Resources  ·  Posted May 24, 2024

Flexible Space Association Conference: A Review

Business Development Manager, Sam Ross, recently travelled to London to attend and speak at the Flexible Space Association’s 2024 conference. Here, she shares her thoughts.

Sam Ross speaking on a panel at the Flexible Space Association Conference 2024

Last Monday, I was delighted to be invited to attend and speak at the Flexible Space Association conference in London. 

There was a great mix of larger and smaller operators attending the conference, as well as some people who were considering venturing into coworking but weren’t sure of the logistics. The scale of the larger operators was quite something – we’re talking hundreds of thousands of square footage (in comparison to our ~3,700 square footage). There were common struggles and values, though, including the importance placed on space design for fostering productivity.  

In particular, Alan Pepper, CEO of Orega, spoke about the balance of valuing people and process as flexspace operators scale up. This was interesting to me because, even though The Melting Pot has just one location, I would say we’re pretty tight on our processes. Would our use of Nexudus feel just as seamless if we worked across multiple locations? How would we replicate the same rich community of members elsewhere? It was food for thought.  

Dougal Shaw, BBC Business journalist, gave an engaging summary of his unintentional focus on how we have chosen to use space over the last ten years. He played several video interviews, including one he produced with Brian Chesky of Airbnb, highlighting how the growing platform economy has also changed the way we view personal space. My biggest takeaway? The concept of coworking in and of itself is not necessarily interesting or complex; it’s the personal motivation behind using coworking spaces and the connections they make within them that I want to hear more about. 

Dougal’s talk also made me think about a chat I had with Shona Adam of the Scottish Futures Trust a few weeks back. On top of Dougal’s points, the coworking space discussion was interesting because it showed how we have increased our value on place. Place that suits our working pattern, our life choices and the people we want to meet to allow our projects, campaigns and organisations to flourish.  

The main focus for me was the afternoon panel, “Play where others can’t – competitive advantages for a smaller workspace operator”. Freddie Fforde, Founder of Patch, Kevin Vowles, Head of Community at Square Works, Denise McGeachy, Group Operations Officer at Bracken Workspace Plus and I wanted to focus on our special sauces; what made independent coworking spaces a joy to operate and work within?  

Our common ground was the communities that we attracted and nurtured, and the satisfaction of watching individuals within these ecosystems grow and develop their ideas. Of course, this meant that I also got to speak about Good Ideas and the personal journeys that people navigated through the programme’s guidance, in addition to the place-based support.  

Our chats before and during the conference highlighted that coworking space was becoming less about simply “taking the pain out of office space”, and more about using places productively, with purpose, and to benefit our individual and collective goals. You’ll see The Melting Pot invite greater conversation about this towards the end of 2024.  

Sam, Business Development Manager, networking at a conference

Since attending, a few people asked me, “Was it really worth it to go down to London?”. The answer is an immediate yes. I don’t just use Nexudus now, I’ve met the people behind it. Whereas the idea of big and small operators of flexible space coming together could have been a chance to simply disagree, it allowed us to find commonality and talk about places, not just desks.  

I could have done without the train cancellations on the way back to Edinburgh, but taking The Melting Pot on this little trip was a great way of expanding the audience we engage with and reinforcing our approach to bridging communities.   

Looking for someone to speak at an event about flexible space, social innovation or collaborative communities? Contact Sam at [email protected] and we’ll look forward to working with you.