Shared workspace is fast becoming the trend for entrepreneurs and early adopters in South Africa, with more and more start-ups moving out of their garages and into spacious, trendy buildings that have been renovated and dedicated to the concept that is co-working, like Workshop17 in the Watershed at the V & A Waterfront. Workshop17 is a V&A initiative, designed, and operated by OPEN.
“Technology has changed how we behave as a society and community,” says Westleigh Wilkinson, director of OPEN, “so it follows that how we work must change as well. Businesses cannot afford to lock their people away in closed offices anymore, or be stuffed into shoe-box cubicles. At least, not if they want to keep on innovating.”
Entrepreneurs and start-ups, attracted by the idea of a shared burden of expense and the opportunity to mingle with like-minded people, are thriving under the added benefit of community and collaboration often associated with a shared workspace.
“The next generation of shared workspace is moving beyond simply providing a large room with desks and chairs in it,” says Westleigh, “and is now evolving into a more deliberate manipulation of the environment and moveable elements to better provoke spontaneous and natural collaboration, innovation and networking.”
“That’s what we moved to Workshop17, after looking for a year for a place that was right for us,” says Vincent Raffray, founding partner and creative director of Future Collective. “Future Collective’s mandate is to create a forever brand for our clients, and to do so effectively, our built-in radar for things authentic and relevant is in overdrive. We felt a real harmony with Workshop17 and the ethos behind what they are trying to achieve. It’s all about community and collaboration, about bumping into people and forming bigger, better ideas. The tables and chairs, and great coffee shop and world class meeting rooms are not the focus. Rather, they are the tools that help us lean into what we can become as a business, and as innovators.”
Vincent has owned and operated ad agencies all over the world,but it was his passion to help companies adapt that lead him to co-create Future Collective in Cape Town. “When we started Future Collective, we wanted to help companies stay relevant and easily adapt,” says Vincent. “Take Kodak. In 2012 they declared bankruptcy, while in the same year Instagram sold for $1billion. If Kodak had developed their own platform for instant images, they would have stayed relevant and might have fared better.”
Vincent carries on explaining the process of creating a forever brand. Storytelling, Ritual, Area, Tools and Staff are at the heart of the process.
“The guys at Workshop17 are nailing this, because they have intuitively understood the fundamentals behind staying relevant and authentic – at the heart of it is a team of great people who live and breathe the values and ethos that is Workshop17. Sure there are a few challenges, like the sounds coming from the dry dock outside the Watershed, but that also adds a bit of flavour to the vibe, and we love it here; there’s room for us to grow.”
“I’ve often said that we see shared workspaces as a living organism, much like a coral reef,” says Westleigh Wilkinson from OPEN. “That’s why we’ve been careful with our selection of tenants at Workshop17, simply because we believe diversity makes for a healthier ecosystem. There’s a place at Workshop17 for entrepreneurs of all disciplines. As long as your offering is innovative, we want you.”