The benefits of coworking spaces for remote workers with Andy Bedwell

Andy Bedwell is a property investor and developer that has a growing network of managed office spaces across the UK. Owner of Perch Co-Working, his aim is to cultivate a thriving community of workers, enabling people to come together and create great things.

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Luis:

Welcome, ladies and gentleman, to another episode of the DistantJob Podcast, a podcast that’s all about building and leading awesome remote teams.

Luis:

I am your host, Luis, as usual, and today I have with me, Andy Bedwell. Andy is a property investor, and development that has a growing network of managed office spaces. He was introduced to me to be on the podcast as the owner of Perch Coworking, which is more than a coworking space, it aims to be a community. So we’re going to talk about community, we’re going to talk about coworking spaces, and we’re going to talk about how those are impacting remote businesses.

Luis:

Andy, welcome to the podcast.

Andy Bedwell:

Thank you very much. Glad to be here.

Luis:

Tell me a bit more about Perch Coworking. Why did you feel it was important to turn your attention to the coworking arena and how do you feel that the growth of remote work has really impacted your decision and is being served by your decision?

Andy Bedwell:

So we’ve been doing Perch Coworking, and it’s actually in Bicester, for just under two years now. We see lots of coworking grow in London, in Oxford, and the big cities, it’s been established for quite a while. One of the things we’re just starting to see is it come out more from the big cities into the towns.

Andy Bedwell:

Bicester was particularly of interest. We have a property business there already so we knew the town, and we also knew there was quite a lot of demand for flexible space there for companies that were having to drive out of Bicester to go places like Oxford for work. So we were quite interested in the concept. Strong belief in the town. Wanted to develop it as an area, and wanted to develop the concept.

Andy Bedwell:

The more we got into looking at coworking, I think the more we liked the idea of providing wraparound support for small and startup companies and just providing a platform for them to grow from, and just create a great contribution from. So there was a physical element to the property and the town, and I guess an emotional element from working with businesses and helping them grow.

Luis:

Nice, nice. So tell me about your experience with remote work. Was there an inflection point in the past years where you felt that it really started becoming a thing in the circles that you moved on?

Andy Bedwell:

I think I’ve been aware of it for quite a while, albeit I think it’s only been trendy in the last few years. So I used to work with Diageo and the big corporates, in consulting, over a number of years. So I think it’s been bubbling for a while, in terms of I used to work from home a lot, I used to meet people in coffee shops a lot. So I think that’s been around for quite a bit. I think it’s got more formalized into cowork centers. I remember probably five or 10 years ago we used to just meet people in London business clubs, as they were probably called, and that was coworking by another name back then.

Andy Bedwell:

So I think the concept’s not brand new, but I think it’s all of a sudden got very flexible, got more accessible. I think for small and startup businesses there are now spaces that you can access just for the odd hour or two or a half day or a day, whereas, historically, you maybe had to be a member of a club on a more formal, more expensive basis.

Andy Bedwell:

So I think I was aware of it for a while but I think for the last, I don’t know, three or four years, I’ve probably become more aware of it as something that’s accessible to pretty much anybody, and there’s a lot more choice in what people are looking for and what people can get.

Luis:

So what you do think that is attractive for businesses and for employees as well in coworking spaces? From my perspective, what I see a lot is people who want to work remotely want to work from home, and they build their own home office and they have that productivity dedicated space on their homes.

Luis:

Then I see digital nomads, which I think that it’s possible to be a good digital nomad, I don’t want to sound negative, but I tend to think of, and most people tend to think of these people as people who work from cafés, from restaurants, by the beach, or hotel rooms, as they travel, and that’s usually… maybe it’s not true, maybe it’s a perception, but most people perceive them as less productive.

Luis:

Then we have this third option that is the coworking space, that’s been gaining momentum. I’ve been hearing more and more about coworking spaces over the past year than I’ve heard in the past five or 10 years. So what is it about the coworking experience that you think makes it special?

Andy Bedwell:

So probably easier to bring it to life with a couple of examples from Perch in Bicester for you. So I guess, broadly, we’ve got three, maybe four categories of users, and each draw their own thing from it. So I think we’ve got the obvious one that people expect, which is just more of your startup, and what appeals to them is relatively low cost of entry, lots of flexibility, you get to meet other companies.

