In its early days, coworking was the physical manifestation of a new world view – akin to a philosophy – driven by alternative movements. Open and shared working spaces gave concrete expression to a vision of work based on the strength of community, open innovation and co-creation.
Then, it became a business. A business model adopted by global brands, some of which are growing very (too?) quickly, along with its principles of industrialising and standardising spaces. Government bodies and businesses started creating their own “coworking spaces”. A flex office space with a designer look and a foosball table… Plug and work temporary offices to accommodate visitors, start-ups and more.
Today, the concept has become an umbrella term denoting anything that breaks with conventional office space. It lends an “innovative” gloss to spaces that are anything but. It transforms coworking into a form of cowashing, aimed at convincing millennials that their employers understand the revolutions under way.
That is why we will never speak of coworking again, at least not to describe our business. What term will we use instead?
Something that accurately reflects Kwerk’s original, off-beat spirit; something that attests to our singularity and our pioneering ambition. And that formally expresses our expertise.
That expertise now bears a name: WELLWORKING™.
Wellworking™ is the answer to Kwerk’s self-appointed mission: enabling individuals and businesses alike to flourish and to achieve their dreams. It relies on a simple conviction: mental and physical well-being are the key determinants of performance at the workplace. While this claim may seem obvious, it is backed by complex technical and economic studies.
A century of behavioural studies has proven the impact of working environment on performance… But there is no specific model. Space, plants, colours, materials, sounds and smells, the social and urban environment, and more: the impact of these factors has been determined separately, but never as a whole. And for good reason. There is no living laboratory that can merge all of these factors and assess their combined effect. Businesses are still unsure how to quantify, qualify and order resources to guarantee a compelling ROI. As such, they forgo the idea of establishing a holistic and thorough approach.
That is why we created Kwerk. We tried it, we developed it, we perfected it. And it gave rise to Wellworking™.
Here are the basic principles:
> Design that awakens the senses. Designed by Albert Angel, our venues speak to the five senses through the careful consideration of materials, smells, the air, plants and sounds; the feeling of well-being is created first and foremost through an interplay of sensory harmonies. None of our venues is like any other, as the space inspires a distinctive design. Every time, we unconsciously experience a paradoxical impression of surprise and familiarity.
> A team of hospitality and wellness professionals, all in-house and trained. We believe the office still provides a human experience that no digital platform can replace. We decided to insource all skills, based on the premise that we perform a hospitality service, not a real estate one: as such, we must apply a special degree of discipline and cultivate very specific skills. It is an economic choice reflected in a level of service unlike any other.
> Therapeutic work stations. Sedentary work is a very recent invention in the history of mankind. And it is producing disastrous effects on both body and mind. That is why we have invented our own furniture and office spaces. They promote a healthy posture and encourage, as per your preference, mobility or relaxation: adjustable desks, therapeutic seats, sliding cabinets in partitions, gravity chairs, etc.
> Taking care of the body, our greatest ally. It is time to reconcile body and mind, as prompted by ancient and eastern wisdom. We have created a one-of-a-kind, continuous mental and physical training programme, Kwerkwell, to which our members have unlimited access. In each of our centres, it offers a variety of cardio, yoga and meditation sessions included in the working day. We have tried them ourselves and can confirm that these sessions improve concentration, motivation, physical and mental endurance, stress management and, as a result, performance at the workplace!
> The human ecosystem. Well-being is directly linked to the frequency (and quality) of social relationships. As such, we design events – whether fun or serious – to let our members share intense moments that foster bonding and connection: conferences, morning pitches, inspirational talks and quirky afterwork events. They provide a soulful boost, reminding our members every day of the origin of the word Kwerk, a phonetic transcription of the word Quirk, to express the idea of playful eccentricity .
In conclusion, at a time when France has been crowned World Champion, I would like to include a more personal message. Just like my partner and co-founder, Albert Angel, I have dual citizenship; I have lived and worked in several countries. And yet, France is the place where we both decided to establish Kwerk. The pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit is rooted in our national culture, and our country is especially sensitive to professions related to the art of living, service provision and well-being. We are convinced that France, renowned globally for its way of life, can also become renowned for its way of working.