Article by Kate Tattersfield
The Office Group, pioneers of the coworking concept and champions of all things entrepreneurial, are to offer 100 startups free office space for 12 months over the next three years.
In keeping with the enterprising spirit they promote in their workspaces, office providers TOG will give winning applicants free workspace across 15 of their London locations, which includes access to roof gardens, gyms, bars and networking events. Startups comprised of no more than four people can apply, at least one of whom must be between the ages of 18-24. Applicants submit their business idea here and the best one wins- it’s as simple as that.
TOG’s co-founder Olly Olsen is no stranger to the hurdles of being a self-starter and explains: “We have never forgotten how hard it was to get off the ground, so we’re delighted to be able to provide space for young, ambitious start-ups to grow and succeed amongst like-minded people.”
The Office Group was established in 2003, at the point at which the global working landscape was being reshaped by new and emerging technologies and the gig economy. TOG recognised the need for flexible office options that mirrored the new, more ad hoc ways of operating and were mindful of the need for ‘drop-in’ workspaces.
Although each office space on TOG’s portfolio has its own unique identity, the overall ethos of the group, namely its focus on collaboration, productivity and work-life balance is the common thread that unites them.
Their membership base is diverse: foodies, techies, marketers and financiers cohabit across 33 UK locations, 31 of which are in London.“TOG houses one of the fastest growing and most diverse workforces in the UK and our community has grown to 15,000”, explains Olsen.
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The coworking culture
Over the last few years, coworking has taken the commercial property sector by storm. According to Capital Economics, shared offices have acquired 900 000 sq ft of newly occupied space over the last five years- that’s 8% of overall take up. Startups and small businesses in particular are attracted by the flexible agreements on offer and the culture of collaboration coworking spaces embody.
Paula Haunit is the founder of Sheer Apparel, a sustainable fashion online retailer. She sees her coworking space as a resource for learning and productivity.
“When you go from working in a large organisation to starting a business like I did, all the previous structure falls away. So at its most basic, co-working spaces save you from spending too much time working alone, which, as silly as it sounds, can become a mental wellbeing issue for founders.
My coworking space- Huckletree- also lets me run events there, which is really great for business development. It’s also a great place for introductions and learning new skills, especially if you have just changed industries.”
The application process will close on the 31st March 2017.
Kate Tattersfield is a copywriter at Search Office Space, the longest running flexible workspace consultancy. SOS provide a free search and support service allowing you to compare the entire flexible office market in one place.