Co-working office structure offers opportunity for independent brokers

by Mackenzie McCarty31 Jan 2013

Picture this: It’s a typical day at work. You arrive at your desk, sip your morning coffee and rub the grit out of your eyes. You’re surrounded by the usual hubbub of the office environment – phone calls, chit-chat, printers whirring.

Only, instead of other mortgage brokers or admin staff, you’re seated next to a landscape photographer. In front of you sits a freelance writer, typing away on her latest story. There's no boss, no receptionist and you are in charge of nobody but yourself and your clients.

You are a co-worker; otherwise known as one who works in a ‘collaborative space’. The desk you’re sitting at is one you’ve ‘rented’ for the day, the week, or on a permanent basis. Instead of slouching in a home office, with half your brain focused on work and the other half gazing disgruntledly at the front lawn badly in need of a mowing, you’ve reached a happy medium – an office space filled with a pick-n-mix of creatives, professionals and entrepreneurs.

The co-working office model is a growing phenomenon. A few days ago, The Australian’s Besa Deda reported that the co-working ‘movement’ has roughly doubled in size each year since 2006.

“In fact, it is estimated that more than 2,000 co-working spaces have opened across the world, including nearly 800 in the US, a 250% increase since 2010, according to DeskMag, an online magazine about co-working.”

While some collaborative work spaces are dedicated facilities, others are actually set up within a standard company office. Macquarie Bank, for instance, has adopted co-working practices within its workplaces.

Karen James, who manages co-working office Protein Studio in Surry Hills, Sydney, says the model provides a variety of benefits.

“We first developed the co-working studio for a number of reasons: to surround ourselves with like-minded people, and to hopefully bounce ideas off and aid in business problems. It was a way to keep the working space fresh and exciting.”

James says the office is made up of many different types of people, from small companies to freelancers and workers from established companies to start-ups.

“We have a variety of people using Protein, from six small businesses (some of those start-ups), with three or more staff and then we have individual freelancers using hot desks [desks that are rented by the day].  People can choose a desk if we have a few available, but we do have allocated areas they are positioned in.”

She says the environment differs from a standard office because you have a number of companies who are there for different reasons, which gives users resources from all aspects of business that may be of use in helping you improve your own.

“Many of my co-workers have come from home and have benefited by being in an office environment, helping them be more productive during the day.  In addition I would imagine that in a co-working environment it would be a good place for mortgage brokers to come into contact with clients or possible clients.”

She says many people who use collaborative work spaces report feeling more motivated, as well.

“Our co-workers have said that they are far more productive inside a co-working space, as they are amongst other productive people. Conversation gives birth to new ideas and new ways of looking at your day-to-day exploits.”

If you’re interested in visiting a co-working space or finding out more about the office model, doing a quick Google search will turn up any collaborative offices in your area.