Space to share

Mark your calendars - Like you, FortyTwo have been working from home for 22 weeks and counting. So what now?

It’s clear that we will all have to adapt to sharing our workspace in new ways. So, naturally we do the physical work - planning spaces, cleaning procedures and materials, new processes and protection for the team and visitors alike - and work towards that much-anticipated move back into a shared studio space when restrictions allow.

But hang on, hasn’t everything changed? We’re all digitally connected and working efficiently from our home offices, spare bedrooms, kitchen tables and sofas, right? What do we need the space for in this enlightened, remote-working world?

I think many of us will agree that working remotely so completely all these months has actually been a better and more seamless experience than we anticipated. Somehow, the tech worked and we all managed to find the kind of collaboration, routine and productivity that we really had no right to hope for - considering what we are going through as a society.

However, it’s also safe to say the FortyTwo team have come to appreciate their shared studio more, and not merely for reasons of comfort and habit. The past few months of working in this new way have calcified our belief that there are occasions (and plenty of them) where a shared work space is absolutely necessary for a creative team.

We’ve learned that the easy spontaneity of a busy and sociable studio office is a luxury that we won’t soon overlook in future. Those ‘off the cuff’ catch-ups and project chats that lead to eureka moments, new ideas and vital information reaching the right person – they’re a huge aspect of what we do as a business and as a creative collective, and while we can replicate them digitally, the spontaneity is what often sparks the true inspiration.

In a similar vein, presenting work to clients face-to-face is a world of difference from video call meetings. While we’ve had some brilliant client meetings and lots of positive feedback via webcam, there’s a noticeable difference between the immediate reaction of someone in the room and someone on a screen. Let’s face it, most people are a wee bit awkward on a video call – we feel a little bit less guarded, it’s harder to read the social cues about when to talk and the quick interaction of sitting around a table with a cuppa is not quite there.

Humans need human contact – and for the full experience, clients and collaborators need to experience FortyTwo in our natural habitat (we’re like dolphins, but with post-it notes and fancy notebooks) when the time is right.

So, it’s safe to say that we greatly look forward to 126 Crown Street returning to our working lives – as a part-time partner, at least – and until new developments come to fruition.

Space to nurture

Speaking of which – what of our creative hub?

You may have heard about some upcoming plans for a new shared space for creatives. Indeed, we had planned and invested in a new shared space, where we would establish a new home for FortyTwo Studio while also providing vital space and resources for established practitioners, start-ups, graduates and students across the entire creative industries.

A space where collaboration, support and nurturing existing talent was central to our vision – open, encouraging and enthusiastic about Aberdeen as a creative force.

After much initial planning, we had been looking forward to continuing conversations with the region's educators, creative organisations and the broader creative community about how everyone can get involved. The belief and enthusiasm for the project from all parties was truly exciting and inspiring and real progress was being made as we began the refurbishment...

Then COVID-19 arrived, and the ‘pause’ button was reluctantly pushed.

So – to echo my earlier question – what now? How do we adapt to this new flexible working world where physical space has less currency than before? What has changed here?

For us, and our plans at 35, the answer is nothing has changed but the timeline. Our plans remain true and are more relevant than ever.

After all, has there ever been a more important time for the broader creative industries to dig in and support young students, start-ups and like-minded businesses?

This is not about stacking desks or to hive-off office space to flood the market, it’s about creating a safe, flexible and open environment for creative businesses, practitioners and up-and-comers of all kinds to learn and work together when needed. It’s for events and exhibitions celebrating the region's creativity and for young creative students to find face to face kinship we all need in our lives from time to time - both for work and quite simply as people and peers. It’s for offering a space for those ‘happy accidents’ and chance meetings to lead to collaboration, renewal and growth.

The creative industries contribute over £5bn per year to Scotland's economy and we know we are well placed to help businesses and support sectors get through many of their challenges and continue to grow. As a region, we will need all of our collective strength and capability to do so.

FortyTwo makes this commitment to play a small part in nurturing our own future so we are better placed to support others with theirs – and this new creative hub will champion this.

Space to include

Amid the excitement of establishing something new and the energy and optimism of a place that will help grow talent and encourage creative people to see the opportunities right here in the North-east of Scotland – we also have the realisation that these ideas can only succeed when others join us and lend their expertise, time and support.

Simply put – we're gonna need all the help we can get, and we'd love you to be involved.

If you are in the creative industries – starting out, already established or quite simply feel this is something you could really get into – let us know, and we’ll happily discuss our plans and these emerging opportunities to create something lasting in the region together.