DeskLodge, the biggest co-working space in Bristol, won the Entrepreneurial Co-working Space of the Year award at this year’s Great British Entrepreneur Awards. Described as a fun and adventurous space with a focus on productivity, it's home to 40 resident companies and around 250 visitors each day.
But what is the story behind DeskLodge?
Founder Tom Ball enjoyed building things since he was a child. He would fill notebooks with doodles of discos, gadgets and ideas for offices. “What,” he thought to himself, “would I build if I could build anything?” And that anything was DeskLodge, built from all of his notions of the perfect office.
But prior to DeskLodge, Tom built web agency CD9, dotcom DomainAudit, comms agency Cognac and has organised parties for up to 1,200 entrepreneurs. He also founded NearDesk as an ‘Oyster card’-style system for desk space, to let users work in co-working spaces around the UK.
The vision behind DeskLodge was simple; Tom found inspiration in his son’s school classroom. In awe of his son’s reading corner, painting corner and writing corner, he realised he wanted more than simply a desk to work on. With team tables, phone booths, meeting booths, a library, standing desks, sofas, an indoor garden and hub spaces, DeskLodge has much more than the usual office desk.
Opening its doors in June 2015 with 14000 square foot, it soon had to expand its floor space to take on another floor of 11000 square foot in spring 2016, allowing smaller companies the chance to offer their staff a dynamic work space and a supportive community that is difficult to create by themselves.
The co-working space says it allows people to work alongside others and grow much more flexibly with lower costs, only paying for the time used in the space.
DeskLodge say that the way they work is changing and creating a new type of space designed for flexible working. All the ingredients are already there, including mobile technology, cloud computing and ubiquitous Wi-Fi, which all help to liberate people from being chained to a single desk.
However, they believe the only thing holding us back is the cultural shift needed to embrace them. There is more to learn from the bars and restaurants than from offices of yesteryear.
They have seen great commercial success too, as traditional serviced offices take on average four years for sites to reach ‘maturity’, the space in Bristol filled both phases in as little as three months after opening.
But what about the future of co-working? It’s expanding. DeskLodge plan to open sites in more cities and towns acorss the UK, as there are many growing businesses and entrepreneurs across the country ready to embrace a new work style.
Tom said: “We think in five years co-working will be called working. Why would you work in a cupboard down a corridor when you could be in a buzzing space surrounded by great people?”