Devon Work Hubs wins prestigious business award

Devon County Council has been recognised for its work to help small businesses across the region flourish.

Devon Work Hubs, the council’s network of business work spaces, scooped the ‘Best provision of small business offices for upscale and growing businesses’ award at the recent Federation of Small Businesses Awards.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said:
“Advancements in technology, rising transport costs and quality of life factors are changing the way people work.
“Here in Devon, around 20 percent of workers are now based at home, some of them running small businesses that started from spare rooms and kitchen tables.
“These businesses are really important in helping maintain and grow our successful and sustainable local economy, and we want to help them thrive
“Often the initial move into office accommodation is difficult because they cannot afford to be tied down to a long-term contract, but Devon Work Hubs offer an attractive solution. Run by local business people, they provide inexpensive, flexible term office space, equipped with facilities that modern businesses need to grow, network and collaborate alongside like-minded people.
“Our existing hubs are seeing plenty of start-up businesses, who come to them with just a handful of staff, outgrow the work hub accommodation as they take on more employees and require larger work premises, which is excellent.
“This success means we are now working on expanding the network and recently invited organisations to bid for capital grants of up to £20,000 to support the creation of work hubs in new locations across Devon.
“I am pleased that this award recognises our commitment to supporting small businesses and encouraging them to grow and prosper in Devon.”

Amelia Isaac of the Design Shop also runs Barnstaple’s Work Hub. She said:
“The hubs are providing work spaces with meeting rooms for the day, but added to that is the enormous benefit that workers experience in meeting, chatting and swapping ideas with other business people working from the hub.
“There’s nothing better than seeing a new business come to us and within a few years they’re moving on as they require larger premises and take on more employees. And they make room for another worker coming in and we see that person’s business grow too. It’s good to have played a part in that growth.”

Local firm Ewemove Barnstaple is a hybrid estate agency that sells and manages properties across North Devon. Ewemove’s Branch Director, Russell Burrington, said:
“Having started the business working from home in our spare bedroom, moving to Barnstaple Work Hub just over 12 months ago has allowed my business to flourish and I am now at the stage where I am looking to expand my workforce and upsize my office space. Not only has it given my company a more professional look but I have made some excellent connections here and it is a vibrant and busy place to work in.”

Spring Funding Competition now open!

Devon County Council is announcing the next phase of expansion to a network of business work spaces, which is helping to boost the county’s productivity.

Around 20 percent of Devon workers are working from home, some of them small businesses that started from spare rooms and kitchen tables, and many are looking to move into larger office accommodation.
Work hubs are the answer, providing flexible term office space, equipped with facilities that modern businesses need. And Devon County Council wants there to be more of them.

Those in Totnes, Tavistock and Barnstaple, and associate hubs in Exeter, East Budleigh and Torquay, are seeing steady throughput as start-up firms, coming to them with fewer than a handful of staff, are outgrowing work hub accommodation as they take on more employees and require larger work premises.

They’re run by local business people, and can be a more attractive proposition for people looking for short term and inexpensive office space.

Devon County Council plans to expand the work hub network further with hubs in possibly three more towns. Businesses and entrepreneurs can apply for grants of up to £20,000 per hub, to help the council develop the hubs. Free support for businesses with the application is available.

Councillor Stuart Barker, the Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for economic growth, said:
“As a former small business owner myself I know how important good accommodation is to the success of a business. It needs the right equipment and technology, the right facilities, be in a good location, and it needs to be affordable. “Work hubs are providing that, and they’re giving small to medium sized businesses in Devon access to accommodation on short term contracts that can otherwise be difficult to find at the right cost.”
Businesses testify to the work hub success.

Local firm Ewemove Barnstaple is a hybrid estate agency that sells and manages properties across North Devon. They’ve recently been shortlisted in the North Devon Journal’s Business Awards for Best Customer Service.

Ewemove’s Branch Director, Russell Burrington, said:
“Having started the business working from home in our spare bedroom, moving to Barnstaple Work Hub just over 12 months ago has allowed my business to flourish and I am now at the stage where I am looking to expand my workforce and upsize my office space. Not only has it given my company a more professional look but I have made some excellent connections here and it is a vibrant and busy place to work in. “We are very proud to have been shortlisted for North Devon Journal Business Awards in the category of Best Customer Service.”

Amelia Isaac of the Design Shop also runs Barnstaple’s Work Hub. She says:
“The hubs are providing work spaces with meeting rooms for the day, but added to that is the enormous benefit that workers experience in meeting, chatting and swapping ideas with other business people working from the hub.
“There’s nothing better than seeing a new businesses come to us and within a few years they’re moving on as they require larger premises and take on more employees. And they make room for another worker coming in and we see that person’s business grow too. It’s good to have played a part in that growth.”

The Council is inviting expressions of interests to apply for work hub funding by midnight on Wednesday 30 May.
For more information and guidance, and to download an application form, please visit the work hubs website, www.devonworkhubs.co.uk.

