Nest Coworking — The Future of Work. You’re invited.

Celebrating rad working communities all over the globe! In this edition of community shoutout we chat to Jay from Nest Coworking, a coworking space open to all freelancers, knowledge workers and coworkers from all disciplines, based in Melbourne, Australia. 

Can you give us a brief intro to Nest, your story and what you’re all about?

At Nest we break things down into two things: you have the space and you have the people. We focus on interdisciplinary collaboration, conscious relationships, and building knowledge through sharing ideas. Sound and consciousness are passions at Nest — our designed acoustics are a foundation that supports our work and relationships. Nest is a place created to help people change their lives every day, through purposeful work, great community, connection and resources. The space is designed to accommodate everything you need for a fantastic day’s work.

“Coworking creates value through space and people.”

The power of sound

Nest is one of the most heavily designed workspaces, well certainly that I’ve ever worked out of. Although it’s aesthetic is pretty to look at, it’s actually the sound the space produces that is the fundamental design intention. The genesis of that was actually visiting 25–30 coworking spaces around the United States, Europe and Asia when I was in the initial design & planning phase. I came to the realisation that the majority of the spaces I stepped foot in had a problem with sound. It was a contrasting spectrum between being too bright and loud like a buzzing cafe where you’d get exhausted after 45 minutes of work, to the polar opposite, where the atmosphere is so dead, that you just felt uncomfortable having a conversation — it’s just awkward!

After coming back to Australia after conducting this fieldwork, I came back and chatted with a friend who designs sound recording studios for a living. Together we would spend a lot of time talking and thinking about sound and sensory design, and how we could implement these methodologies into a workplace. Using specially designed wall panelling and a sound recording influenced floor, we were able to filter out the mid and high-frequency parts of the human voice. This allows us to sit around and feel comfortable in the same space within close proximity of one another, but not feel overwhelmed by any sounds that are happening.

“Nest is very special in the sense that you visually feel connected to people, but acoustically can concentrate on your own work. What this means is there is a lot more opportunities between people, to create connections of meaning that aren’t just accidental, but begin with you overhearing something.”

How was Nest born? 

From running personal projects & working on my businesses from home, I needed a space to separate work from life, a place to collaborate more freely. I took the lease up without even knowing what coworking was, with the intention of using the top floor as a clubhouse for myself to work on my projects, and then renting out the bottom floor to my mates who were going to run their shop out of the space. I signed the lease on that basis, but then they bailed out! I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, a bit up in the air about what to do.

“I started imagining about being a kind of office real estate agent, and the thought of that just made my soul shrivel, I just couldn’t do that”.

I started googling around about shared workspaces, and one inspired night of discovery I found out about the coworking movement, this is back in 2011 so the concept was still relatively young. I had an explosion of energy when I came to the realisation that I could combine my passions for social change, self-started business and entrepreneurship into a physical space, not just for myself, but a place for others to do their thing.

“And then I got obsessed with design”

The build process and renovation took a lengthy 18 months to complete, it was a fit-out from the ground up. We did the floors, the walls and the ceilings. A lot of tedious planning went into the build process — we spent 3 months alone studying old images of the way different workspaces through history have been spatially designed. At the start of the process I would have never described myself as a designer but over the course of the fit out, I found a strong passion for design! Working hands-on with a physical space, an architect and interior designers sparked my obsession. It would be a crime not to mention Nick Harding, the architect I collaborated with on the project of designing and building Nest. 

At Nest you offer just Hot Desks as opposed to permanent desks, what’s your reasoning for this?

That was part of us wanting to take hotdesking from the periphery of both the business model of coworking, but also the experience of coworking. I believe if we want to participate in changing our personal work relationships, we need to make an effort to not just unconsciously recreate the spatial design of dated working patterns. Desks, computers, chairs and almost all office furniture are designed in the context of old work patterns. The concept of only hotdesking is designed to combat the territiorial nature of how people traditionally use and interact within the workspace.

What kind of people & professions work from Nest?

Nest is incredibly diverse. From novelists, to lawyers, from freelancers to social entrepreneurs. We’re home to individuals and teams. The conversations that they create resource people to make amazing changes in their lives, and really make their work purposeful.

Your tagline is “The Future of Work. You’re invited” what does the future of work look like in your eyes? 

I think the future of work is “play” in multiple senses. What will make sense is people doing stuff for work what they enjoy doing. Why? Because they’ll be really good at it! I also believe that the future of work is non-coercive — the structures of employment and collaboration will be something where people can freely step in and out of with real agency and choice. A lot has to change and it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight, but I believe Nest and coworking, in general, is a huge step in the right direction.

“We need communities for people to feel a connection with, combatting isolation & loneliness in the workplace. My vision for the future is like a multiplicity of pluralised pockets of communities, that people drop in and out of working collaboratively under make ‘0f their own accord”. 

What makes up a good community resident? 

I’ve thought about this one a lot! When people come into the space as members I make a personal commitment to them, to steward their experience. This means making sure that every new member has the capacity to participate in the community. It’s the simplest of recipes for the complex awesomeness of community! The primary traits that I think make for good community members are respect, curiosity and the capacity to listen.

What the members have to say!

Nest’s awesome members do big work in little Thornbury’s neighbourhood every day!

“The community here at Nest is really geared for support, encouragement, positive energy and openness with one another. The support at Nest extends way beyond professional realms, and well into the personal. It’s not the kind of thing you can just explain and list as a service offering on a website, it only becomes apparent when you experience it for yourself.” 
Jason Ferris, Co-founder at Top Shed.

We loved spending time with Jay, learning about Nest and of course, meeting Champ! Thanks to Jay for chatting with us — show him and Nest some love by following them on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and checking out their website!

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