It would be fair to say that the pandemic has had enormous effects on the world of work, but it has come at a time when other factors were already at work. The decline in shopping on the main streets due to e-commerce has only accelerated. The shift to remote work has exploded. And people no longer want to travel from 8 a.m. M. At 6 p. M. But we’ve also found that working from home isn’t that great. Also, they don’t see the point of commuting to a big city, only to have to work together on something like WeWork, when they could just as easily have gone to something local. The problem is that there is rarely a local coworking space, especially in the suburbs or smaller cities.
If, instead, you could bring your work closer to home (instead of working from home) then theoretically you would get a more balanced lifestyle, but you would also get that separation between work and home that so many people, especially families, still want.
Now a new UK startup has risen to the top with a ‘decentralized workspace’ idea that it plans to roll out across the UK.
Patch will take empty local stores and turn them into “collaborative cultural spaces” with its ‘Work close to home’ proposal aimed at traditional travelers. There are an estimated 6 million knowledge workers in the UK, and Patch will run on monthly subscriptions from these types of members.
It has now raised a $ 1.1 million seed funding round from several leading UK angel investors, including Robin Klein (LocalGlobe co-founder), Matt Clifford (Entrepreneur First co-founder), along with Charlie Songhurst, Simon Murdoch ( episode 1), Wendy Becker (former Jack Wills and NED at Great Portland Estates), Camilla Dolan (founding partner of sustainable investor Eka Ventures), Zoe Jervier (director of talent at American investment firm Sequoia) and Will Neale (founder of Grabyo and early stage investor).
Patch says his ‘Work Close to Home’ idea is geared towards the post-Covid ‘hybrid work’ movement and he plans to create public spaces, “with a focus on entrepreneurship, technology and cultural programming.”
Each Patch location will offer a variety of private offices, co-working studios, “affordable low-cost options” and free scholarship locations.
Patch’s first site will open in Chelmsford, Essex in early November, and the startup says several more sites are planned for 2022. It says it has received requests from people in Chester, St Albans, Wycombe, Shrewsbury, Yeovil, Bury and Kingston upon Thames.
Founder of Patch Freddie fforde He said: “Where we work and where we live has traditionally been seen as distinct environments. This has led to the emptying of many main streets during the work week and equally redundant office districts. We believe that technology fundamentally changes this, allowing people to work close to home and creating a new mixed environment of professional, civic and cultural exchange ”.
Fforde is a former founder and employee of Entrepreneur First who has held various positions at early stage technology companies in London and San Francisco. The product manager will be Dove strelitz, former co-founder of Assemble, a design studio that won the 2015 Turner Prize.
Matt Clifford, Entrepreneur First and Code First Girls, commented: “Technology has always changed the way we organize and work together. Patch will unlock opportunities for talented people based on who they are, without restrictions by where they live. We want to be a country where highly skilled jobs are available everywhere and Patch is a key part of that puzzle. “
By targeting smaller towns and cities, in residential areas, not major city centers, Patch says it will look for underused landmark buildings in the center of towns. In Chelmsford, your first space will be a Victorian brewery, for example.
Chelmsford Councilman Simon Goldman, Deputy Small Business and Economic Development Cabinet Member and BID Board Representative, said: “Introducing a new co-working space at Gray’s Yard is a really positive plan for the city. Providing local options for residents to work will help them have fewer commutes, which will hopefully allow for a better work-life balance. Working closer to home brings many benefits both for individuals and their families, but also for the environment and the local economy ”.
Patch says it will also operate a ‘give back’ model, with 20% of peak hours of event space donated to local and national community service providers “that support the common good.” Early national partners include technology skills providers Code First Girls, and Coder Dojo, an initiative of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.