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26.04.2018 Back to Blog articles

Are Rural Coworking Hubs the Future of the Rural Economy?

YES. Supporting rural business is really paying off.

Let's talk about shared office space out in the sticks: coworking spaces not in a swarming sweaty city or a bustling market town, but in rural areas, where the sun smiles down on rolling rapeseed fields, where playful rabbits race and endearingly tumble, and where rosy-cheeked dairymaids rise at cockcrow in readiness to toil, against a lilting soundtrack of sweet symphonic birdsong...

Is a 'hot desk' in the countryside ostensibly a wonky little table set up in a pungent straw-strewn farmyard in deepest Shropshire in blazing August? Erm, no. And 'hot desking' isn't even the right name for shared office space anymore! Not really. These days, it's all about cool and SO on-trend desk sharing spaces, made available to the self-employed, start-ups, small companies, SMEs, or even directly employed people.

Shared office space provided for business professionals from a broad range of industries is massively popular in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Belfast and just about every British city; and it's becoming all the rage in rural areas, with many rural coworking hubs already being well-established. That's great for all types of business professionals without fast and easy access to cities and large towns, and it's making a considerable contribution to rural economies, east, south, north and west.

Living the Good Life in a pastoral idyll is a fantasy that many of us have entertained at some point or another, isn't it? Leaving all the stresses and strains of city life behind and heading out to rustic bliss can feel almost dreamlike, as images are quickly conjured in the mind of picture postcard cottages, cream teas, family walks with the dog, tasty ploughman's lunches in The Drunken Duck beside the river... and then an unhurried stroll home down winding country lanes, well in time for Emmerdale. Working in a shared office space in a rural area means that you can realise the dream of escaping the daily punishing commute into the city, whilst simultaneously thriving in the professional business world. Wow. Who'd have ever thought it? And, if you already live in a rural area, like so many other professionals, working at your home office a couple of days per week, and sometimes building your business as a coworker at a location where there's a lovely sense of community and inclusion, could prove ideal.

A huge problem for so many self-employed professionals is feeling unable to cope with the seclusion of working alone, all day, every day. It can drive even the most determined start-up warrior back to the directly employed workforce, in fact. By opting instead to work in a shared office building – a dedicated contemporary facility, purpose-built to meet the needs of committed professionals (and maybe the odd creative dreamer!) – you slay the isolation monster in one stroke. Whilst benefiting from gratis car parking, get access to a shared internet connection (usually free Wi-Fi), refreshments, a desk space as a dedicated area to work, and maybe a printer with photocopying also being an option, during business hours (and at some rural locations, 24/7), and love the fact that the whole deal is entirely affordable too.

All this is helping professionals to keep costs down as they look to network and grow their businesses, whilst simultaneously boosting the rural economy, which – no longer being primarily reliant upon traditional farming and other agricultural practices – needs to always find ways to remain sustained financially. Research is undertaken by think-tanks and rural affairs-focused groups, such as the Centre for Rural Economy in the North East (CRE), for example, has revealed that the growing popularity of shared office spaces in country areas is more than playing its part in generating revenue for a broad range of businesses. This is leading to strengthened stability and increased prosperity for all. In fact, Britain's rural areas have reached a point now where their regional economies claim that desk sharing's "the new sheep shearing!"

Well, almost.

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