Andy Bedwell:

I think you move on from those and you get the ones that have probably got one or two people, through to the small teams. What they like is that, again, it’s the flexibility. So in Perch we’ve got people on a team pass, for example, that just… they share the hours. So they quite like that they can come out of maybe an expensive serviced office, or their own office, and they can just drop in. There’s no commitments. If they want to use five hours a week, they can. If they want to use 50 hours a week, they can. So they can flex that quite heavily around their agenda. So that’s probably a second category.

Andy Bedwell:

I think your third category then is people that are just what I call corporate touchdown. We’ve got a couple of people. We’ve got ops directors and managing directors of businesses that just come in actually for a peace and space and tranquility. They get away from the office, nobody bugs them, they can just get their head down and work.

Andy Bedwell:

So I think you’ve got those three categories. The fourth one that sits over all of them really is we’ve got meeting room space that could be anything from somebody just having a one hour meeting with a colleague through to… we have major retailers near us use it for away days. So I think the retailers sit across all of that. So we can cater for all of those. So I guess that’s your type of user and what appeals to them.

Andy Bedwell:

The other dimension for me then is the… it’s kind of what people look for from the space. One of our members is a… I’ll use him as an example. He’s a fitness coach, and he posts on social media when he’s with us. He tends to post in one or two frames of mind. So one of them tends to be, “Hey, this is great. I’ve just come in to focus. I get so much done here. I’ve just got my head down and I’ve just blasted it.” So he’ll tend to use us. He’ll take a quiet corner of the space, he’ll work for three or four hours, and he’ll just get stuff done. So that’s one way he uses us. But the alternative then is he uses it  and on those days he’s super creative and his posts then will reflect that and go, “Hey, I’ve got loads of inspiration. I met somebody. I talked about this.”

Andy Bedwell:

So I think you’ve got to look at the people that do use it in one category, and then the way that they use it which, certainly if you’ve got a space that’s got that flexibility, then it allows that to happen, and it lets people use it in the variety of ways that they want to.

Luis:

I see that a big part of the benefit is really the focus and that’s actually what some people tell me about working from home, they prefer to work from home for focus. But some people don’t seem to be able to focus at home. I’ve definitely met some of those people. Do you have cases like that, cases of people who have a remote arrangement but for some reason they can’t seem to be able to focus properly at home? How big of a percentage of your users is that, if you can give me an estimate?

Andy Bedwell:

It’s definitely there. I’m not sure it’s huge. It’s probably 20%, I guess… I’m guessing. And that’s people that just physically can’t get on at home, be it kids, be it dogs. Actually we’ve had almost the reverse scenario where we’ve had the kids coming in to work in the coworking space because they can’t get on in school holidays with all the other kids and dogs at home. So we definitely get that.

Andy Bedwell:

I think a lot of our people actually come because it’s the community, it’s the connection. It’s more that working from home is not necessarily distracting but just lonely. Some of those guys actually come in and might work at home for a couple of days a week, but come into us for couple of days a week just to break it up a little bit. So it varies I think.

Luis:

That’s a good point. So that’s actually something that I wanted to talk about. When I was reading up on your businesses, there’s a huge emphasis on the community aspect, and a lot of concerns that… When people come to me with concerns about remote work, it’s usually about company culture. I wonder if you can tell me, number one, why do you think that the coworking space is not just a place for people to work but also a community and what, if anything, do you do to help that sense of community grow? Second, how do you think that matches company culture, meaning is it true that people that are in a coworking space have more of a coworking space culture than a company culture related to the company they work in?

Andy Bedwell:

Yeah, I think there’s some truth in that. I think probably the difference is we don’t try and enforce a culture. My background was in consulting with lots of corporates, and we did a lot of work around corporate culture and change, and I think if there’s a theme around that it was usually that the board, the chief exec, or the management team had got a view of what they wanted that company culture to be. I think we don’t at Perch. If we have one rule in Perch, it’s play nicely. It’s deal with other people, be respectful of other people, and it can form its own culture.

