While co-working spaces are nothing new, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for one to stand out from the crowd. Work Club, a series of shared working spaces in Sydney, Melbourne, London and Copenhagen, is one of these outliers. Launched with the goal to create ideal conditions for innovation, disruption, creativity and reflection, Work Club is a hub for individuals and groups who understand and embrace the blurred lines between work, play and everything in between.
Beyond the space, Work Club is developing a new collaborative working culture where a meritocracy-based system ensures diversity and connectivity bloom. Bolstered by programs like the Florence Guild, it’s no wonder the Sydney outpost has developed a waiting list for new members.
We spent a minute with founder Soren Trampedach to learn more about the philosophy behind Work Club, creating experiences that trigger the senses and how to build balance in a lifestyle where work is no longer nine to five.
Kit and Ace: What about the traditional office space do you think was lacking?
Soren Trampedach: A trend towards activity-based working environments emerged in Australia, essentially driven by real estate savings – businesses saw they could reduce space by 20 to 30 per cent, which would reduce overheads. Activity-based working can be a good thing if the space has been designed with all users and teams in mind, but unfortunately the focus becomes about design that’s based on savings rather than functionality or employee productivity – ultimately, the company suffers.
Are there any traditional strategies or designs that you’ve carried over? Why?
ST: Work Club embodies a blurring of lines between home and work, hospitality and retail – there are elements of all those traditional offerings in Work Club because work is no longer just nine to five, so we want it to be a truly enjoyable experience. I don’t know that diversity can be considered a traditional strategy. It’s how we’re disrupting the co-working industry, yet it takes its inspiration from the original Renaissance period and influences our environment. Member diversity demands a functional space for pretty much anyone, and has to appeal to introverts, extroverts and the various moods of the day.
What type of person would be a great fit at Work Club?
ST: Anyone that respects, embraces and adds to the diversity of the community is welcome at Work Club. We have over 50 industries represented at Work Club Sydney alone, from conservative executives from the top end of town to philosophers, musicians and edgy creatives.
Why is community important to you?
ST: It is everything. It is not about being together all the time and collaborating, it is more about being in an environment that allows you to work on your business in a functional space probably 80 per cent of the time and then have the ability to come together with people who see the benefit of stepping outside their tribe to open up new ways of approaching the present and the future the other 20 per cent of the time. The “disruption” that is happening across and within industries is creating a lot of questions for everyone, regardless of whether you are an individual working from home alone, a small firm, a medium firm or even a large corporate. If you work in isolation to some extent you are less likely to find answers, but if you move outside of your normal network, then you increase the probability of getting a spark or an idea you wouldn't otherwise. The benefit of a community is linked to the diversity and the curation of people from all walks of life.
What about the mixture of different fields in one work space entices you?
ST: The best ergonomics happen when people move around as many times as possible during the day – it is not about how the chair adjusts! I love to create spaces that allow people to explore and use different areas depending on their activity at the time and also how they feel. Some days we are more extroverted than others and some days we are more introverted. We all have different personalities and preferences so designing for that diversity to ensure it is functional and people feel at home is a challenge and it's exciting.
Why do you think the word “club” is so powerful?
ST: People are becoming lonelier and disconnected today even though we are more technologically connected than ever. Having a place, a club to go to and enjoy quality face-to-face analog experiences, where that sense of community is inherent, will become increasingly important.
What is the connection between wellness and the work space?
ST: Wellness is not something that is for outside of work. I look at this holistically – right down to the food that we serve members, the physical environment and how that supports [members] mentally. I believe it comes down to the texture of all the materials used and the integrity of those materials. When you create experiences that trigger the senses, such as the smell of old leather-bound books or a texture that’s earthy in an office environment, it supports wellness.