Fostering Small Businesses Under One Roof with Jonathan of The Coalface
When you think of London’s booming tech and start-up scene, you can save yourself a commute to city centre and look no further than The Coalface in Finsbury Park. As the first coworking space in the neighborhood, The Coalface welcomes a range of small businesses with private offices and thoughtful open spaces to encourage that organic meeting. We spoke to Chief Operating Officer, Jonathan Hausmann, to learn more about the bold space, events, and the Finsbury Park entrepreneurial scene.
Tell us about the Coalface community and the start-up scene in Finsbury Park.
Finsbury Park is a really exciting place to be for small businesses. There’s so much happening here at the moment, and the area has such a diverse business and cultural community. We can really see how the area will benefit from the arrival of a business hub like The Coalface and providing a place where people can work alongside each other, and support and inspire each other. We have attracted a whole variety of businesses, from technology entrepreneurs; creative artists and designers; charities… as well as some of the more traditional businesses, in finance and consulting. The mix works really well, and there’s a real energy here. And with so much redevelopment in the area, we expect the Finsbury Park business community to continue to grow.
What is Finsbury Park like and can you tell us more about what sets the Coalface apart because of this location?
Probably the main differentiator with The Coalface is our location. We are the first coworking space to open in Finsbury Park, and it’s such a fantastic place to be based. Most of the coworking facilities currently on offer are based centrally, and their prices reflect this. We offer our members a really high-quality space that is genuinely affordable and ideal for entrepreneurs and start-ups who are increasingly being priced out of Central London, and are fed up with working out of a coffee shop.
There is a clear market for a more affordable space outside of the City. Finsbury Park is close to the creative hubs of Hackney and Shoreditch and is ideal for people who need to travel in and out of the City Centre for meetings. Near tons of public transport, you can be there in 10 minutes.
The site is also great for people travelling into London from commuter routes that come into Finsbury Park station, like Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. People now don’t need to continue their journeys into central London and pay a premium for the privilege of working there.
How do you thoughtfully cultivate community in The Coalface space?
We are really keen to promote community within the Coalface space, and so are mindful of ensuring there are a range of ways in which we can help foster collaboration amongst our members. We offer business networking and social events each month, and of course more informally our members can chat in the shared kitchen and breakout spaces.
We’ve partnered with an incredible organisation called Creative Debuts which works to champion upcoming artists, so we have some great art on display in the office. It’s all for sale, but we also provide our members with opportunities to win some of the art, and they can also have a say on what is displayed, so they really have a chance to shape the environment in which they work.
We also look to our broader local community of businesses, to build relationships that our members can benefit from, like discounts at local cafes and sports or cultural facilities. We recently gifted one of our neighbours, Park Theatre, a free office too. They are an incredible part of the Finsbury Park community and were really short of space for the team that runs the theatre, but as a charity, which receives no public subsidy, they couldn’t afford to hire anywhere. We are really excited that they will be joining the Coalface community.
What’s the history of the name? Why The CoalFace?
The Coalface name honours the industrial heritage of the location. Finsbury Park was an important hub for the coal industry. Wells Terrace itself housed a coal depot dating back to the 1800s.
What’s your best advice for anyone new coming into a coworking space? What’s the best way to network and meet other entrepreneurs?
It really depends what you want to get out of it. Most coworking spaces have the vast majority of their desks in shared, open plan spaces, whereas we offer predominantly private offices. This was deliberate because it’s incredibly difficult to find a genuinely affordable private office anywhere in London so we wanted to provide people with this option. But we also understand that contact with other people is important to many who choose to work in a coworking space, so we ensure we offer lots of appealing shared spaces so people can meet their fellow members.
And we also arrange networking and social events! I’d recommend that you find out what’s on offer as soon as you arrive and work out what feels most helpful for you and your business. And of course, if you think of something that isn’t on offer, just ask! We are always open to new ideas and want our members to shape their experience here.
Any favorite spots near your space? What are some neighborhood favorites for lunch or happy hour?
The Terrace, Pizzeria Pappagone is amazing and if you want something fun check out Oak for cheese and wine.
What’s been the most rewarding part about working with the CoalFace community?
It’s so interesting to be surrounded by such a diverse range of talented people every day. And it’s inspiring to discover what is on your doorstep. All of these great minds who have been running incredible businesses out of coffee shops or their living rooms! It’s very satisfying to see people finally have the option of somewhere professional to run their business, and then to watch them grow it under your roof.
Where do you think the future of work is headed?
I think even big businesses are gradually embracing flexible working, and I expect this trend to continue. We are seeing more companies allowing people to work from home and they are relaxing the traditional fixed hours that people are expected to be in the office. We all have such complicated lives and it is very hard to juggle a job with various other commitments, so anything that allows people to do this more comfortably makes sense, I think. It doesn’t seem to impact productivity – we can get a lot done working this way. There is increasing talk of the virtues of a four-day week too, so it will be interesting to see if that starts to become more popular.