Hey there Brendan, thanks for taking the time to talk with us! First I’d like to ask if you could tell me about yourself and about Society1. Could you talk about the history of the space and how you came to work in the flexible workspace industry?
We are an independent Coworking space in the centre of Preston. We are a family team made up of husband and wife, Catarina and Brendan. Along with Chris, Catarina’s brother. The building where we are situated used to be our family’s restaurant. Five years ago we decided to convert the premises into a coworking space. There were very few spaces offering this in Preston and we could see a growing need for it given the developments within the city. We are excited to be in Preston as we feel there is a real buzz in the city right now.
We have three floors of coworking, each with its own style. We also have meeting rooms, conference rooms, event space and a lovely social area on the ground floor. We have a variety of businesses working here from freelancers, consultants and small teams. We are very community focused and enjoy seeing the benefits that everyone gets from working in a creative space surrounded by other likeminded people. The benefits of being part of this type of ecosystem are fantastic for small businesses and individuals who can easily get stuck working in their home offices. We love seeing how fellow coworkers support each other, from a chat over a cup of coffee to collaborating on projects together.
What were the pains/challenges that led you to take advantage of the Cobot - GoCardless integration? How does this integration answer those needs?
We have experience from running hospitality businesses in the past, where we have front desk systems and card terminals. When we set up Society1 we researched a number of different Coworking management systems and we found Cobot offered us exactly what we needed. We love how it intergrates with a number of different applications such as GoCardless for our payments, our front door system and our Customer CRM. It is also really user friendly and allows our coworkers to have a profile where they can manage their own packages and book meeting rooms.
Can you elaborate on ways that GoCardless and Cobot have helped to achieve your strategic goals?
Cobot and GoCardless has been integral in the development of our systems. We wanted to created a fully automated system that both our members and ourselves can access from anywhere. Cobot allows us to do this. It also means that we are in full control of all aspects of our space management from billings, bookings and even who has access to the front door.
You’ve received support from Boost, Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub. What lessons have you learned from that collaboration and how did it influence your mission?
Boost has been a great benefit to us. We attended the Boost courses ourselves when we first set up our business. The support we received was fantastic. Since there we have developed a great partnership with the Boost team. We are a Boost and Co partner and they regularly host their workshops and events at Society1. As space managers we see signposting and information and large part of our roll. We have been able to recommend Boost support to a number of the businesses based here too. Some of whom are now Boost and Co partners too.
What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned throughout the pandemic?
I think the biggest thing I have seen here at Society1, is how important being part of a community is. Although our members haven’t always been here in the building over this last year we have all kept in contact and supported each other where ever we can. Everyone is looking forward to getting back together now. We can’t wait to host our first in person social since before lockdown. I think everyone is really going to enjoy seeing each other again.
What role do you see flexible work playing in Preston in the future?
I think that flexible work is going to play a big part in everyone’s future. The pandemic has highlighted to many businesses that people do not need to work in an office for five days a week to be effective. I hope that companies embrace this new style of working and keep flexibility in their working weeks. The Hybrid Office is a big topic at the moment with the idea that teams and individuals may work in a mixed scenario where they have some days at home and some days in the office.
There is also many freelancers and small business owners who have been tied to the home offices for the last year. I am sure many of these people will be ready to work somewhere different for some of the time. Working from home can be great but it is lovely to have a change of scenery and connect with other people.
I think that flexible workspaces will have a huge role in how businesses find their new working styles and practices.