What's with this co-working thing?
Have you ever gone to your local library to do some work, catch up, have a meeting or learn something new? If you have, you've experienced co-working.
Libraries are the original co-working spaces, with the flexibility and diversity of the environment supporting people to get stuff done. Co-working has evolved from the library, and in the age of digital nomads, the gig economy, and the like, co-working is an international phenomenon. Companies such as WeWork lead the international movement, with WeWork having a valuation of roughly US$47 billion ($71.1) and a managed 930,000sq m of office space globally.
Here in Northland, co-working is taking off. There are a number of spaces around the region, with more proposed.
I'm very proud of our co-working space, The Orchard. The Orchard was launched in 2017 and has created a focal point for business support in the region.
Acknowledged by Economic Development New Zealand with an award for Best Practice Integrated Strategic Planning, our space is more than just a shared office, or the library.
Our space is designed to allow you to gain and share knowledge from others and to build community around yourself and your business.
A key finding of our space is that it needs to be built by the community for the community. We started with the premise that running a business is hard, support from like-minded aspirational people and access to the right tool-kit can lessen the challenge of growing a business.
Having a community to engage and be part of also removed the isolation many small business owners experience and allowed for more collaborative activities.
Our community is more than just the people working from desks. Sharing and learning from others is a key function of success and we purposely developed the event side of The Orchard.
I liken it to the heartbeat of our space: It provides momentum and fresh inputs to keep our environment dynamic and alive, it provides inspiration and connection and, since its launch, we've had more than 8000 people attend events at The Orchard with speakers presenting on several diverse and fascinating topics.
The culture is conducive to the serendipitous interactions that create innovation, allowing different people with unique skills and talents to connect and collaborate.
One of the advantages of a co-working space is the ability to rent out only what you need instead of an entire private office space, which can be costly.
With various membership-based models, costs vary and allow for flexibility. These include options for daily or monthly fees and membership costs differ based on whether you use a shared desk or want a dedicated one. Wi-Fi and other amenities are built in. And one of the benefits we've found is the variety of leftover catering from events!
After almost 10 months away from the original Orchard site, we're all really pleased to be shifting back. While we've been away, the building has been earthquake strengthened and we've added in new meeting rooms. These new spaces will allow for us to accommodate a wider variety of events and meetings within our modern facilities. We've also finally got the building signage completed so it's easier to find us.
If you want to learn more, and be inspired at the same time, come and find us, have a look and strike up a conversation. Our co-working space allows for freedom and mobility to get what you need, when you need it, to support your business to grow. We look forward to seeing you soon.
* Joseph Stuart is Northland Inc general manager - Business Innovation and Growth.