In our post-pandemic world, where our working lives have arguably changed forever, the migration towards remote working or ‘work from anywhere’ looks here to stay. It also means co-working spaces are now thriving and can be found in every major city across the globe. The benefits of working in a shared space are many; they include access to meeting rooms, networking opportunities and increased productivity to name a few. Recent research also found that co-working sites could help solve the loneliness of working from home. We visited Melbourne co-working space The Cluster to find out who works there, why they use this space – and their goals for the year ahead. 

Woman sits on a comfortable couch covered with cushions at a Melbourne co-working space. 
Kelly Nichols, of Humanitarian Advisory Group, meets at co-working space The Cluster for a weekly team collaboration.

Working for Good

HAG [Humanitarian Advisory Group] was set up in 2012 by four women who wanted to make a difference in the humanitarian industry. We now have a team of 16 who work remotely but, on Thursdays, the Melbourne team get together at The Cluster to collaborate and get our face-to-face fix. We find this makes a big difference. 

We’re a social enterprise and one of our main goals in the next financial year is to make enough profit so we can give away a percentage to the causes and charities that we want to support; for example, currently it might go to Ukraine or a country that has suffered through a terrible typhoon season.” – Kelly Nichols, Operations and Administration Facilitator at Humanitarian Advisory Group 

Kelly’s EOFY Tip: “Make sure you are aware of all the opportunities and allowances you’re entitled to as a small business.”

SEE ALSO: Hybrid Working: How to Achieve a Healthy Work-Life Balance 

Adam Jaffrey is founder of podcast production company Wavelength Creative, and uses the co-working space for client meetings.

Collaborate and Grow

“I’ve always loved podcasts and in 2017 I started podcast agency Wavelength Creative to help brands produce podcasts from start to finish. I started coming into The Cluster because I needed to give my working day some structure, particularly when it was just me working as a start-up. We now have a team of eight who work remotely but we use The Cluster as a physical space when we need to bring the team together to collaborate. It’s also an impressive place to bring clients for meetings!

Next financial year, we’re focusing on growing not just our client base and revenue, but our skill sets, products and team by continuing to create work that challenges us and that we’re proud of. Ultimately, my goal is to continue to run a profitable business that’s kind to our employees and does great work for our clients.” – Adam Jaffrey, Strategy Director at Wavelength Creative

Adam’s EOFY Tip: “Keep your books up-to-date as you go, rather than waiting for an ATO deadline.”

Man smiling at desk at Melbourne co-working space The Cluster.
Tony George from Performio finds a co-working space boosts his business productivity and engagement with other people. 

An Engaging Environment

“At Performio, we make incentive compensation management software [used by sales teams]. Although the company is flexible as to whether we work remotely or not, I prefer to work in the office at The Cluster. 

After working at home during COVID, I find coming into an office is more engaging and I feel like I’m more productive, too. I like the clear distinction of the workday when you’re in the office, plus being able to have face-to-face meetings with my colleagues. The social interaction with people from other businesses here is great, too, and we often catch up over lunch.” – Tony George, Lead Quality Engineer at Performio 

SEE ALSO: Teamwork Skills: 5 Tips for Better Brainstorming

Woman sits smiling at a table in a Melbourne co-working space.
Entrepreneur Ainsley Johnstone enjoys the freedom and flexibility of Melbourne co-working space The Cluster.

Flexibility for Future Planning

Think Talent, which is a specialist recruitment agency, was established by myself and my business partner (who I’ve since bought out) in 2014. We were early adoptees of The Cluster about a year later. We were attracted by the flexibility to size our office up or down when we needed it and also the concierge and meeting facilities. 

COVID was very difficult for recruitment businesses but we’re in a build-up phase again now. We plan to grow the business over the next 12 to 18 months, to the point where we have 15 to 20 staff and also an office presence in Sydney and Brisbane. It’s considered growth so that everyone is able to benefit within it.” – Ainsley Johnstone, Founder and CEO at Think Talent

Ainsley’s EOFY Tip: “My business advice for accounting is to outsource it, because it’s really specialised.”

Man looking relaxed at a desk with a plant in the background at a co-working space in Melbourne.
Ben Cusack, the entrepreneur behind Bulletpoint, enjoys his 30-minute morning walk into Melbourne co-working space The Cluster. 

Starting the Day Right

“I started coming into The Cluster a few years ago for something different. I like to listen to a motivational podcast on the 30-minute walk into the city, which means I’ve had some exercise, learnt something and then I’m ready to start my day. I started Bulletpoint 12 years ago; we help start-up companies get the research and development tax incentive (R&D), a government grant that companies can get for developing new products. 

I’ve now got four staff and a few contractors who work remotely and I utilise The Cluster as required. For the next financial year, I’ll be looking at growth with more staff and also systematising what I’ve been doing, which means I might get to work less. I also want to dabble in more content creation for the business and make videos to help people understand our subject matter, which can be a bit dense at times.” – Ben Cusack, Managing Director at Bulletpoint

Ben’s EOFY Tip: “Relating back to the R&D incentive, I would stress how important it is to keep your records and timesheets up-to-date.”

Woman at her desk resting elbow on table at Melbourne co-working space The Cluster. 
Kylie Smith is co-founder of client branding company Timplates and loves the buzz of being in a co-working space. 

Embracing the Buzz

“I started Timplates with my business partner, Tim Godbert, in 2012. He spotted a gap in the market to take a client’s branding and make it work in the documents they use, like Word and PowerPoint. Although I thought it sounded terribly dull at first, it’s been a massive success. 

We first started working at The Cluster in 2021 after we got sick of working from home. I think [the appeal of the co-working space is] productivity, having a buzz around and being somewhere where you can’t hang up washing or do dinner prep. Our goals for the next financial year include becoming big in New Zealand; we’ve got the infrastructure and entities, and now we need to start expanding.”  – Kylie Smith, Co-founder at Timplates

SEE ALSO: Tech to Buy Before End of Financial Year

Graeme Carson, of Cyan Investment Management, has a permanent desk at the co-working space, which overlooks the Yarra River.  

Impressive City Views 

“My business partner and I might be two of The Cluster’s longest-standing clients; we came here when they first opened in another location around the corner. We’re a funds-management business jointly owned by the two of us. We realised we needed to be in the city for meetings but didn’t want all the costs of setting up an office, so a co-working space suits us well. 

We’ve got permanent desks with a pretty good view overlooking the Yarra [River], and like being out with everyone else as opposed to being two finance blokes sitting in a closed office. Our goals are to keep growing our fund, and being in the office and meeting potential clients is part of that. If I never have another Zoom meeting in my life, I wouldn’t care.” – Graeme Carson, Director & Portfolio Manager at Cyan Investment Management

Graeme’s EOFY Tip: “Outsource to accountants who specifically understand your business and make sure you are structurally compliant with everything.”

What To Try 

Make WFA Work for You

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SEE ALSO: Workspace Refresh Ideas to Try Before End of Financial Year