Office space moves outside to attract Taranaki workers to coworking concept video

ANDY JACKSON/Stuff.co.nz

To celebrate national co-working day Manifold co-workers spend the day outside.

Rainfall and gusts of wind aren't the typical elements of an office space - unless of course your workplace is located outdoors.

As downpours and strong northerlies hit New Plymouth on Thursday, coworkers zipped up their raincoats, pulled wool hats over their ears, and opened their laptops to begin the work day under the protection of the Huatoki Plaza on Devon St West.

While a sunnier day would have been a preferable choice for Graham Nelson, co-owner of Manifold Coworking and Event Space, and his team of untethered workers, the bean bag chairs, free wifi and green turf made for a warm enough welcome for an otherwise chilly day.

Manifold co-owner Graham Nelson grabs a bean bag chair and an extra layer of clothing for a day of an office work outdoors.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Manifold co-owner Graham Nelson grabs a bean bag chair and an extra layer of clothing for a day of an office work outdoors.

"We even have a little snuggle box, which has got some blankets and some hot water bottles to keep people warm," Nelson said. 

"Luckily we do have a modest amount of shelter here, so we'll see how we go. We know the forecast isn't great."

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Katherine Blaney, Simeon Theobald and Zara Losch joined the coworking appeal and thought a chance to work outside was ...
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Katherine Blaney, Simeon Theobald and Zara Losch joined the coworking appeal and thought a chance to work outside was worth an extra layer of clothing.

Though Nelson said Manifold has previously participated in National Coworking Day, which sees coworking spaces throughout New Zealand allow free access to curious locals in an annual appeal, the Devon St West office location "on the first level and hidden away a little bit" had provided "mixed results".

"So, we decided to take coworking to the streets and move our space out into the public to get a wider reach."

The outdoor work venue not only offered a unique experience for coworkers - self-employed or travelling workers who share a work space - but also attracted a few passerbys bundled in warm clothing.

Graham Nelson said setting up his coworking business, Manifold, outside was a new way he could take part in New ...
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Graham Nelson said setting up his coworking business, Manifold, outside was a new way he could take part in New Zealand's National Coworking Day.

"It's already working," Nelson said of the appeal.

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"We had a lady walk by and she's gone home to get her laptop and she's going to come back and join us."

He said the event helped prove people could work from anywhere.

Coworker Ricky Malcolm braved the chilly weather and grabbed a comfortable seat under the Huatoki Plaza in New Plymouth.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Coworker Ricky Malcolm braved the chilly weather and grabbed a comfortable seat under the Huatoki Plaza in New Plymouth.

"If you boil it down to basics, it's a desk and a chair, somewhere for somebody to work."

But coworking is "much more than that", Nelson continued, and it's unique in that it offers a community-like office space for a variety of industries including tech-coding developers, designers, freelancers, architects, and artists.

"Everybody is doing their own thing. We've got a real mix of people."

Tony Pope, a mortgage broker who typically worked from home, was attracted by the lounge-like atmosphere and the other independent workers typing away at a six-seat hot-desk.

"Sometimes working from home can get lonely," he said. 

"Part of my job is talking to people and when you're working from home, you can sort of forget how to interact with people."

And an opportunity to work outdoors was an option many might desire, Nelson said.

"The novelty of it, I think people are quite energised and excited about it," he said.

"One of the coworkers has already suggested we try it once a month."

But whether or not the shared work space would venture to the great outdoors again, Nelson said: "Maybe on a sunny summer's day."

 - Stuff

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