Today I went along to the free co-working day hosted by Nest Coworking in Thornbury in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. (I’m currently typing this blog post from their big community desk you see in one of the photos below). Joyce Seitzinger (@catspyjamasnz) had alerted me to this space to check out due to its true “community feel”.
— Helen Blunden (@ActivateLearn) December 6, 2015
I am part of a small group called the Kingston Co-working Collective set up by Simon Mossman (@SimonMossman) to inspire interest to initiate a co-working space or community in our local area in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
Many who have been reading my blog realise that this was also a big interest of mine for a few years now and I wrote about it in “Where are the Third Places in The ‘Burbs?” I guess I’m anticipating the changing demographics and observing the business, manufacturing and industrial areas in my local community and thinking about how these can be used to connect more people and business to each other.
So the need for something like a co-working space (but inherently linked to the identity and needs of the suburb) was evident especially as many people are now freelancing or working from home.I’ve been using my time in between my work at Activate Learning Solutions and also building my own community of learning professionals across Australia in “Third Place” to reconnect with people in my local business community and neighbourhood and quickly realised that there are other people like me who have the same thinking.
The challenge is that we have the group of interested people but we don’t have the “space” – and that “space” means different things to different people. Therefore, rather than commit to one idea, I like to try things out – experiment, chat, test and see what I would like if an opportunity arose to join a co-working space and I’ve quickly come to the conclusion that for me, a community feel is definitely a winner.
Some years ago, there was a show on television called “Cheers”. It was a bar in Boston and the story revolved around the bar owner and a few of his patrons who sat at the end of the bar. This was their “third place” – a place where you go and everyone knows your name. The idea of that ‘third place’ made an impact on me – even back then.
So this morning I went along to Nest Coworking on High Street in Thornbury and when I first opened the door to enter, it felt like I was walking into someone’s home. The blend of the clean, open space with lots of soft light and wood panelling across the walls gave a homely, quiet and welcoming space.
We were welcomed by Al Jeffery (one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30 in Australia) who gave us a tour and brief about the space. You may have seen Al in the media of late as he’s one of the first people and with Simon Harman to be setting up the world’s first co-living space. Check out their website called Base.
Al mentioned that the owner Jay Chubb had travelled the world to view different co-work spaces. He had found this space which used to be part of the Carwyn Cellars on High Street and modified it. The raised floor and walls have noise blocking material and walls lined with wood panels. Even now, as I type this blog post, people are chatting around me but the noise does not reverberate like other spaces I’ve been to. The light and the wood create a softness that is conducive to productive working.
Al explained that their business model is all around trust and community. Membership is based on hours of use and billed in advance. There is no ‘time recording’ system. Every member has access to the space 24/7, have their own locker and key for the day and has access to the various spaces for their particular needs and purposes. He explained that Nest Coworking “curate the community” and I asked what that meant.
“Curating the community means that we select our members based on cultural fit of our vision of this space. To us, it’s all about community and giving back. As such you will see no signs that tells people what to do and how to do it, no forced connections or networking events. Our space is built for collaboration to occur naturally.”
Unlike other spaces I have seen, Nest Coworking is mainly hotdesking. There are a couple of meeting rooms upstairs that are used by a couple of start ups and there’s a room for training and meetings. Other than that there are comfortable break out areas to use.
(They also tell me that there’s a Pop Up Park nearby which I should check out).
Have you had any experience with some interesting co-working spaces? Let me know by commenting on here on the blog!
Are you interested in joining the Kingston Coworking Collective and joining us to show your support in creating something similar in our area? Then check out our Facebook group and get involved!