Carol Ho is the Chief Operating Officer of Baseworx, a company that helps hubs to better manage their co-working spaces. Their easy-to-use software means that hub managers can seamlessly oversee the day-to-day operations from their own devices. All across Ireland, the hubs on the ConnectedHubs.ie platform benefit from Baseworx’s solution – helping many of them to thrive as places where professionals from many locations can come to work and connect with the wider world.
The hub network across Ireland is key to the government’s initiative to make it easier for professionals to work remotely in a variety of locations. The push to have spaces available to work from has been catalysed by Covid and the shifting dynamics of the future of work. In Ireland, it has been encouraging to see so many new hubs opening up in recent times. However, as Carol explains, coworking has long been an existing option in other countries – and the landscape is very evolved elsewhere.
“You can see so many co-working spaces in a tiny city like Hong Kong – it’s super-competitive if you’re running a co-working space over there. They have their own territories. Over there, if you’re talking about social innovation, you go to Good Lab. If you are tech-focused, you go to Science Park. If you are a maker, you go to MakerBay. They have different themes and focuses for different hubs over there,” Carol says.
A quick look on ConnectedHubs.ie will show you that there are over 230 hubs open across the country at the time of writing – that’s quite an impressive number, and while we still have a way to go to catch up with countries like Hong Kong, it’s encouraging to see such a high number.
So, why is it that so many people are pursuing the co-working experience?
“Of course, working from home is still okay, but I do get more stuff done when I’m working in the PorterShed,” Carol explains. So, productivity is clearly a big factor in why people are ditching the kitchen table for the purpose-built desk.
But there’s another factor behind the rise of co-working spaces.
“Lots of big companies are getting rid of the office. If you’re running a business, you probably rent your own office somewhere else. But right now, a lot of big corporates have started to rent desks in the co-working space because it’s handy – they save time, they save the maintenance, and they reduce cost,” Carol says.
In addition, people view co-working spaces as a way to reconnect with the real world. Many professionals are still re-emerging back into office life, and some are still looking for ways to do so gradually. For many people, co-working spaces offer a chance to do exactly this. Ultimately, co-working spaces provide the sweet spot between traditional offices and remote working. Worldwide, too, that trend is clear – a recent newsletter from The Hustle explains that analysts are predicting approximately 42,000 coworking spaces globally in 2024, an increase of 116 percent when compared to 2020.
As Carol explains, these hubs are having a positive knock-on effect around the country.
“We see the benefits of Connected Hubs – it’s definitely supporting the development of the countryside of Ireland, bringing the jobs, and helping to boost the economy of the countryside areas.”
The ConnectedHubs.ie website, which is managed by Baseworx, is clearly in high demand, and Carol explains that they have big plans in store for the site in the near future – both in Ireland and internationally.
“We are launching version two of Connected Hubs, so that’s one of our flagship projects that we’re working on at the moment. Right now, we are pretty much focused on the Connected Hubs projects because it’s such an important government initiative. I’m spending lots of time talking to many of the hub managers to get their feedback on the software to understand what features they want to get.
“We are taking in some interns from Limerick and Cork – graduate students from some of the colleges there. So, we are doing a summer internship programme and spending some time training the students up. And they will help us with some of the international market research. Because apart from Ireland, we are looking at some other countries to see if other countries could have the same model.”
Back home, the focus of course is on continuing to help hubs harness the power of the Connected Hubs platform through the Baseworx software.
A lot of talk continues to centre around the future of work and what it will look like in the next five to 10 years. An important topic of conversation, for sure, but what does Carol think about the future of co-working? Will we see even further revitalisation of rural areas in Ireland in the near future?
“I just think that probably we will have more young families moving back to the countryside area and that way they won’t need to stay in the city with the high living expenses and all that. But it will take a while. Right now the government is trying to build loads of infrastructure to support that, but it will take some time,” the Baseworx COO said.
In the meantime, your local hub awaits with high-speed broadband, coffee, and the facilities needed to get work done, no matter where you are. The future can wait, for now.
By Trevor Murray