Andy Bedwell:

So where do we try and facilitate that? We make it easier for people to connect. So we try and do it across, I guess, through three categories. So in one category we try to provide a business backbone. So we’ll provide free events for people on internet marketing, on GDPR, on legal or finance. So we’ll provide that business backbone. So some people are more attracted to that.

Luis:

Right. It has an educational component to it?

Andy Bedwell:

Pardon?

Luis:

There is an educational component to it?

Andy Bedwell:

Exactly, yeah. But it’s educational but it’s also networking, that people get in the room talking to people with similar issues. So, yes, you might spend half an hour and you might learn a little bit about how to handle your Google leads, but in doing that you’re also talking to three other businesses that you’re working across the table from each day, and you then get a connection with them. So when you’re then talking about your own Google leads, you’ve got three or four other people in the building that have had the same issue and got the same frame of reference. So it is educational but it actually builds community as well, just for doing it that way.

Andy Bedwell:

So I think we’ve got a business element. We do a bit about health and wellbeing, although, if I’m really honest, it’s not something that our members have taken up that so much so we’ve not pushed it that hard. Then we do a social piece where we do… at the most basic level, it’s a WhatsApp group where members can connect with each other if they want to be on it, and we’ll go out for drinks together. It’s killing me this month because I’m doing three Christmas nights out for all of us. So I’ll be Christmas night-ed out by the time I’m done, but we try and create that environment because there isn’t a company night out if you’re a solopreneur, so we try and create that.

Andy Bedwell:

I just describe it as the glue, if you like. It’s the stuff that makes people feel like they’re a part of something, and I don’t think we can determine that, I think they have to make it theirs. The only time we’d really intervene is if people contravene that play nicely rule and start to upset other members, but we don’t really get that. So far it’s not something we’ve had to deal with.

Luis:

You might not have a lot to say on it, and it’s fine, but I really want to drill down on the wellness thing because I find that’s very unique. We once polled the DistanceJob employees for perks, and the number one most sought after perk would be a paid gym membership. So definitely remote people tend to be into well and wellness. Where do you think was the disconnect there?

Andy Bedwell:

I’m not saying there’s a disconnect. A lot of our guys are members of the gym across the road so there is definitely… We’ve got fitness coaches that are part of our community that are very active. I think our experience is, when we’ve put on a wellness-based event, it’s had patchy uptake. I’m not quite sure why. We’ve done a variety of stuff. The council have a got big thing around healthy Bicester which we engage with. I think it just wasn’t a priority in the working day for people.

Andy Bedwell:

Having said that, we ran a really, really good session about a month ago on just things like posture at work and the body physiology and how you can make yourself feel well at work, just some actually quite basic but really important stuff about understanding the weight of your head and how that sits on your skeletal frame and therefore where you can create stress in your body by working in a bad way. We did get some really good engagement with that, and some good people turned up to do it.

Andy Bedwell:

I just think it’s not something that a lot of our people have necessarily prioritized because they’ve then got to fit that in and around a working week. But I don’t think they’d say it wasn’t important. I think it’s just they haven’t necessarily done it in our center in the way we’ve set it up, but I think they probably are doing various bits of it at home.

Luis:

Nice, nice. I never considered the weight of my head, if I’m being completely honest. Maybe I’m too big-headed, or small-headed!

Andy Bedwell:

The trainer that did it showed us quite graphically what the weight was and what it meant to carry it, and when you think about it that way you’ll actually start sitting quite differently.

Luis:

Yeah. You have like a watermelon sitting on top of your spine, not good!

Andy Bedwell:

Exactly.

Luis:

Not good. Awesome. 

Andy Bedwell:

To change posture now, it’s just reminded me.

Luis:

Was this something that was in your plan from the beginning or was this something that you decided you needed, and what was your thinking process to get it? I think that most people that decide to start a coworking space mostly think, “Well, I am going to get space. I’m going to make that space look nice and be comfortable, and I’m going to rent it. That’s my business model.” What led to the idea of actually creating this type of engagement?

Andy Bedwell:

If I’m brutally honest, we didn’t start out to create a coworking space. We were serviced offices, with all the values that I’ve talked about. So we always intended it to be that sort of business. I think, as I mentioned earlier, we already had a business in Bicester and so we were quite committed to Bicester as a town and we wanted to do something there to link in with our other business. As we were looking, just by virtue of the way Bicester’s grown organically over the years, there just physically aren’t that many office buildings available. It’s not that whole big, old Victorian building heritage, and lots of them, that a lot of bigger towns have.

