Flexible working and Collaboration with Lauren Cole

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A woman with a wealth of experience; Lauren Cole launched her career in New York, where she worked for retail brands such as Nike and Levis and was introduced to the world of visual merchandising. She then moved to London to work for Estée Lauder Companies, before joining the facial fitness start-up FaceGym. Nowadays, you can find her managing projects across the UK and Ireland for one of the world’s largest community based companies: WeWork.

Recently, there has been a shift in the way people work, with an increasing focus on flexibility and community. WeWork is a company that has taken the shared office space concept to a design level that has not previously existed. Members come to work in a serene and productive environment, where there is also free coffee, free beer or prosecco. The spaces also feature mother-nursing rooms, mediation hubs and more.

“More and more companies and individuals want thoughtfully designed workspaces and a flexible work life, and WeWork is really at the forefront of this change. We know our design is working as we recently found that 80 percent of our members reported improved productivity since moving to a WeWork.”

Coming from both a corporate and start-up background, Lauren explains that she was looking for a unique experience that could combine both a fast-paced, ‘down-to-the-buzzer’ working style with a long lead business strategy, and WeWork was the perfect fit for her.

“I knew the opportunities with WeWork would be endless.”

Working as the Senior Lead of Project Delivery, she heads a team made up of architects, engineers, designers and tech specialists that support the company’s growth across the UK and Ireland. Since their UK launch in 2014, they have opened over 50 locations across the country.

WeWork has also recently opened their first locations in Cambridge and Edinburgh – both projects Lauren was very excited about! She tells us that the space in Edinburgh which opened in October, combines innovative design with some of the best views of the city – the building boasts an incredible rooftop view of the castle!

Lauren explains that her favorite aspect of working for WeWork is the energy and excitement from the teams that she works with on a global scale, and that the projects are always rewarding: “Although working on the latest designs takes a lot of hard work, time and effort, the end results are always astonishing.”

And in terms of the most challenging part: “Restraining myself from taking the gorgeous furniture home!”

Having worked for brands such as NikeEstee Lauder Companies and FaceGym, we asked Lauren for some insights into the constantly evolving world of retail. Considering the increasing focus on technology, she explains that factors such as a balance of approachable designs, clever everyday language, and ensuring that the store is functional and inspiring for customers as well as the brand teams, can make or break an in-store experience.

“A lack of authenticity and inconsistent brand behaviors can be noticed within a few moments of walking into a space.”

Highlighting the importance of telling a brand story and being consistent, she maintains that the story should be completely unique to each brand; from how you started, who you are, your values, to the material you use to build your spaces and the products on your shelves. “Always be authentic and true to your brand.”

In terms of motivation, Lauren tells us that interior spaces always provoke an emotion wherever she goes. “Whether I am dining, shopping or on a retreat, I want to feel inspired by a space – to relax, to design, to buy or to share.” That’s something I love about WeWork, too. The design we incorporate into our spaces enhances productivity and motivation, and our furniture is always comfortable, casual and homey.”

As someone with a wealth of experience, we ask Lauren to share some advice. She explains that the most important thing that she has learned during her career is to listen to others as “great ideas come from a collaboration of minds.” We couldn’t agree more.

By: Isabelle James