clubhouse, a distinctly upmarket network of business members clubs in London, insists something big is afoot. “I talk to so many people who are surprised by what we do,” he says. “They think they know what a co-working space is like, but there are so many misconceptions.”
Namely? “Our membership base is diverse and clients include wealth managers, property developers, corporate finance advisers and superyacht brokers alongside blue-chip organisations such as Morgan Stanley, KPMG, Richemont, Tesla, Pure Gym and BP,” says Mr Blaskey. “They use our meeting rooms for strategy days, investor roadshows and off-sites, and offer membership to executives who need space to think and be creative, and to meet clients in a professional, central-London location.”
This is not just startup territory; we’re talking heads of department and C-suite executives from both rapidly growing mid-sized companies and established blue chips – and demand is soaring.
It might seem odd at first. These companies have their own gleaming HQs. So why are they hooked on meeting elsewhere?
“Our space is much more innovative, flexible and productive than many offices,” says Mr Blaskey. “Sometimes it’s better for busy professionals to leave their crowded office and come somewhere they can concentrate, and quite often even the largest companies run out of meeting rooms.”
Before co-working and on-demand flexible meeting spaces existed, these high fliers resorted to cafés and hotel lobbies.
“Even the most successful, global businesses found their senior leaders were heading to Starbucks to work or meet clients,” says Mr Blaskey. “These companies have started to ask themselves whether it’s right for their best people, those on a six-figure salary, to meet in a coffee shop or get a laptop out? Obviously not.
We don’t just provide a place to meet and work, but everything a business needs without the cost
“So now they come to The Clubhouse instead where we offer much more productive and professional surroundings with a dedicated team on hand to attend to every need. We don’t just provide a place to meet and work, but everything a business needs without the cost.”
Other blue chips use their membership as “office-space-as-a-service”, removing the need for their own central-London office altogether. They locate in larger, less expensive offices outside London and use The Clubhouse as a home from home. “It’s a powerful proposition,” says Mr Blaskey. “Fast-growing companies never know what their headcount is going to be in two years’ time. So why lease a central-London office and find it’s not right? We offer a flexible space which can grow or contract as you need.”
When Mr Blaskey opened his first Clubhouse in Mayfair in 2012, he anticipated interest from customers used to the very best working environments. So the meeting rooms are opulent and a cut above normal business spaces. There’s a Clublounge for relaxed meetings, and a front-of-house team handle requests, such as catering for meetings, couriers, printing and PA services. A good number of members have also reported that the environment offered has oiled the wheels of some major deals and contract wins.
A second Clubhouse opened in St James’s and recently a third opened its doors in the heart of the City. The Clubhouse, Bank is one minute’s walk from Bank tube and is ideal for companies looking for a base in the Square Mile. Again, the location is tailored for the most fastidious and demanding of customers.
Members enjoy stunning panoramic views over the financial district, and have access to a private roof terrace and roof garden. As in Mayfair and St James’s, there are hot desks, flexible meeting areas, a range of meeting rooms and a relaxed Clublounge for catching up with clients, friends or colleagues. A creative space with an innovative interactive video wall, called The Greenhouse, is perfect for creative sessions and thinking outside the box strategy days
A fourth Clubhouse will open nearby in the first quarter of 2018. “We are creating a network,” says Mr Blaskey. “So you’ve always got somewhere to go wherever you want to meet clients in London.”
The arrival of established businesses means the demographic profile of members is a touch older than you might expect. A recent survey by The Clubhouse identifies that 60 per cent are over 40. A statistic which may surprise many who think co-working is all about trendy millennials working on their startup.
Which isn’t to say that startups are absent. The Clubhouse is home to a number of ambitious young companies, including Airportr, Gustare Honey and The New Craftsmen. But they are now working shoulder to shoulder with elite bankers, corporate finance advisers, head-hunters and chief executives.
The trend suits all parties. Startups want somewhere fit for their growth plans and established companies want to regain an entrepreneurial vibe. Co-working is fuelling a new way of thinking about work. It’s turning executives into entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs into high-calibre executives.
In 2008, the financial crisis meant a lot of professionals realised they weren’t going to be secure in their jobs or remunerated as before. At the same time, it was the dawn of a technological revolution, with cloud storage, smartphones, tablets and apps to make it easy to work from anywhere. The only thing that was missing was a smarter, more flexible way of working and now there is – The Clubhouse.
To find out more please visit theclubhouselondon.com