Ingka Centres on building an automated co-working space

Ingka Centres, part of the Ingka Group, which also includes IKEA Retail and Ingka Investments, creates meeting places for people to connect, relax, eat, shop, and play, tailored to the needs of local communities. Last year, Ingka Centres launched Hej!Workshop, a new, 700-square-metre, flexible alternative to the workplace or home office, located in one of the Metropolitan Stockholm districts.

We spoke with Viacheslav Stepakhin, project leader at Ingka Centres, about the changing landscape of co-working spaces, fostering creativity and innovation among customers, and creating a holistic online payments experience with Stripe.

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What inspired the creation of Hej!Workshop?

At Ingka Centres, we realised the positive impact that affordable workspaces could provide, especially for meeting spaces. We also recognised a need to be close to local communities to help cut down commute times. Coming out of the pandemic, our work environment has shifted from office buildings to essentially being anywhere. We at Ingka Centres then piloted a new coworking concept, Hej!Workshop, in collaboration with IKEA for Business.

What is your team focused on these days?

We're learning how to operate the business, as we’re still in the pilot phase. We're fortunate to have brilliant supporters from other organisations helping us shape Hej!Workshop. Our primary focus is to explore the value we can bring to our customers and Ingka Centres, confirm our assumptions, and gain as much knowledge with the pilot as possible.

How is Hej!Workshop supporting people in a hybrid or remote work environment?

Prior to the pandemic, co-working spaces were used by digital natives and freelancers, primarily in the creative and technology sectors. Now, we’re seeing individuals of all ages, careers, and cultures embracing a hybrid and remote environment. It confirms our hypothesis that workspaces need to be hyperlocal in the neighbourhoods where people live, rather than where offices are located.

We’ve created such an attractive atmosphere that even my colleagues from other departments are finding excuses to use the space. Because we are next to the largest IKEA store in Sweden, many of our co-workers come to Hej!Workshop for meetings, using the space as an extra venue to book rooms.

How can co-working spaces spark innovation and creativity in employees?

We see collaboration that would not normally happen in a traditional office setting. For example, a designer might bump into an accountant who can provide timely tax advice, or someone in marketing might share a creative idea with a start-up founder. It’s also been a space for networking: people from different companies meet peers from other disciplines to spark innovation, creativity, and new business opportunities and solutions.

We’re proud of the space becoming a place which fosters innovation, supports new ideas, and encourages startups in the community.

Where do you see growth opportunities for Hej!Workshop?

The beauty of Hej!Workshop is that our concept is not limited to one location. It consists of three main building blocks: offices, desks, and meeting rooms. We can tweak this format to fit any market. With the rise of remote and hybrid work, the demand for co-working is increasing, and our flexibility allows us to continue to grow.

How does Hej!Workshop meet the changing needs of users when it comes to payments systems?

We chose to go with a high level of automation for our co-working business, which is a route yet to be explored in the flexible workspace market. We do not have a cash desk, and we do not sell anything on-site. Rather, everything from memberships to meeting rooms is purchased online through our digital platform. We use a smart access system, allowing customers to access facilities using their phone. It’s a lot of innovation per square meter.

We’re thrilled to have Stripe as our partner. Everything has worked flawlessly. While today we have a customer success leader on-site, Stripe is helping us get closer to our goal of being fully self-service.

How has Stripe helped support the goals of Hej!Workshop?

Stripe is a great partner to achieve a seamless customer journey. Because of the native integration with Stripe, our customers receive a holistic online payments experience in one window, while also supporting recurring payments for those who have a membership.

At Hej!Workshop, it is important that we allow customers to sign up and use a workspace on the same day, which is different from many of our competitors who require booking 24 hours in advance. Stripe has enabled us to achieve this edge by processing payments quickly.

How does Stripe enable Hej!Workshop to successfully conduct business?

After passing our internal security checks, Stripe removed the pain points of managing finance and payments systems, at a very affordable rate. It’s been the smoothest experience, particularly as many of our customers have subscription members. Everything has just worked with Stripe, with no issues seven months into our partnership. Knowing Stripe has our payments covered means our team can focus on scaling and expanding the business.

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