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Places People Prefer

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Technology

A different way of working

Paddington Central’s 2 Kingdom Street is home to innovative workspace provider Central Working. CEO James Layfield explains its ethos and his ambition to help make west London a hub for technology firms

London’s technology industry is gradually spreading westwards, and there’s a lot of buzz around Paddington as the capital’s next tech hub.

“The tech scene has traditionally been based around the Old Street and Shoreditch area, and we played a crucial role in helping this scene grow with our early East End sites,” explains James Layfield, CEO of shared workspace provider Central Working. “Technology businesses are now springing up all over the capital, but they’ve not really got a firm hold yet in west London. With this site, we wanted to take everything that we learned during Tech City’s early days and bring it to the west.”

Central Working has already attracted some big tech players to its location at 2 Kingdom Street on British Land’sPaddington Central campus. “We have two leading Tech City influencers, Techstars and London & Partners, now in residence,” says Layfield. “In particular, persuading Techstars to relocate to our new site was a massive statement – one of the biggest players in the global tech community is now based in west London.”

Something different

Shared working spaces have become a common phenomenon since they first began to appear around a decade ago, and they now increasingly cater to a mobile, contract-based workforce as well as larger firms looking for flexible space options. A recent study from My Family Care and Hydrogen found that 81% of employees who work in tech say they work
flexibly to some degree – that’s 15% higher than the national average of 66%.

Among a wide variety of shared workspace providers, Central Working offers something a bit different. “We really care about making sure you love coming to work and plugging you into a community that will help your business thrive,” says James Layfield, the company’s CEO.

Its Paddington location is certainly an exciting space. Scandinavian-style wooden work tables with integrated power ports populate the main, open-plan area. Between tables, isolated booths give privacy for calls. Glass walls seal off individual offices and attractive meeting rooms, while people in breakout areas sit and chat on comfy sofas.

“Persuading Techstars to relocate to our new site was a massive statement – one of the biggest players in the global tech community is now based in west London”

This is Layfield’s fifth business, and his past experience has helped shape Central Working. He knows what entrepreneurs want and need. “Like all our locations, we designed Paddington to have all the facilities you might need to grow your business,” he explains. “So not only do we have hot-desking spaces, permanent desk options and offices, but also meeting rooms and private booths.”

It also boasts some special features. “My personal favourite is the open-air auditorium, which hosts talks, workshops and lectures from leading business and tech personalities,” says Layfield.

Workplace trends

These features make Central Working very much part of the zeitgeist. “London is at the forefront in Europe of adapting to new workplace trends, from wellness to coworking to all things tech,” says Tim Roberts, British Land’s Head of Offices and Residential. “British Land’s lifestyle campus at Paddington Central is proving a real draw for tech firms who are looking for an environment that promotes work-life balance, and wellbeing outdoors as well as inside the office.”

Indeed, Paddington’s excellent national and international transport links make the area an obvious choice for those hoping to expand a new business. The tech industry requires global connections, so it’s the perfect spot. And as Layfield says: “With Crossrail arriving in 2018 and a new runway confirmed for Heathrow, it’s only going to get better.”

Tagged in: COWORKING, FLEXIBLE WORKING, PADDINGTON CENTRAL, TECHNOLOGY

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