The Economist on Techno-Bedouin.
“The proper metaphor for somebody who carries portable but unwieldy and cumbersome infrastructure is that of an astronaut rather than a nomad, says Paul Saffo, a trend-watcher in Silicon Valley. Astronauts must bring what they need, including oxygen, because they cannot rely on their environment to provide it. They are both defined and limited by their gear and supplies.”
“Urban nomads have started appearing only in the past few years. Like their antecedents in the desert, they are defined not by what they carry but by what they leave behind, knowing that the environment will provide it. Thus, Bedouins do not carry their own water, because they know where the oases are. Modern nomads carry almost no paper because they access their documents on their laptop computers, mobile phones or online. Increasingly, they don’t even bring laptops.”
This is parallel to the Co-Working strategy that David and Andy have been working on.
It’s a tall order to fill a co-working space. Even at an offer acceptance of Â£10 000 per annum, that still means the costs will likely be Â£18 000 per year (when you add Â£6800+ in rates and minimal electricity) not including broadband and heating – that’s Â£1500 a month! To bring the costs to a manageable level that people might want to pay, you’re going to have to aim for occupancy of around 15+. You could do it with less people (paying more) but you’re then really buying into the idea that people will pay for a co-working environment.
I’ve already said that Mac-Sys will put money down to secure a space (which will likely be used once in a blue moon) and we’ll also supply some of the infrastructure as well, if required. I hope it works out – I’m a little jealous of the guys involved as my dance card is totally filled at the moment (with work, babysitting, writing the new book, spending time with her indoors and trying to actually live life!).
I still have my own dreams regarding a Co-Work space that will likely never be realised due to the costs and time it would take to set up (and the fact it’s not an affair for an attic). My theory is that a co-work space needs to have it’s own identity and, if necessary, it’s own employees. Someone needs to be responsible for cleaning the loos, someone needs to keep the place running, chase up the co-conspirators for rent money – and just like in a shared house, that can be incredibly wearing on the patience. Hence you hire someone to do it.
This is why my idea for it was based around the coffee shop. The idea being to straddle the space between public coffee shop and serviced office. I was never 100% sure if Belfast was the right place for it but I still would like to give it a go.
It needs more than just an office though. It needs to be a network.