Using Modular and Flex Spaces to Foster Collaboration

By Kait Hobson
November 15, 2018

‘Agile’ has been a buzzword affecting the workplace for the past few years—large companies want to offer high-end amenities, like corporate players, but simultaneously want to be agile, like startups. We spoke with Rishi Chowdhury, co-founder of IncuBus and Momentum London, about the future of flexible workspaces. About four years ago, he and his friend quit their jobs and bought a double-decker bus that they turned into an office. Their plan was to run a startup incubator, then they began getting corporate clients, like PWC.

“We started seeing loads of different areas where there was a need for the corporate side of things, or momentum, and that was very much focused around B2B startups to better help them validate their proposition,” Chowdhury says.

Flex spaces imply a certain mobility—to grow, change or alter as a company’s needs shift; Chowdhury realized that space needs to be flexible to provide a solution that supports the evolving demands of workers. In his attempts to bridge the gap between corporate and startup culture, he realized that working together on projects isn’t enough to foster collaboration—rather, the space is often the conductor of collaboration, flexibility and open-mindedness. His company, IncuBus, provides these spaces for projects to thrive.

“Our flexible modular workspace designs allow for fit-outs to be completed faster and for spaces to be more flexible and adapt with the people and projects within a space,” Chowdhury says.

These can include enterprise companies and future-thinking corporates who own real estate assets, that Chowdhury helps activate and can build-out in less than a day, for commercial innovation.

“This drives up property yields and fosters new product opportunities for the company,” he says. “Forming creative co-creation communities with the best talent.”

He offers a turnkey service—from location scouting to design and concept. He runs the space, after setting it up, so that the operational aspect is taken care of—allowing the right communities and companies to reach the space’s projected outcome. These designs are often pop-ups or former, underutilized, space in a company’s building.

Understand How the Space is Used

Chowdhury supports the collaborative aspect by using a space API. He aggregates smart technology and retrofits that into existing spaces to let people better understand what’s working and what’s not.

“We’ve essentially gone and said here's what you told us are your requirements and here’s how we propose you accomplish it with your own space,” he says. He justifies the choices and negotiates a budget based on delivering his clients’ goals.

Space Impacts Culture

During partnerships or collaborative projects, people often come from different worlds. He believes having a space dedicated to a project helps them accomplish it faster.

“Otherwise things tend to stagnate in the existing environment and you’re surrounded by day-to-day stuff,” Chowdhury says. “Once you have a break and take it out of that space your brain switches to focus on this specific project.”

This allows the internal political issues, that are inherent in offices, to fall away. “A space that has less red tape, where you can work with specific technology that might otherwise just get stuck in the pipeline, so that’s the real benefit,” Chowdhury says.

He helps companies to leverage all their assets and deepens them by bridging the gap between startups, that often have the best brand and technology, and large corporations, who have more access to resources and talent. “Putting these two together you can really get something,” Chowdhury says.

Chowdhury’s technology layer allows companies to better understand what works—projects are easier to track because it gives them a comprehensive view of layout and operational efficiencies, allowing companies to make adjustments to improve productivity and to further reduce costs in the moment—rather than realizing these inefficiencies in retrospect.

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Phone-based systems are not just a small-business solution. CEO of Kisi, Bernhard Mehl, comments: “If you see the average of three doors connected then that might seem low but, in reality, one door relates to around 50 employees—so those are locations with about 150 people on average, including satellite offices. That’s quite significant.”

Mobile Access Control Adoption by Industry

Kisi examined which industries are investing the most in mobile access control technology. To do so, the average size of mobile access control installation projects by industry were measured. Commercial real estate topped the list with 23.5 doors running mobile access per facility. Education management came in last with 1.0 door running mobile access per facility. 

Physical Security Statistics: Mobile Access by Industry


The number of shooting incidents at K-12 schools, according to the CHDS, reached an all-time high at 97 incidents in 2018—compared to 44 in 2017. Cloud-based access control companies, like Kisi, offer a lockdown feature for active shooter situations or emergencies, making it an effective protective layer for places that are targeted, such as religious institutions, which come in near the top of the list with 4.0 doors running mobile access per facility. 

Based on industry size, it makes sense that commercial real estate tops the list, with 23.5 doors running mobile access per facility. Cloud-based access control enables these larger organizations to scale more seamlessly and allows large organizations, like telecommunications, to deploy the most manageable IT solutions available, eliminating the need to create and manage a business’s own IT infrastructure over time.

“Commercial real estate is, of course, the driver of mobile adoption since they have the largest buildings,” Mehl adds. “The key here is to show that mobile-first technologies are not a risk but an innovation that brings positive ROI and allows agencies to reposition their buildings as forward-thinking establishments.”

The scalabelilty and ease of use in onboarding an organization allows many different types of industries and businesses of different sizes to adapt a cloud-based access control system, either using keycard or mobile credentials for access. 


Mobile Access Control by State

Looking specifically at the United States, Kisi analyzed in which states companies are investing the most into upgrading to smartphone-enabled access systems. Of the currently installed base of access control readers, around 20 percent will be mobile capable by 2022, according to a recent IHS report. Cloud-based systems, like Kisi, are future-proof—allowing over-the-air updates in real time and unlimited scalability for users.


“Mobile unlock technology makes you think of the major tech hubs like New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles,” Mehl adds. “Looking at which states have the largest projects, it’s surprising and refreshing that those are not the typical ‘tech cities, and yet that’s where access control technology really makes an impact.” The fact that the largest projects are seen in states outside of the typical tech startup landscape is evidence that mobile access control is highly applicable across industry sectors.


For further questions about this study, reach out to Kait Hobson (kait@getkisi.com)

Kait Hobson

Workplace Innovation

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