Is the communal office art of the ‘new norm’?

Charles Skene opened a business centre in Rubislaw Den North, Aberdeen, in the early 1980s. Over the years, he has added two further sites at Queen’s Gardens and Rosemount Viaduct.

Charles started promoting entrepreneurship across Scotland in 1986 and agrees with Adam Smith’s principle that the creation of wealth for you and your family increases the wealth of the nation. As well as being an entrepreneur all his working life, he is also a Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Robert Gordon University and is passionate about encouraging young people to understand entrepreneurship and its important role in the economy of Scotland.

In line with this ethos, all Skene Business Centres are staffed, and fully furnished with board and meeting rooms which are instantly available to clients who pay only for the time they use them. Among the options on offer are virtual offices, shared offices and one to eight desk offices which are ideal for a wide variety of businesses to allow people to be up and running within 24 hours.

Their system of renting allows companies to move to a bigger or smaller office as required. This ability to adjust costs allows businesses to contract or expand, an attractive option to many, including those faced with the temporary downturn of oil and gas.

Charles Skene remains convinced that the billions of barrels of oil which remain under the North Sea will remain important to the north-east economy for the years ahead. In view of the current economic climate he has decided to encourage new start-ups with a very special offer whereby rent will be phased over the first year. This, he believes, will make it even more attractive for those young entrepreneurs to take the decision to start their own business.

The group dynamic of shared space also forms excellent networking opportunities and can be a hothouse environment for innovation. The shared office facilitates the creation of ideas and minimises the financial burden while offering a variety of spaces for working together.

For Maeghan Cuthill, manager of Skene Business Centres, this shift towards collaboration through shared space has particular relevance to how businesses use offices.

She said: “Over the past few years, the trend for flexible home-working led to a more communal approach to working, but the shared office space is now an important facility for some people and increases their ability to network.

“As the oil and gas sector continues to experience turmoil, companies are being forced to work smarter and this means cost efficiencies and innovation are even more important – virtual, serviced and shared office space meets the criteria of what everyone is now calling ‘the new norm’.”

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