Andy Bedwell:

So when we did that, we got chatting to the council and the council had this particular space that they were looking for somebody to operate. They’d developed it as a concept, they were quite… this is Cherwell District Council. They were quite forward-looking with it and had developed the site and the concept. So we said, “Actually, okay. We’ll run that partly to build a relationship a council, partly to get to know it, and partly…” We thought it would be a good platform to then build an office building from, as and when one became available.

Andy Bedwell:

So for us it was part of the journey but it wasn’t really where we intended to start the journey.

Luis:

So obviously we have a lot of happy users. From what I’ve seen, people love using your coworking spaces. Apart from the startups, that they don’t necessarily have the money for their own offices, so they obviously enjoy the offering a lot, how do you feel this has impacted businesses that already have traditional offices? How do these businesses react to some of their employees now working at your coworking spaces, and what are the benefits that they have reported to feeling to you, if any?

Andy Bedwell:

The ones that have got offices, or had offices before they joined us, it tends to be maybe companies that have got an office in London, and so therefore this is their employee base in Bicester. It’s an out of London base where the benefit is they’re not traveling in and having to commute. So that’s one group.

Andy Bedwell:

We’ve got another group that have come as they’ve come out of offices. So they chose not to carry the overhead, and like the flexibility of just being able to come together once or twice a week. That’s worked.

Andy Bedwell:

The other category is probably just… tends to be senior people in the business that just want somewhere to get out and work somewhere different, and they’ve just liked the fact that they can just knuckle down and get on and nobody distracts them.

Andy Bedwell:

So I think you find different groups. The ones that are maybe working as a satellite office are quite keen to engage with other people and just have the office feel away from a central London base. The guys that are looking to get out of their own office and have a breakout space aren’t really that interested in engaging with everybody else because the reason they’re choosing to come here is to get their head down and just work. So they have different cultures, but I think we have different parts of the space that let them go to the area that they’re most comfortable in.

Andy Bedwell:

There’s very subtle signals people give which is… are common across a lot of coworking spaces. If you’re staring at the screen with your headphones on and not making eye contact, it probably means, “Leave me alone, I’m doing something.” So I think-

Luis:

Yeah, exactly.

Andy Bedwell:

People react to that that way whereas people are a bit more open.

Luis:

So talking about yourself and your hiring practices, when you are… because I do believe that when you’re hiring someone to work from a coworking space, or from home to work remotely, you do need a certain set of characteristics that are not dependent on their skills. Someone can be a great biz dev guy or maybe a great developer, and still not be good at remote work. So I see remote work as an extra set of skills that the person needs to have. Would you agree with this, and if you do, what kind of skills do you believe someone needs to have in order to be able to work in an environment like your coworking space?

Andy Bedwell:

I’ve got be honest, I’ve never really seen it that way. I’ve never seen remote working as something different to normal working. I think it’s a way of working that suits some people more than others. I’ve never seen it as a skillset. As hopefully I’ve painted a picture, I think some people want to cowork all the time, some people want to cowork for an hour or two. I don’t see it as a skill that you have to have in order to do it. I think it’s just a… I don’t know.

Andy Bedwell:

When you talk about recruitment, we recruit our team members on values and, for me, values are more important than skills in this. It’s, do you value community, do you value getting on with people, do you value the fact that other people are going to bring ideas to you and that you might benefit by working alongside somebody that’s from a completely different company? I think the people that have got those values, that are more open to that sort of stuff are more… I think they probably use coworking to its fullest most. If you don’t have that, and all you want to do is get on your own and work, that doesn’t necessarily mean to say that coworking’s not for you, I think it just means you just engage with it in a different way.

Luis:

Yeah, it’s very interesting because actually, in my experience, this might not reflect everyone’s experience and it probably doesn’t, but actually, the people most drawn to coworking and to remote work, are the people who actually want to be more by themselves, the people that are a bit less social. Not that they don’t enjoy being social but they are more introverted, so they really thrive when they have less contact with people daily. I’ve seen that community, if you can call it a community, tends to be more drawn to remote work. So I don’t know if this is something that you’ve noticed because your spaces, I’m getting more and more the feeling, that they are very geared towards socializing.

