Q. Hello, can you give us a little introduction to who you are and what you do at Distil Coworking?
My name is Sam Cunningham, and I’m a freelance consultant in international development and a teacher. Alongside my consulting work, I project managed the design and build of Distil Co-working and now coordinate the running of the space.
Q. For anyone who hasn’t heard of Distil Coworking, can you provide an overview of the space?
Distil Coworking is a new workspace and one of the best positioned in Bristol. Overlooking the glass arcade of St Nicholas market, a covered market filled with street food stalls, Distil is a calm, light and stylish space designed for the distillation of ideas and new initiatives. With only 14 desks in the main coworking area, Distil is a space that you can make your own.
We’re lucky enough to share the building with an award-winning cocktail bar, and they have designed a custom drinks menu for Distil Co-working. Members have a bar drinks allowance included in their tariff and can place drinks orders using the Coherent software. Other facilities include printing, meeting room, unlimited teas and coffees, lockers, business address and an open fire in the bar area in the winter months.
Q. Why did you decide to open up a coworking space?
I used to hot desk at the Impact Hub in Islington, North London when it first opened. Ever since then I’ve been looking at the (previously derelict) first floor of my friend’s 18th Century pub and imagining cycling into St Nicholas Market to hot desk there. Both the building and the surrounding architecture are beautiful; internally, you’ll find wooden floors, wood panelling and the original sash windows. Externally, the iron framework and glass roof of the covered market filter the sun to create a soft blue tint to the light coming through our windows.
Q. What makes Distil Coworking unique?
At Distil Co-working, you won’t feel like you’re in a warehouse, be surrounded by design gimmicks or feel crammed between others. We’ve really thought through every aspect of the space, making it a tasteful, spacious and calm place to work. Visitors have described it as the most stylish coworking space in Bristol! The smell of all the street food being prepared first thing in the morning is pretty special too…
Q. When was Distil Coworking launched?
We launched in August, a few months after the end of the first COVID-19 lockdown. We found it a bit nerve-wracking because after all our hard work to get the space ready, we weren’t sure how demand would be affected. At the same time, we were pretty confident that the desire for people to get out of the house, even for one or two days a week, would drive many of those working from home to look for a safe place to cowork. Since opening, we’ve been pleased to see that there is still a strong demand for coworking in Bristol.
We’ve, of course, put in place safety measures, from operating at only 50% capacity to facilitate social distancing to supplying hand sanitiser on every desk and at the entrance to the space. In addition, the bar that we share an entrance with is now only open in the evenings with a deep clean at the end of every shift. This means better social distancing as well as the availability of the bar area with an open fire for coworking in the daytime.
Q. How have you found using Coherent at Distil Coworking?
Coherent has been really straightforward to use, and our members find it clear and intuitive. As a small space, we really appreciate the percentage fee billing model because it makes the software solution affordable at every stage of our growth, including when we’re having to operate at reduced capacity. A pricing structure that grows with us is a much more supportive model that will undoubtedly also help other smaller coworking spaces get established. Integrated branding is also really useful, supporting the continuity of our members’ journey.
Q. Has Coherent helped you in any unexpected ways?
We’re especially pleased that we’ve managed to find a way to integrate member drinks menu ordering into the Coherent software. We achieved this by creating a ‘Member Drinks’ resource, making 1 hour equivalent to 1 drink and recording order specifics in the notes section of the booking.
Q. What do you enjoy most about Coherent?
The clarity of the interface and the pricing structure. Also, we found Coherent after we discovered that the other software we were considering didn’t have a capacity limit built-in, meaning resources could be overbooked. As a small space with a limited budget for staff and limited overflow space, this wasn’t acceptable.
Q. What are you looking forward to the most in the future for Distil Coworking?
We are looking forward to seeing the community grow, including when we can return to full capacity. Once we have an established community, we look forward to organising member events.
Q. If you could share one piece of advice for anyone looking to open their own coworking space, what would it be?
Make sure you have got a clear offering within the range of coworking spaces available. Consider focussing on a specific sector not yet catered for or under-catered for. A multi-story corporate-led coworking solution (the direction of travel before the events of 2020) won’t be right for many. We believe well thought through smaller spaces will always be in demand, and perhaps even more so since the recent changes in office and home working culture.
All images in this post are credited to Colin Nichols.
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Until next time, have a great week.