Could you work in a busy Melbourne laneway for a day? I did

I’m writing this in the SmartCompany bunker. It’s no quieter than normal, but to me, the silence is deafening.

I’ve spent the better part of today working in a lane. Tucked into an alley next to what is perhaps Melbourne’s busiest train station, it was a loud place to type my articles.

It was also the worst day possible for me to leave the office. Our little news team was two people down. I was out the door before my editor could reconsider the little experiment we’d agreed on.

I turned up to Godfrey Lane, where Hub Melbourne had set up Australia’s first outdoor, pop-up co-working space.

The idea was simple. With laptops, Wi-Fi and batteries, what need was there to stay indoors? Hub Melbourne, which runs a more conventional co-working space just next to Godfrey Lane, thought it’d be fun to try and work outside for a day.

So they threw the event. And 120 people came, including yours truly.

The narrow laneway was a hub of conversation and activity. It was beautiful, filled with balloons, tables, plants and heaters, and free refills of steaming hot tea. And bemused passers-by walking along the redbrick lane to Southern Cross Station.

I grabbed a seat at the head of a table, and was quickly joined by six others along the other seats.

A man in a suit looked sheepish as he explained to his client what they were doing in a laneway. “I don’t normally work here, of course, but I thought this’d be fun,” he said as he led his guest to one of the more secluded tables.

Two women on my table hit it off while talking about their respective businesses. They were soon joined by another. I guess when you’re working in a laneway you’ve got a pre-made ice-breaker.

Hub Australia’s CEO, Brad Krauskopf, said one of the things he most liked about the experiment was the lack of hierarchy.

“No matter which company you’re from or what you’re working on, everyone is on the same level,” he told me. “We’re all working in the gutter, and we’re all having great fun doing it.’

In the lane, Krauskopf spent a productive morning in several meetings, including, appropriately, one about how to expand Hub Australia.

Is a permanent outdoor fixture on the cards?

Story continues on page 2. Please click below.


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