Flexible working isn’t the way of the future. It’s right here, right now.
But working from home isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Whether you’re a sole trader, freelancer, consultant or running a small business, working from home can be isolating and lonely.
And staying motivated is tough when the lawn needs mowing, the children are homeschooled or the dog wants to play.
Traditional shared or co-working spaces offer an opportunity for people to get out of the house and “go to work”, but often they’re still flying solo – just in a different space.
Enter Swaroop Kaushik, CEO and founder of JAGA Workspaces.
Swaroop thought about what people needed to be productive and happy in their jobs, even when they were working alone. His solution was more than a co-working space, it was creating a professional, inspiring community.
Since 2019, Swaroop has brought together a tight community of people from various industries and helped them form new connections and improve their productivity.
He says the COVID-19 pandemic has made his flexible workspaces more sought-after as employees and small business owners seek the benefits of work-life balance, collaboration and mentorship.
“It’s a very interesting period where we are now,” Swaroop says.
“We’ve got the government pushing for people to keep working from home and the world of business is much more flexible now than it has ever been.”
The isolation, loneliness and sometimes anxiety many people felt during the lockdowns has shown business owners, employees and solopreneurs the true importance of community in the workplace.
“Being social, gathering together and routine interactions are all essential human activities that when working at home or in isolation can stall and disappear, leading to a breakdown in wellbeing, connectedness and productivity,” Swaroop says.
With 400 members in Belconnen, the workspaces are proving popular in suburban areas. Workers don’t need to drive into the city and have easy access to parking, shops and parklands.
As part of the co-working industry for 12 years, Swaroop knew there was a better way for the facilities to operate. His unique concept was inspired by going to the gym.
“I spent a lot of time actually going to gyms all around Canberra and researching why people go to the gym instead of just working out from home,” he says.
“I found most people go to the gym because they have gym buddies, they can look at what other people are doing and stay motivated.
“I wanted to apply that concept to the workplace and create happy members at the end of the day.”
Like most modern gyms, JAGA’s flexible working spaces are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week to members, they’re fully furnished and pricing includes all utilities, cleaning and unlimited fast fibre-optic secure business-grade internet and WiFi.
As well as offering private office spaces, meeting rooms, communal lounge areas and showers, the modern facilities also provide a staffed reception area to benefit all members.
But Swaroop says it’s the sense of community and inclusion that sets JAGA apart. Members take time out of their office to have lunch together in nearby parks, help each other out with business ideas and enjoy regular Friday pizza nights, Christmas parties and Melbourne Cup Day luncheons.
“I wanted to create a workspace with a sense of belonging,” he says.
“We’re a community, and we support each other. We’re not just a bunch of people sitting in rooms working in the same building.”
Swaroop also wants to help budding entrepreneurs grow their business without the hassle of “sweating about operations and support services”.
“Our focus is on the end users, so we have made simple but most effective and efficient workspaces where we take care of everything.
“We can use our extensive networks to help our members connect to the right people to grow their business.”
JAGA Workspaces operates in Swanson Court, Belconnen and Allara Street in Canberra’s CBD, with plans to expand into other suburban centres.