Andy Bedwell:

No, I think we provide the social environment but I don’t think you have to be social to work in them. I’ve never really thought of a coworker, certainly in our spaces, I’ve never thought of them having to be a certain type of person. I think certain types of people probably are more visible in our spaces, but you can be more extrovert or more introverted and still be there. I think probably what doesn’t work is the extremes of extroversion actually. We’ve had people that are just all out there, all social all the time, and quite loud, and that can grate a little in a coworking space.

Luis:

Yeah. Distracting, right?

Andy Bedwell:

Yeah, exactly. So I think there’s a threshold you cross where you start to impact other members but I think as long as you’re the right side of that threshold, you can be pretty much whatever you want to be, it doesn’t really matter, and you want to find a quiet corner and stay there.

Andy Bedwell:

So I’ll give you an example. We’ve got a couple of quiet booths in our space, and we’ve got some members that just come in, work in the quiet booths, never talk to anybody all day, and then head back, and we never see them. That’s the one extreme.

Andy Bedwell:

Then we’ve got people that will always go at a shared desk and will sit and chat and socialize all day and go out for a drink after work. I think you don’t have to be a type to use it, I think it just determines how you use it.

Luis:

So how do you see the future of coworking? Let’s say 10 years from now, let’s say, do you think that the proliferation of coworking spaces will mean that this setup will overtake normal offices? Will we come to a time where more people work out of the office than in the office?

Andy Bedwell:

I’m not sure you’ll ever get that with some of the bigger companies where people just need to be in the same space. I think there’ll always be a market for the big office space. If I had my crystal ball out, I’d probably say what you might see would be more hybrid spaces where you can move from just having startup through to being a bigger company, but the bigger companies are more on flexible terms.

Andy Bedwell:

There’s been a lot of publicity about WeWork over the last year, last year or so. My personal view is, the concept I don’t think is particularly… obviously it’s not wrong otherwise it wouldn’t be valued so highly, or low, depending on your view. I think there’s a way of running that that can make it viable and make it lower touch for companies that want lower touch, and therefore lower cost for companies that want lower cost.

Andy Bedwell:

The bigger the space that you take out as a company, the more expensive coworking and serviced office becomes. So I think it has to reach a point where, if you’re going to take a 50 seat space, you can’t charge that at a full rate and get the same rate that per square foot, if you look at it commercially, as you would do if you did a very small space.

Andy Bedwell:

So I think, for me, there’ll be more of a blend between café culture, um, cowork-small office space, through to progression space for companies. I think, across the board, companies will look a lot more flexibly, and I think there’ll be probably more tolerance of the fact that people do work in flexible ways.

Andy Bedwell:

Going back when I started work, it was… you just wouldn’t have worked in a cowork space, whereas I think now it’s a lot more acceptable for people to do that. I think it’s more acceptable now for small and medium sized companies to be in a flexible space than it would have been a few years ago. So I think there’s going to be more of an acceptance that flexible space is okay for companies to be in and with that, I think it will just become more of it and it might move coworking a little bit into some of the bigger buildings that have got more of an office offering as well for people to progress to.

Luis:

All right, all right. Sounds like a pretty good prediction for the future. I would definitely say that I’m a bit more aggressive. I think that if your work can be done from a computer, there’s absolutely no reason for you to be in an office. It’s just bad for everyone involved.

Luis:

Now of course the culture needs to change. It’s a matter of cultural change. That’s part of why I do this show, to try to shift the culture a bit. Obviously a dentist needs a dental office. If you’re building buildings, you need to be on-site until you can have robots that you can work from home with, I guess, but that’s still a long way into the future.

Luis:

But I actually think that it just doesn’t make sense for, let’s say, even if it’s a huge company, a company that’s all about software developer, everyone is working on a computer. Everyone is probably communicating through Slack instead of walking up to each other’s desks. So it really just seems like it’s a waste of space, of resources, and of not enabling people to work as they work best, which could very well be in a coworking space like yours where they can actually connect and get some perspectives on their problems from people from other companies. It just seems a much healthier situation. Some things never go away, but I hope that the office, the industrial office situation will go away, as much as it possibly can.

