Kassandra is a talented young goldsmith whose unique bespoke jewellery has featured in national magazines, but like many sole traders, she struggles to find a place for office admin. “I can’t do my marketing and accounts from my workshop, and if I work at my kitchen table I feel like a hermit.” With increasing numbers of people setting up businesses from home, finding the right environment that feels comfortable for work is a growing concern.
Areaworks (the coworking arm of The Nao Group) offers Kassandra a solution. “I get the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs, get things done, and I feel I actually have some distance between my job and my home life,” she says.
Panny Lawrence, founder and chief executive of Nao, says: “We spotted a gap in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the UK, with a focus on the underserved London zones 2-5.”
Nao seeks to offer “physical and social infrastructure for entrepreneurs, SMEs, freelancers, and individual professionals,” says Mr Lawrence, with convenient access to a range of resources that they need to progress their businesses.
Entrepreneurship is booming in the UK and so, too, is remote working, whether as a main source of employment or as a “side hustle”, with non-standard employment relying on flexible work spaces and communities infrastructure.
Shared access to digital resources has levelled the playing field and allowed many small businesses to steal a march on more established competitors without investing in the premises, computing hardware and more that has historically been a prerequisite of any new business.
“The evolving workforce and workplace in the UK (and globally), is confirming that new types of office-working models are taking hold,” says Jude Bance, Areaworks’ commercial director. “Coworking and flexible office space is a high-growth sector. In fact, it is the fastest growing subsector of the real estate market today and has flourished in recent years as the market looks for more innovative, vibrant and cost-effective alternatives.”
Lawrence says that Nao is ready to take advantage of the boom time. “In 2018, the number of members using a coworking space globally has grown by 33pc. The number of coworking spaces is 19,000 – an increase of 21 pc. And the forecast for coworking is at a healthy growth rate of 15pc over the next five years.”
If anything, his main concern is keeping up with demand. “This huge growth in flexible and shared work spaces is reflective of the trends in the British economy, with the growing economic importance of SMEs and start-up sector in our country,” he says. “The future is clearly heading to a more flexible, on-demand and short-term arrangement for an increasing demographic.”
Showcasing British business
The Great British Business campaign is giving the country’s most exciting growing businesses a share of the limelight. Here, we met Panny Lawrence of The Nao Group.
For more information, visit naogroup.com