Craig Weise is a managing director at Armillary Private Capital. He predominantly works from the company's office in Wellington, but also regularly works from the Auckland city coworking space Alike, where Armillary's Auckland office is housed.
Why did you choose to set up the Auckland office for your business in a coworking space?
We saw being located in a coworking space as a good opportunity to have a workspace that was professionally managed and that had some other people around, so our staff there - we currently have two permanent Auckland employees - wouldn't be lonely. And it would also allow members of our Wellington team to work alongside our people in Auckland when they were up. We have a private office within Alike, but when we have an overflow of staff we're able to also move into the shared workspace. That gives us a nice balance between the desire to have a social work setting and our need for privacy and confidentiality within our business.
When we were considering opening our Auckland office we also knew we were going to be growing our team there over a period of time, but we didn't know at what sort of pace that would occur. It's hard to gauge how long it will take us to get the right people on board, and being in a coworking space gives us a lot more flexibility and makes more sense from a resource point of view than getting our own space that's initially too big and half empty.
How do you find shifting between working in your permanent office and a coworking space?
When I'm in Auckland I'm mainly out in meetings, but when I'm in the coworking space I do find it similar to my normal office environment. Our Wellington office is an open work environment where we work as a joint team, so a coworking space is like our normal operating space. I think more generally people have become accustomed to working in open, shared environments and maybe that's one of the reasons coworking is catching on to the extent it is.
Also, when you're flying in for business it really helps to know your workspace is functional. You're on a busy schedule and you don't have time to run out and get paper for a copier, for example, so that's an important benefit.
Do you find you still have a chance to engage in the social or networking aspects of being in a coworking space when you're there part time?
There are opportunities, but I think my colleagues who are permanently there pick those up more. They're harder to pick up on when you're going in and out, and if I didn't have permanent colleagues based there I think I'd probably be more active in collaborating with other coworkers.
But I do know our permanent staff really enjoy the feeling of camaraderie with some of the other businesses located there and I think there are opportunities that are emerging collectively and being discussed between the businesses. Sometimes those are small things, like sharing knowledge of a good service provider, but sometimes they're deeper and lead to true revenue generating opportunities.
Are there any rules of coworking etiquette you've picked up?
I think good coworking etiquette is just good etiquette generally. The rules of common courtesy apply, although you do have be a bit more diligent in terms of booking shared spaces or refilling the coffee if you're the one to finish it off.
You also do need to be considerate of the work cycles of your colleagues, because while you might be feeling social someone else can be doing something critical, and the situation might soon be reversed. People also do have different standards as to what is appropriate to share, and I think you have to be particularly diligent about that when you're talking about commercial matters.
Lastly, I'd say don't assume all your customers and stakeholders are as comfortable in a shared space as you are. If someone turns up for an important meeting with you, take them straight into a boardroom to make it clear that discretion is important, rather than leaving them standing around a whole lot of people they don't know to discuss something sensitive.