Andy Bedwell:

Yeah, I would agree with that. I’ve worked in some pretty horrible offices and I wouldn’t ever advocate them as great places to be. I think what would change is, there will be a core of people that kind of work together or need to operate together or want to operate together.

Andy Bedwell:

So if you’ve got a hundred person business, I’m not saying you need a hundred seat office to cater for that, you might only need a 20 seat office a bunch of coworking stuff around it. I think the larger companies will still need some sort of core to work from, and you might make the space in that feel like a lot more flexible workspace. Hopefully the days of big office farms and desks everywhere are long gone, or will disappear.

Andy Bedwell:

You might say, if you take that 100 person company, they might have that 20, 30 seat center that they have as their own, where the corporate head office is, for want of a better word, and then people use cowork centers or home or remote working for the rest of the time and come together very occasionally. I think they’ll want the space to come together, whether that’s their office or it’s a bigger coworking space.

Luis:

Oh, yeah, for sure, for sure. It’s super powerful. Again, DistantJob is a fully remote company, but we see, and we encourage our clients to do that. We see that it’s super powerful when you actually get people together on a space but, again, on their terms, not on the company’s terms. That is the key. Our team is spread across three continents but on those continents, when you can get them together on a coworking location, it’s really magical. So for sure you do want to give the core teams, or the cores of the teams, the possibility to gather together as often as they want. 

Andy Bedwell:

Just to give that some meat. One of our teams uses it that way and what works for them in using a cowork space to come together is, because they don’t have a set desk, when they do come together, they sit differently. Different people sit in different places, different people are in on different days. So their team dynamic actually is more dynamic for the fact that they do come together in a different way. Whereas I think if they had their own desk in the same place, you sit and see the same people. So I think it will definitely change, and I think the fact that people can use space more flexibly is going to be there to stay.

Luis:

Okay. So let me take us towards the end of the show with a couple of quick questions. The questions are quick but the answer doesn’t need to be quick, so feel free to take as much time as you like. If you had 100… I usually say Euros but I guess let’s go pounds. If you had £100 to spend with each person working for you, what would you give them? There are some rules. Number one, you can’t give them the money. Number two, you need to buy in bulk, so you need to give the same thing to everyone, but it can be anything. It can be tools, it can be software, it can be hardware, whatever.

Andy Bedwell:

What would I give them? I’d help them to get into some of the… give them training development or exposure or conferences or something that gets them into some of the more leading edge ways that companies are working together. So be that simple tools like Slack, or be it videos, or be it techniques, but I think I’d probably… Coworking’s moving so fast and the trend’s moving so quick, I’d want them to be able to lead the communities to make the most of it, and that might be through use of technology, it might be through physical layout, it might be biophilic design.

Andy Bedwell:

There’s a lot of stuff going on that make really cool, really stimulating workplaces. I think we do as much as we can within our knowledge but it’s only in the last three or four months we’ve started using Slack, for example, so that our team can communicate together a bit more effectively, and that’s worked really well for us, but it’s taken us a while to get to that. So I think we’re not exactly leading edge with all that stuff.

Andy Bedwell:

So what would I give them? I’d probably give them, as I say, would it be conferences, would it be training? Whatever it would be to help understanding a bit more about what works in the leading edge of the cowork and office world so that we could help our members get more out of it and help us create spaces that are a bit more… even more ahead of the curve.

Luis:

Got it, got it. I’m a fan of education. Education is always awesome. It’s always a worthwhile investment. So what about yourself? What purchase has made your work life easier or more productive in the past, let’s say, six months to a year?

Andy Bedwell:

I don’t know, if I’m honest. I think probably there’s a purchase I’d like to make that I haven’t made which is… and it’s more of a service than a product, which is… We built three sites in the last two years and we plan to do another three or four next year, and I’m probably caught in that, still very much in the doing of a lot of it. So I’ll get a phone call from somebody who has locked themselves out of the office and therefore I’ve been able to log into my phone and let them back in. So I guess, product-wise, the purchase that’s allowed me to do that has made the most difference because that’s been… I’ve been able to be quite responsive to my clients and help them without having to travel two or three… whatever, an hour or so to get there. So product purchase has been that.

