Freelancers find flexi-office
By Nick Easen for CNN
LONDON, England (CNN) -- Aside from having an office at home, where do all our ex-work colleagues go when they go it alone with a start-up or spin-off company?
Welcome to the modern "flexi-office", a place where you can rent a workstation and a meeting room for an hour, or have a virtual business address just for mail and messages.
Many established professionals have left comfortable management positions to go it alone and now visit an office each day that they pay for by the hour.
"We have clients from the financial, consultancy and manufacturing sector, 50 percent of our clients are companies set up in the last 18 months," Pier Paolo Mucelli of eOffice told CNN.
"The market is growing and despite the current cycle there will be a rising trend for added flexibility in business centers," adds Mucelli, whose 8,000 square foot office space has 160 active companies and 300 members in total.
The open plan flexi-office in Soho, central London offers break out area and places to concentrate, as well as the regular technology tools -- broadband wireless access, voice service and printing.
And with at least 500,000 freelancers in the capital, according to figures quoted in the Evening Standard newspaper, the market potential is huge.
One thing that the open plan flexi-office offers beyond both working at home and serviced offices is the potential for social interaction.
Coffee machine acquaintances, as well as breakfast or drink events have turned into profitable networking opportunities.
"Our meeting room business is growing rapidly, as there is a increasing need for social interaction, several of our members are now collaborating in projects," says Mucelli.
EOffice says it is one of the only business centers in the UK based entirely on an open-plan environment.
However, the office concept is also mirrored elsewhere in Europe, including United Spaces in Stockholm, Sweden.
Both companies have plans for expansion and believe their business model is the way the future office space is going.
"I expect similar concept to pop up and the market will finally take off, probably sometime in 2005-2006," says Mucelli.