Autumn 2016 Funding

 

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Thinking of converting idle space into a work hub? Like the idea of bringing new people and energy together? And generate some extra revenue?

Apply for Work Hub Funding

For more information click here.

Applicants must register their intention to bid by 5pm on Friday 30th September 2016 (by emailing: Katherine.Coby@Devon.gov.uk). The deadline for completed applications is 5pm on Friday 21st October 2016.

Blog: Working from home, the work hub, or the office?

Today is #NationalWorkFromHomeDay. It’s a Work Wise UK initiative “to promote modern ‘smarter’ working practices such as agile, flexible, remote and mobile working, as well as working from home”. They argue that the UK needs to work smarter:

“Changing outdated working practices and implementing a Smarter Working strategy provides a real opportunity for Employers to build and retain skills, to give serious thought to the dilemmas of youth unemployment and an aging population and to then set the road map for real work force transformation, creating benefits for our workplace and society.”

While it might seem counter intuitive for Devon Work Hubs to promote a day for homeworking, their focus on smarter flexible working is closely aligned with our ethos. Devon Work Hubs was developed to offer the people of Devon “an office when needed”. In Devon it is estimated that there are 86,000 home-based workers, many of whom experience the downsides of homeworking as well as the positives.

On this day to celebrate working from home, a lot of people have been sharing a 2010 article by Edward Collier, in which he argues that “It’s time to stop the schlep to work” . He points out that teleworking has never been easier thanks to the increasing availability of fast internet connection from home and the willingness of managers to see homeworking as a solution to tight budgets and limited space. Despite the increasing opportunity for many to work from home, the pitfalls of working exclusively from home remain and are increased if you are self-employed. While getting out of the overcrowded office was the priority of 2010, in 2015 89% of businesses in the South West were micro businesses. These businesses have differnent challenges and a significant proportion of these businesses are based in homes.

Melissa Talago, founder of Campfire Communications, told the Guardian “I felt really frazzled amid the clutter so in a fit of pique I dismantled the spare bed and claimed the guest room as Campfire Communications”. For her the solution to homeworking chaos was to create a space within her home just for working, but many just don’t have that option.

There is an increasing understanding that not only does your space impact your productivity, but that what works best one day might not be what is best the next day. Suzanne Bearne compared different locations to work, trying out a coffee shop, a work hub, a private club, a landmark and her own flat. Each had their own benefits and distractions, and it is clear that she has worked out which spaces are suited to her different styles of working.

So if you love the flexibility of working from home, but yearn for some company, some structure or maybe just faster broadband, the answer could be a flexible hot desk at a Devon Work Hub. All our work hubs offer flexible desks and offices as and when required, and there is no need for a long-term commitment. Find out where your nearest hub is here.

 

Thanks to @sblandfo for the image!

 

Blog: How far would you travel for coworking?

One of the best things about using a work hub is the flexibility. This means different things to different people, for some it’s the flexibility to work at a time that suits them, to use the facilities of an office only when needed or to work in an environment that suits their way of working.

The increasing availability of coworking retreats is an example of not only the spread of work hubs globally, but also suggests that the space in which we work in impacts how we work. A coworking retreat offers an immersive experience, and they are often marketed towards start ups.

Startup Basecamp has locations in San Francisco, Montreal and Brussels with more on the way. Here you can combine coworking with coliving, and they boast that you can “Hit the office as soon as you wake up”. Coworking giant WeWork recently opened 45 apartments in the same building as one of their hubs. There is a risk however that in this kind of environments, sleep will take a back seat, James Routeledge argued that ‘”Sleep faster” culture puts  entrepreneurs’ mental health at risk’.

This combination of a working and living space doesn’t seem strange to anyone who has ever worked from home, but the key difference is being surrounded by other workers and other small businesses. Perhaps it is that difference that is leading to significant investments into coliving spaces. The Harvard Business Review argued that people thrive in Coworking spaces because “Working amidst people doing different kinds of work can also make one’s own work identity stronger”.

Capture The works torbayBut is there a way to get the benefits of a coworking retreat without the bed-to-office intensity and without the package deal? I would say absolutely! Devon is a hugely popular destination for tourists, with great travel links and a wide variety of options for accommodation. There are Devon work hubs in a number of beautiful market and coastal towns, with more opening soon. Each hub offers flexible memberships and daily hot-desking, as well as free coffee and wifi. Just look at this view from @theworkstorbay and tell me that’s not inspiring.

Maybe a trip to Devon, and a Devon Work Hub, would make all the difference to your business.

Image credits: Visit Devon and  The Works Torbay

Apply for Work Hub Funding

Thinking of converting idle space into a work hub? Like the idea of bringing new people and energy together? And generate some extra revenue?

Apply for Work Hub Funding

For more information click here.

Applicants must register their intention to bid by noon on Friday 13th May 2016 (by emailing: Katherine.Coby@Devon.gov.uk). The deadline for completed applications is noon on Friday 24th June 2016.