Andy Bedwell:

But the service purchase I probably would have like to have done is to do more outsourcing of some of that and be able to systemize the business more in order to let us grow out a little bit more. So I think that’s probably what I need to do next year.

Luis:

Sure. It’s a good time. The offer is awesome.

Andy Bedwell:

Great. Thank you.

Luis:

Sorry?

Andy Bedwell:

No, great. I think that’s probably it. Like most of our clients, I think the challenge is to move from doing it to running it. So I think we feel the pain the same as a lot of our clients feel the pain. So anything that would help to sort that out would be welcome.

Luis:

All right. So what book, or books, have you gifted the most?

Andy Bedwell:

It’s actually an old book that was really informative for me, so going back 20, 30 years, and it was a book by Professor Richard Wiseman, who’s a psychologist at Hatfield University. He was a professor of psychology. He wrote a book called The Luck Factor. So it’s not one of the popular… in the press now. He did a bit of science around what was lucky, was there such a thing as luck, and he did a whole load of experiments.

Andy Bedwell:

The long and short of it was, he kind of categorized what people thought about as lucky. So, “I had a lucky experience,” “I bumped into somebody,” “I found something,” things like that. I guess he distilled it down in terms of actually, it’s not chance. The people that were making the most of those experiences, or the people that gave themselves the greatest chance to get experiences, were, not surprisingly, the luckier ones. So it’s the old quote of, “The harder I practice, the luckier I get,” the golfer, kind of that theme.

Andy Bedwell:

So that, for me, has been a bit of a line through the last 20, 30 years about actually, put yourself out there, put the miles in. Some of the luckiest experiences I’ve had, the chance meetings, have come from the fact that I’ve just happened to be in a networking event that I wasn’t sure about attending or not, and I thought, “You know what? I’m just going to give it a go.” So just being out there and putting yourself in that environment was quite important. So I think the luck factor for me was huge.

Andy Bedwell:

I think in common with a lot of people, the Covey’s 7 Habits, a while ago, really got me thinking about what was important to me and getting a really clear set of life goals. So they’re both quite old books but have both stayed with me over the years really, and have just been very informative.

Luis:

Yeah, absolutely. So I actually love that it’s a 20 year old book because I think that we tend to get very caught on what’s new and, “Oh, this new book by this new author,” et cetera, and, “It’s so great,” and people get hyped up by the new stuff. I actually think that the books that matter the most are the books that stand the test of time, the books that five years, 10 years, 20 years from publication, they are still mentioned and recommended. If I were a betting man, those are the books where I would put my chips in, right?

Andy Bedwell:

Yeah, absolutely. I think the Covey one, certainly lots of people talk about. I think the Wiseman one was probably a bit niche, even back then. I think they just work and they just resonate. There are books out there that are solid now. If I’m honest, I don’t do a huge amount of business book reading. I find a lot of them… say the same old things in different ways.

Andy Bedwell:

So some of the real stories. There’s one I’ve just been reading at the moment, One Plus One Equals Three, which has been… it’s kind of short burst real stories. I quite like that because it’s just real and you can dip into it. So I tend to go for stuff that I can quite quickly identify with, or the stuff that’s stayed with me over time, and I think some of those, as you say, are really powerful.

Luis:

Got it, got it. I know you have to stop soon so I want to be respectful of your time. I do have one last question. Let’s say that you are hosting a dinner at a Chinese restaurant, a dinner where there’s going to be a round table about the future of work and remote work. To this dinner, and to this round table, you are inviting a host of the most important decision-makers from several tech companies. We’re talking about the CEOs, the CTOs, the hiring managers from tech companies from all around the globe. Because it’s a Chinese restaurant and you are the host, there’s a Chinese fortune cookie involved. So what is the fortune that you’re going to write to be inside the fortune cookie?

Andy Bedwell:

Right. Something like create a positive vibe. I know that sounds a bit naff.

Luis:

Well, no, if that’s what you feel, that’s what you feel.

