Barclays turns vault into workspace

Monday 29 December 2014

Some flexible and affordable workspace is set to become available in major locations in the UK, thanks to a leading bank.

Barclays is making these workspaces available as part of a tie-up with the charity 3Space. It will be taking four underutilised premises that it owns and turning them into collaborative working spaces for start up companies and social entrepreneurs.

Indeed, this could show a step in the right direction for a number of freelancers. For some time, limited companies, sole traders and other people setting up a business have felt restricted because they have been unable to get a space that they can work out of. Among lobby groups, this has been a point that has been pushed towards government time and again, stating that many businesses have been struggling to get an appropriate work space.

One of the issues that has stopped self employed people from obtaining a good work space is business rates, which have proved to be very costly among businesses. These are set to be reviewed in the near future, it was announced during the Autumn Statement on December 3rd.

To deal with the issue of the cost of rent, Barclays has set up the Hatch initiative to provide working space for entrepreneurs for free.

The first Hatch opened up in Oxford and three more are due to be opened in 2015. It is hoped to work as a central hub for local communities, allowing for local events and meetings to be hosted. Its chief purpose is to help businesses get off the ground and provide for a combination of social, community and creative needs.

Speaking about the Hatch initiative, chief design and digital officer at Barclays Derek White said: "One of the challenges facing fledgling enterprises today is finding affordable space in which they can experiment with ideas and foster creativity. Working with 3Space allows us to tackle this, providing a base for local entrepreneurs and social enterprises and giving them access to the support and resources they need, beyond traditional banking products and services."

As well as allowing for experimentation and innovation, the set-up will provide plenty of tools and equipment.

For example, while the Hatch in Oxford used to be a bank vault it has been transformed into a maker space. There is a 3D printer and workshop tools here and Barclays staff also promise to provide further support free of charge. Among the things they promise to provide are social media training. There will also be access to Barclays personnel who will be able to mentor entrepreneurs and help to support their business growth.

Chief executive officer and co-founder of 3Space Andrew Cribb explained his delight in having partnered with Barclays to help local business. He said: "Through our experience in transforming otherwise empty buildings across the UK we have identified a need for a type of local space where creatives, social enterprise, non-profits and local entrepreneurs can work, collaborate and experiment, creating value from an otherwise under-utilised resource, whilst also providing the foundation for sustainable local economic development."

By Victoria McDonnell

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