How serviced offices in London are helping the ‘adhocracy’

The Gig Economy sparks plenty of debate in the capital, but for those working in the ‘adhocracy’, serviced offices in London are helping to support sole workers and microbusinesses, new start-ups, and anyone affected by the city’s office space crunch.

In a recent article for Work Design Magazine, Kay Sargent of global design and architecture firm HOK explained that countries all over the world are becoming adhocracies, especially in Asia as economies there move away from being purely industrial.

“The new entrepreneurial spirit in the East is fuelling the rapid growth of many start-up companies that need to enable quick, seamless deployment of their services or creation of their products,” she wrote. “Their hunger for easy access to highly flexible space is fuelling the growth of co-working spaces and fully equipped serviced offices.”

Closer to home, London is witnessing a similar trend, but for different reasons, as the restricted availability of business space is leading to an increase in co-working and serviced offices in communal buildings.

“There’s a major space crunch in London, where the market is being heavily impacted by an influx of creative office start-ups and co-working spaces,” Ms Sargent noted.

How do serviced offices in London help business space go further?

Serviced offices in London give small businesses the opportunity to establish a base in a location that might otherwise not be a realistic option for a sole trader or microbusiness, such as our own shared offices near Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs.

The increased use of shared offices helps London business space to go further in a number of ways:

  • Occupants only rent what they need, so there is less excess space left empty and unused.
  • Shared reception areas, kitchen facilities and breakout rooms are more space-efficient.
  • Meeting rooms can be rented as needed, again reducing rooms left empty day upon day.

With the option to expand into larger serviced office space as your company grows, it’s a future-proof way of working that means you only need to rent the space you need, from a single room for one or two people, up to a larger open-plan office floor with networking for multiple workstations.

Why choose serviced office space in London?

Although the Gig Economy is a relatively new buzz term, London has been spearheading flexible working for many years – it even formed part of the preparations for the London 2012 Olympics.

In order to reduce congestion around the Olympic Park, workers in the area were encouraged to adopt flexible working practices if possible in the run-up to the Games, and this proved to be a huge success.

Ms Sargent added in her article that the effort actually led to a drop in congestion during Olympic events as businesses’ flexible working more than offset the rise in tourists and spectators.

With our own serviced offices located just south of the Olympic Park and adjacent to Canary Wharf, we are proud to be able to support the need for serviced office space in London and continue to deliver on the flexibility and efficiency lessons of London 2012 and the rise of the global adhocracy.

Do digital businesses need physical meeting rooms?

With more and more digital businesses doing the bulk of their work online and on computers, how do you know if physical meeting rooms could still help to boost your productivity and employee collaboration?

One digital business provides a better benchmark than most. IBM, whose new Studio opened at their London Southbank head office in 2015, invested $100 million globally into developing new methods of working and new modern workspaces to facilitate that work.

Yet look at it on paper and the IBM Studio looks a lot like many shared office spaces:

  • Breakout spaces for informal collaboration.
  • Separate meeting rooms for more private discussions.
  • Relaxation areas with ping pong tables.

So how do these physical meeting rooms and other collaborative spaces help a digital business like IBM to be more productive than if teams were to collaborate solely online?

Fast and flexible

In a conference paper due to be presented in January 2019, Joao Porto De Albuquerque of the University of Warwick and co-authors look at the working practices used in the IBM Studio, and find some interesting characteristics in the way the physical and virtual worlds interact.

For example, the study notes that IBM Studio’s virtual collaboration tools are laid out in a way that reflects the physical workspace, with groups for each team that shares a physical desk in real life, supported by public and private threads that resemble the breakout spaces and meeting rooms.

The teams also favour face-to-face meetings for faster and more flexible collaboration, including:

  • Informal ‘stand-up’ meetings in the morning to discuss the day’s itinerary.
  • Ad hoc brainstorming sessions attended by anyone who happens to be available.
  • Sketching sessions where plans are put down on paper before being transferred to the virtual space.

One IBM Designer tells the researchers: “Typically we will start with sketches and talk through them so we can iterate quickly. Sketching is much faster than working on a computer; you can work through problems faster by drawing it out and talking about it.”

Councils of war

An even more dramatic finding of the study comes when looking at ‘ephemeral’ use of physical meeting space, for example in response to a major problem such as a flaw in computer programming code.

Here, the IBM Studio team abandon their other work to attend a ‘War Room’ scenario, clustered around a shared display in close physical proximity – again, something a meeting room with audiovisual presentation equipment is ideally suited to achieve.

“In this case, the digital tools and space operated in sync to support quick reaction and immediacy in discussion and focused observation of the problem,” the researchers add.

The conclusion is clear – whether for everyday digital activities or in response to a major problem, physical meeting rooms provide a space for fast, flexible collaboration in a way that cannot yet be fully replicated online, giving digital businesses the best of both worlds to get the job done.

Find out more about our serviced offices and meeting rooms in London by calling the Serviced Office Company on 0800 319 6600 or email davenport@servicedofficecompany.co.uk to enquire about our premises at Davenport House on the Isle of Dogs.