Complete with bean bags, wi-fi and a pedal-powered device recharge station, Sydney's Wynyard Park was converted into a shared outdoor office on Thursday to promote "co-worker" spaces for entrepreneurs.
Huddled over laptops around common tables were co-workers from the 10 shared office spaces that have popped up in Sydney in the past five years. For a membership fee of about $150-a-month, co-workers can enjoy a desk in an open-plan office, wi-fi, kitchen and printing facilities, and access to meeting rooms and "break-out" spaces.
With an open-mic networking session and a platform for four-minute "lightning" talks, the event focused on the collaborative benefits of co-working as opposed to the more traditional serviced offices.
According to event organiser Caroline McLaren from Hub Sydney, co-working is more than affordable office space, it's the workplace of the future.
"We know that the magic of social and creative entrepreneurial projects lies at the intersection of people, ideas and resources. Co-working seeks to foster and connect individuals to provide the opportunity to network, connect and even collaborate," she said.
"We believe that the future of work will be different. People are leveraging technology to work in new ways and want the flexibility to work when they want, where they want and with whom they want.
"With co-working, you don't just walk into an office, you walk into a community."
In May this year, Hub Sydney will open its first hosted co-worker space in Darlinghurst with a planned 200 workstations over two levels. Hub membership will include access to any of the 35 Hub locations worldwide, including Melbourne, as well as organised learning and social networking events.
The building will also house one of the three City of Sydney creative co-worker subsidised spaces, an initiative which according to Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, is an important part of the Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan.
"Co-working spaces are a terrific way to foster collaboration and innovation. The outcome is a more creative Sydney," she said.
Meredith Cranmer from Because Brand Experience shares an office with thirty others at YourDesk in Surry Hills. Decamped to the park for the day with many of her co-workers, Meredith is happy to be helping promote the working environment she has found so beneficial to her start-up.
"Co-sharing a space means you can get a network happening really quickly. It's definitely fast- tracked our business," she said.
"We're great believers in working with specialists and co-working has made it easy to find social media or web experts for example. It's like LinkedIn only in person."
Rather than upgrading to a private office when income allows, Meredith is finding that many businesses are choosing to remain in co-working environments.
"Collaboration and crowd-funding: they're are not buzz words anymore, they're the way the world is going. Bigger businesses are definitely co-working because of the benefits of being around other innovators. "It doesn't matter how online things go – we need to see each other and we need to connect."