Build strong economies and communities through shared work hubs for the “work from home” future.

As the pandemic grew, people abandoned urban areas for new lives in hamlets, villages and towns across the UK. Property values in these areas grew, especially those areas with a convenient city link, as demand for larger living spaces which suited a work from home environment became a new priority. Meanwhile businesses across the UK closed their doors, many for good, leaving a barren landscape of empty commercial properties on the high streets of our nation and yet another opportunity for social interaction lost from our daily lives. My solution to this challenge is to capitalise on the nation’s new work from home phenomenon within the growing non urban populations using the multitude of empty properties on the high streets across the UK. With this combination of people and property there is an opportunity to revitalise communities and economies through government backed, flexible shared work hubs for people within these growing country and suburban areas. Essentially provide a government version of Wework for communities across the nation. For those not familiar, Wework was an innovative start up which grew to its global, multi billion pound valuation in less than a decade, with countless imitators following their business model. They realised that todays workforce didn’t always require a traditional work environment but still wanted the social aspects of an office. What Wework offered was subscription packages for shared workspaces with amenities such as cafes, bars and wellness centres that offer fitness, spas and classes. Though Wework and its imitators were decimated by the pandemic due to society’s exodus from metropolitan areas it does not mean that their business model was a failure. People are social animals and will always want to feel connected. Government backed work hubs in smaller communities across the UK would be an opportunity for the citizens of those communities to come together in a flexible working environment and get to know their neighbour, create strong communities, encourage local businesses to grow around these communal work hubs and help to grow the economies of communities across the nation. Understandably there are financial requirements that would be needed to allow an initiative such as this to blossom. First councils would need to invest in empty properties in their area and familiarise and incentivise residents to the concept through considered spatial design/amenities within the hub and local marketing. As the use of the hubs grew the costs could be subsidised through leasing corners of the hub to other local business, such as cafes, restaurants and hospitality/fitness, who would benefit from the congregation of locals. There could also be private rooms for hire so that locals who needed to conduct meetings for a business pitch or staff training could request that their employer hire the hubs for this purpose. Eventually as the use of the hubs became as natural as a morning cup of coffee, people working in the hub could be charged a minimal subscription service dependent on local rates, which could then be passed on to the employer of that person to cover, or if the constituent is self employed and not VAT registered it could remain a free service to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship within the local region. As the hubs became a social lighthouse for the communities they were in, businesses surrounding the shared work hubs would begin to flourish. This frequent and constant traffic of locals would encourage other businesses such as retail and entertainment to build around these hubs. Eventually communities across the UK would grow into flourishing micro economies with revitalised and diverse high streets catering to a collaborative and neighbourly community. Apart from the economic benefits of this plan there are many social benefits too. The community using these hubs would begin to build relationships with their neighbours through regular and frequent interactions. As a result this would strengthen the community bond and improve the living conditions of people across the UK by helping to encourage camaraderie, rid loneliness and reduce crime through community investment. I believe that starting small in commuter towns and in areas which saw the most growth from the urban exodus would be a good place to start and grow from there. While I have no doubt that this would be a difficult initiative to launch, I think it has great potential for improving the economies and lives of people across our country.




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