Flywheel Coworking is a space based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They define themselves as an innovation space, where entrepreneurs and other professionals can come together to work, meet and collaborate. In addition to building a dynamic community for their members, Flywheel is also currently exploring ways in which social workspaces can connect with more conventional corporations.
We spoke with Flywheel’s community manager, Jennifer Berg, to find out more about why traditional companies are gravitating to more open workspaces.
Hi, Jennifer. How do you view an open office and does it represent a new model of work?
An open office is a workspace that while designed to be a productive atmosphere, also encourages communication and socialization. It is easy for people to assume that an open office comes with plenty of distractions, but what we’ve noticed is that the variety of spaces and people within our space help to keep people motivated. When the majority of people in the space are working and focused, you really don’t want to be the only one who isn’t!
What would we see if we walked into Flywheel?
Our space is about 11,000 square feet, with plenty of work space options. In addition to open desk space, we also have enclosed offices, meeting rooms, and soft seating throughout the area. There’s also a pool hall, which includes a pool table, dart board, coffee and beer bars, which is adjacent to our quarter-scale basketball court.
Why is space design important for productivity?
The design of the space is so important because of the options it provides to our members. It’s essential that people realize that our coworking space does not tie you down to one specific location. Instead, it gives you the opportunity to move around throughout the day, and try out new and creative workspaces.
What kinds of members typically join Flywheel and what services do you offer them?
We have a variety of members, ranging from entrepreneurs/solopreneurs/startups, to consultants and freelancers, to professionals who work for established companies but have the opportunity to work outside the office. All memberships include Wi-Fi, free coffee and water, free beer on tap. We also offer an allotment of free meeting room hours each month, as well as a discount on the hourly rate for anyone who exceeds their allotment in addition to free (or heavily discounted) admittance to our events, classes and other programming
In your opinion, how has the development of social workplaces influenced contemporary work culture?
I believe that it helps to foster a new type of creative atmosphere, where regardless of your background or experience, you want to jump and help where you can. I’ve watched people meet here at Flywheel, and within two or three days, they are collaborating or even just helping out with thoughtful advice or ideas. It’s rewarding to see how much people want to help other people, even if they’re just new acquaintances!
What does a social work environment offer that a traditional one does not?
It definitely offers a creative atmosphere. It also gives an opportunity to network and learn more about other professional areas. It’s wonderful to watch new members interact and learn about professions that they never even knew existed!
Today we see larger companies/corporations gravitating towards social workplaces, why do you think that is?
I believe that it’s due to the fact that it gives their employees more variety, whether it’s in their physical desk location, or with the people they interact with throughout the day. In my opinion, variety keeps people focused and motivated, and helps reduce the risk of boredom/lack of focus.
Does Flywheel have any corporate members?
We do. We have corporate partners (similar to sponsors), as well as members who have chosen to come and work out of Flywheel. With the members, most of them have the opportunity to work from home/remotely, and have found that they aren’t as productive in their home offices, or prefer being around people.
Why do you think that they chose Flywheel and do they feel a more social work environment has contributed to their success?
With the corporate partners, they see this as an opportunity to not only be supportive of the professional and entrepreneurial community in Winston-Salem, but also as a way to show how their services can beneficial to a variety of professions.