Andy Bedwell:

Let me explain what I mean by that. I think there’s a lot of negativity. Particularly in the current world, there’s a lot of downbeat stuff goes on, a lot of time people focus on problems. I think that we’ve all got a responsibility as business leaders, of whatever sized business we’re running, is just create the right environment for people to work in, create a positive environment. So maybe it’s create a positive environment rather than a positive vibe, but emphasize the positive, not the negative, get people to connect.

Luis:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Andy Bedwell:

Want to work. 

Luis:

Yeah. I do feel that that hit the nail on the head. Look, there’s stuff like coworking spaces. More and more companies let you be flexible, let you get work from home, and sometimes we act as if we are living in the worst age ever. Actually, things have never been so good. We have problems, of course, every year has its problems. But we do, and you are at the forefront of that, as I like to think that we are, work is getting a lot better than it used to be. So there’s reasons to be positive.

Andy Bedwell:

Yeah, absolutely. I think the more you emphasize the negative, the more negative you feel. Always finding a way to do stuff. I think there’s loads of reasons to be positive. The whole birth of coworking in the last four or five years and networking has just been… it’s created a different environment, and people love it, and it’s released people from durgy office buildings. I’ve never enjoyed working more than I am at the moment, and that’s because I enjoy what I’m doing.

Andy Bedwell:

So I think there’s a lot more opportunity now for people to do what they enjoy doing. When I started work a good number of years ago, there was almost an accepted path that you had to go through and I think that doesn’t exist now, which is fantastic. So you can choose your path and go with it, and I think if we can create environments where people can do that and support them and help them on the journey, then all the better.

Luis:

Oh, yeah, absolutely. That’s a great note to end on, Andy. I think this is a wrap. So please, before we say our goodbyes, tell our listeners where they can continue the conversation with you and how they can find out more about working at your coworking spaces.

Andy Bedwell:

Thank you very much. So we’ve got three sites, depending on your geography. So Perch Coworking is our coworking space, which is at perchcoworking.co.uk, and if you click on the Pioneer Square link on the right-hand side of that, if you click on that, that’ll take you through to our cowork site in Bicester.

Andy Bedwell:

Then we’ve got two serviced offices, one which is markethouseaylesbury.co.uk, one is guardianhousebanbury.co.uk., which are our serviced office sites. So those are the three geographies that we operate.

Andy Bedwell:

If you want to drop me an email, which is [email protected], I’ll be delighted to hear from you.

Luis:

Okay. Well, I was delighted to hear from you, Andy. It was a pleasure having you on. Thank you so much.

Andy Bedwell:

Thank you, Luis. All the best.

Luis:

And so we close another episode of the DistantJob Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please, you can help us out by sharing it on social media. That would be great. It’s how we reach more listeners, and the more listeners we have, the more awesome guests I can get in touch and convince to participate in these conversations that are a joy to have for me, and I hope they’re a joy for you to listen to as well.

Luis:

You can also help a lot leaving reviews on iTunes or your podcast syndication service of choice. Reviews are surprisingly helpful in helping the podcast get to more listeners.

Luis:

Now, another thing that you might want to do is go to distantjob.com/blog/podcasts. Click on your favorite episode, and any episode really, and subscribe. By subscribing, you will get a notification whenever a new episode is up, and whenever we get the transcripts of the episodes up, so you can actually peruse the conversations in text form.

Luis:

And, of course, if you need to find a great employee for your team, a great remote employee, you should take the whole world into consideration and not just look to hire locally, not just look to hire in your country. Look around the whole world because that’s the talent pool that contains the best talent. To help you with that, again, distantjob.com is the perfect place to start. You will tell us who we need and we will make sure that you get the best possible candidate, 40% faster than the industry standard.

Luis:

With that, I bid you adieu. See you next week on the next episode of DistantJob Podcast.

More ways to listen:

In this episode, Andy Bedwell covers in detail, the list of advantages offered by coworking spaces, including innovation and networking opportunities, in a relaxed and supportive environment.

Coworking is a fast-growing global trend, mostly embraced by startups, small companies, entrepreneurs, and freelancers, but remote workers are starting to welcoming it too due to its benefits. While working from home can be an excellent option for some remote workers, others are having trouble focusing in a home office, so they prefer to work in a coworking location where they can feel like being part of a community, thus avoiding loneliness. Not only that, but there is an educational and networking component to it. 

Recommended books

The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman