Haslemere is an amazing place to live, surrounded by beautiful National Trust land with an old and picturesque town centre and a strong cultural heritage. The last year has provided many of us with an opportunity to spend much more time here and to appreciate even more the wonderful assets that the town offers. As we look forward to the revival of the familiar shops, cafes and festivals it is becoming clear that some things may have changed and that the five day per week commute to London may, for some at least, be a thing of the past.
As working arrangements change, there is growing demand for shared workspace for people who want the benefits of remote working but don’t want to turn their home into a permanent place of work. This summer a new co-working space will open its doors in the town centre, just off the High Street. Hasleworks will provide all of the facilities that people need to be able to work effectively with ergonomically designed furniture, efficient WiFi, good lighting and heating and an unlimited supply of coffee and tea. But it will offer much more than simply a place to work.
Our market research confirms how much people want to belong to a community and to make connections with others, especially after the deprivations of the last year. Offering members the chance to relax with a drink at the end of the day is a high priority, as well as a comfortable sitting area for breaks and a chat with others over coffee. We are planning a programme of events with speakers who reflect the rich variety of people from different sectors who live in the Haslemere area. We also want to give a platform to local charities to be able to share insights into the invaluable roles that they play.
Hasleworks is an initiative by a group of us who love living in the town and want to make a distinct contribution to its social and economic recovery. As founding directors, Matthew and I have lived in Haslemere for twenty years and are joined by our son Dom who has grown up here and also has first hand experience of several different co-working venues in London. Our fellow directors Kate Bradford and Paul Edwards are more recent arrivals, having spent their working careers in London at the top of their fields in market research and brand development.
We will not make a personal profit from this new enterprise and will donate any surplus to charitable causes. We are particularly keen to support local businesses and, by enabling more people to spend their working day in the town centre, hope that this will increase expenditure at the independent shops and cafes that are such a valuable feature of Haslemere. As Haslemere returns to normal we aim to stimulate increased use of local shops and businesses and to work with others to revitalise the local economy.
We have taken our inspiration from the Arts and Crafts movement which is such an important feature of Haslemere’s heritage and was at its height at the beginning of the twentieth century when the town was a hive of local industry. The community spirit that saw, along with many other things, the creation of the Haslemere Educational Museum and Haslemere Hall, remains strong to this day. We hope that, when it opens at 2-4 Petworth Road this summer, Hasleworks will take its place as a 21st century enterprise founded upon a long and well established tradition.