November 14, 2022
A Bicester coworking and business hub is encouraging local workers to take advantage of support being offered to ensure flexible working remains affordable as living costs continue to rise.
Perch at The Eco Business Centre on Charlotte Avenue is highlighting the alternative option of coworking - whereby people from different companies, backgrounds and perspectives work from a shared space - through a number of funding and discount schemes aimed at entrepreneurs starting or growing a business and at existing teams working under a hybrid or remote model.
The call to freelancers, business owners, hybrid and remote workers who regularly use their home as a workspace comes after a survey revealed that 1 in 4 homeworking Brits were already planning on spending less on food to curb astronomical energy price hikes.
In response to the soaring household costs, which have driven 1 in 2 to reconsider whether they can still afford to work from home, the hub is urging budding business owners to apply for the Square One bursary. Applicants could be granted 3 months’ worth of free coworking, one-to-one business support and access to expert-delivered workshops to support the development of their enterprise.
Additional free business support for a group of prospective startup founders is launching in the new year - Startup Club will run on weekday evenings and introduces attendees to the fundamentals of business, getting them ready to leap into entrepreneurship without needing to take the risk of quitting their day job beforehand.
As 75% of surveyed homeworkers said that they felt their employer has a responsibility to provide flexible working options if it becomes too expensive to work from home, Perch is also appealing to employers to take advantage of a membership plan dedicated to helping teams find an alternative to home or office working.
Lewis Knight is Head of Sustainable Places at sustainability consultancy Bioregional, and has worked from Perch for around two and a half years. The company moved into the hub in search of a professional space where its Oxfordshire-based team could work together away from its London head office.
Lewis said that, amid rising costs and inflation, he wanted to avoid making spending cuts that affect his children: “It’s been tough trying to reduce our other outgoings to offset the increase in energy prices as we’re already fairly conscious with money, and we don’t want to have to deny our children the things they enjoy.
“It’s looking like the price hikes that are adding huge amounts to people’s bills aren’t going to come down any time soon, so I will likely spend more days per week at Perch through the winter so I don’t have to heat and power my home all day.
“The advantages to this wouldn’t only be the savings I would make on my bills - I feel a huge benefit from small things like the journey home to wind down from a day working at the hub, and the separation between the work and home environments.
“I would urge anyone feeling the strain of rising living costs and the pressures of working life to consider joining a coworking community where you can navigate professional and personal challenges with the support of those around you. You may start with household savings in mind, but you will certainly stay for the opportunities to learn, grow and achieve that are available through coworking.”
Perch is operated by coworking and small business experts, Town Square Spaces Ltd (TownSq), on behalf of Cherwell District Council.
Lucy Wendon, Community Manager at Perch, said: “In recent years, there has been huge disruption to the status quo of working routines with remote and hybrid models becoming immensely popular, and 9-5 five-day office weeks falling increasingly out of favour with workers.
“However, with so many people struggling with the costs of working from home, there is cause for concern that the progress already made to transform working lives could be at stake.
“By providing support at Perch, we want to ensure that coworking is an affordable way to retain these freedoms, striking that balance between flexibility and accessibility. It’s also a fantastic network builder - the natural friendships that form between coworkers allow people to share experiences, learn from one another and often develop partnerships and professional collaborations.”
“If anyone is worried about their current situation or wants to find out more about how we could offer a helping hand during this tough time, the best thing to do is to get in touch and find out how we can help!”
To find out more about the support available at Perch, book a tour.