Businesses to benefit as flexible working spaces are extended

economy

Posted on: 14 December 2015

Business are set to benefit from Council plans to increase the availability of flexible working spaces across the county.

With an estimated 20 per cent of Devon’s workers working from home, the Council says more flexible working hubs are needed.

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, the Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for economic growth, says the county relies a great deal on its small, sometimes home-based businesses, and support to the industry makes Devon a more vibrant, prosperous and attractive place to other business looking to relocate.

In response, the Council started funding work hubs some years ago in Totnes, Tavistock and Barnstaple, with associate hubs in Exeter, East Budleigh and Torquay.

The hubs are run by local business people, and are equipped with all the technology and facilities that modern businesses need.

They’re used by people in a wide range of employment, from micro-businesses and start-ups, to freelancers and mobile staff.

This week, the Council has announced further funds to develop work hubs in up to five more towns.

It’s offering grants of up to £20,000, plus training and support to organisations who can help expand the Devon Work Hub network.

It will mean more spaces becoming available that people can use to develop their businesses, which, says Amelia Issac of the Design Shop, is essential to encouraging strong local economies.

As well as the Design Shop, Amelia runs Barnstaple’s Work Hub. She says:

“We currently have a number of creative businesses, including graphic designers, web development, photographers, as well as IT support, using our offices on a semi-permanent basis.

“The attraction for them is the availability of space on short term leases with the option to roll on as they need to. It means that they’re not tied down contractually, freeing up money that they can plough back into their businesses.

“The companionship is also an attraction for like-minded businesses. People occupy different offices, but they share other facilities, and the businesses get a lot from collaborating and sharing ideas.”

Since Barnstaple Work Hub opened in 2014, Amelia’s seen one business already outgrow the hub, expanding from one person working from home, to employing five people and moving to larger premises.

Dryrobe are manufacturers of outdoor changing robes. The business started as one man working from home, before moving to an office at Barnstaple’s work hub. They now employ 5 people and have moved to larger premises.

“We know that work hubs play an important part in the way businesses run,” says Cllr Leadbetter.

“As well having all the equipment and facilities they need, users also say that the opportunity to meet other people in similar circumstances can help spark businesses ideas.

“Work hubs should be locally owned and operated so we are keen to hear from organisations who want to work with us to expand the current Devon Work Hub network.”

The Council is inviting applicants to register their intention to bid for funds by 17:00 on Monday 21 December, by emailing Stephanie.Dykes@devon.gov.uk. The deadline for completed applications is 17:00 on Friday 29 January 2016.

For more information and guidance, visit ow.ly/VA7M0. To find out more, visit Devon’s Work Hubs.

Posted in: Business and Economy | DCC Homepage