The company follows the motto ‘Work Near Home’ by specifically targeting commuter towns and bringing family into the mix.
Freddie Fforde is CEO of Patch, who operate co-working clubs on commuter town high streets, specifically designed to reduce commuting and allow people to spend more time in their community. We asked him about how he’s tapping into the new flexible zeitgeist.
We want to help people achieve a fairer balance between work and home lives. I’ve got a passion for technology and for people, but it often feels like one is driving the other away. I wanted to create spaces where technology could enhance our ability to spend time together. I was raised by a single parent and commuting always seemed to unfairly punish those who are working hard to bring the next generation into this world, so parents became an important early group for us to focus on.
Work and home life are complex and inter-related. One doesn’t stop when the other starts. Our mantra is ‘work near home’, meaning that we provide spaces in commuter towns for work and life to be in balance together, not in competition. We see this with our members occasionally bringing their children to our space, and in the calendar of events and cultural programming that goes on downstairs with work upstairs. Our own team is based in London, far from our operating location in Chelmsford and we’ve noticed the same benefits (though, in reverse to our customers!).
Startups are great for experimentation, we have a small team of 5 and keep trying new things. We only require the central team to come together 2 days a week and we visit our Patch site on a third. The remaining two days are ‘work from anywhere’. It’s important that we collaborate sometimes, but not all the time. It’s the premise on which we have built Patch and we’re seeing similar patterns with our members.
The attitude of most employers is generally moving in the right direction, many understand that flexibility is the new normal expectation for employees. I can only hope that continues to trickle down to other organisations, who will need to learn to listen if they haven’t already done so. There is a tremendous explosion of collaboration software that is only just starting and I’m looking forward to adopting more of this as it matures.
We expect the trend for 2-3 days a week working near home and the remainder in a combined location, to remain. We think this is better for our own productivity, and for that of our customers too.