Sam Ali established COMMUNE in an industrial building in Newtown two-and-a-half years ago to create the ideal co-working environment for freelancers like himself. “I hear from a lot of people it’s a relaxed space they can be productive in,” says Ali.
Aesthetically, it’s a beautiful example of a repurposed industrial zone, with high ceilings, exposed brick and polished concrete. Ali’s next goal is to extend and improve the space via a Pozible campaign to raise $30,000. “We did a lot of research into how to create flow through the office,” says Ali. The distinction between personal and public will be bridged in the new space with modular desk spaces fitting together in a puzzle-like way to accommodate teams. Half walls and glass dividers will encourage communication and collaboration, yet provide a distinct area for teams without interrupting office flow.
While the freedom the freelancer has to work from home is the envy of many, isolation and procrastination can easily harm productivity. “You wake up, stay in your pyjamas, do some work here and there, have a nap and watch Ellen only to put things off for ‘tomorrow’,” says Ali. “It’s like that for pretty much every person who comes in here.”
The new environment will offer space for approximately 40 people with 20 full-time spots and another 20 “hot deskers”.
The space will offer educational events and networking opportunities for people starting out. “A big part of it will be that we will be hosting workshops and talks by professionals who can give skills-based advice,” says Mahira Sobral, marketing director.
COMMUNE also operates a fully-fledged photography studio which can be used by members at a discounted rate.
“Being surrounded by people who understand how the industry works, but who have different skills really helps,” says Mahira. “It’s a harmonious environment and people tend to try help each other. We encourage people to talk and build each other up for jobs.” There are many examples of creatives who have built relationships that have evolved into mutually beneficial working relationships.
“We need $30,000 to finish the space. Every desk, every chair, the staff and the software to run the whole thing adds up,” says Ali. With 70 per cent of funding already sourced, donations will help pull it all together. “We want people to be a part of this space and become founding members,” says Ali.