‘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.