Are we out of of the office in Stockholm for good? That’s what we asked our AMF Fastigheter CEO Mats Hederos and Epicenter CEO and Co-Founder and Patrick Mesterton. Their insight – as always – is definitely worth reading.
Few realise the relationship between space and success better than Mats Hederos and Patrick Mesterton.
Mats, as CEO of AMF Fastigheter, has been working with commercial property for more than 35 years.
And Patrick, CEO of Epicenter, an entrepreneur with first-hand experience of starting, scaling and selling thriving businesses.
When they first joined forces five years ago, the result was Epicenter. The world’s first House of Digital Innovation was created to disrupt the relatively fresh co-working space model. And it rapidly became the destination for businesses transforming at speed.
Why? Epicenter connects the right know-how, the right know-who and the right location. And the mindset is even more agile. Anything and everything can and will adapt to serve client needs. “We simply ask our clients how they are transforming their businesses. Then see what we can offer to be useful and add value,” Mats explains.
Space is never simply space at Epicenter. Whether you’re in Stockholm, Helsinki or Oslo, workspace is seen as a powerful strategic asset.
It was conversations with business leaders back in 2015 that sparked this lightbulb moment. “The first businesses we started talking to,” Mats remembers, “were the big corporates. The Microsoft’s, the Volvos, the SEBs – they didn’t need yet more space. They wanted solutions to their strategic problems. How were they going to unify their culture? How were they going to accelerate their innovation process and how were they going to attract and retain the right talent?”
Patrick continues. “Businesses asked us ‘How can we turn our main property into something more than a traditional production unit? How can it become something much bigger in terms of what we’re trying to achieve?’”
These burning questions got our Epicenter co-founders fired up with ideas.
“What if we built a cluster of likeminded entrepreneurs, where people can make more connections – but also where they can learn and collaborate?“
This focus on adding value transforms the office from just a place to be into a powerful strategic asset. Or, as Patrick calls it, opportunity space.
“Epicenter stopped thinking about office space years ago. We deal in opportunity space,” he explains.
“We offer the opportunity to be exactly where your clients and customers are. The opportunity to cultivate a purpose-driven company culture. The opportunity to attract the best talent. And the opportunity to innovate and collaborate with likeminded people in a networked community. Essentially, to grow your business.”
And in today’s extraordinary times, can any business have too many opportunities for growth?
The debate around the future of work is nothing new. But it has been intensified by COVID-19 conditions. “People are realising it is actually possible to work from home and to work in a more flexible, hybrid way. That wasn’t really known before. Now it’s been tested,” Patrick reflects.
And despite the tech working (most of the time), the communication not failing (most of the time) and productivity often a par with pre-March 2020 levels, many employees are desperate to get back to the office in Stockholm. At least for some of the time.
After months of remote work, our human need to belong, contribute and collaborate is pulling us back to a collective environment with a force that’s hard to resist.
We long for a dedicated space where real interactions, peer-to-peer learning as well as spontaneous opportunities for innovation create and sustain a shared sense of purpose.
And at Epicenter, that exclusive space isn’t isolated space in an anonymous building where you never even know your neighbours.
Our studios and private offices in Stockholm are right in the heart of our curated network of members. An invite-only community, rich with inspiring events, match-making and knowledge-sharing. One packed with cutting edge facilities and far greater square meterage than you pay for. An Epicenter workspace means privacy when you need it and community when you crave it.
That best-of-both-worlds space is also extremely flexible. Look at any of our venues and you’ll notice an abundance of rapidly scaling companies. That’s for a very good reason.
“These businesses will undergo big changes. And fast. Five and ten-year leases aren’t a good match for them”, says Mats. “We preserve the values of the traditional office but tweak the terms and conditions so it fits this type of company better.”
Today, restructuring, consolidation and strategic pivots are happening at pace. A space solution that’s both flexible and completely managed isn’t just useful. It’s vital.
Let’s return to question discussed at many a socially-distanced dinner party.
Will we even need an office in Stockholm the future? Mats is certain he has the answer.
“It’s simple,” he smiles, “No-one knows with any certainty how it is going to be and we’re not the ones that decide. The customer does.”
For most leaders, being unable to read the future is frustrating. But Mats and Patrick know it’s a powerful advantage.
“When you think you know something, it’s incredibly easy to lock yourself into one offering or solution,” Patrick says. “That’s not future-minded. That’s just dangerous.”
It’s this fierce rejection of fixed ideas that keeps us refreshingly relevant. Over the past five years, Epicenter has grown and adapted hand-in-hand with our members’ ever-changing needs.
And today the challenges of COVID-19 are just accelerated change. Change that our incredible community will navigate – and learn from – together.