neardesk-thanh-Quan-NichollsImagine if instead of having to do a long commute to work you could just rent a desk – on a minute-by-minute basis – close to where you live. Well, that’s what NearDesk are offering – letting you rent desk space by the hour at dozens of locations across the UK – and they want to offer a much bigger service in Bristol and the rest of the South West…

With most office locations coming in between £2.50 to £10 an hour, using the NearDesk service could even just be a nice way to meet up with people if you are finding home working a little isolated and lonely. However, to offer the service properly NearDesk needs more offices and people to sign up.

We caught up with Thanh Quan-Nicholls, NearDesk’s Regional Director for Bristol, to find out more.

TechSPARK: What is NearDesk and how does the NearDesk technology work?

Thanh Quan-Nicholls: We’re on a mission to reduce the most unhappy part of our lives (commuting!) by getting a million people working near home one day per week. In Bristol it has been projected that traffic congestion could cost the local economy £600m by 2016. It is a real and urgent issue.

“There is a growing demand by people wanting to reduce the time they spend commuting and improve work life balance”


NearDesk is the technology platform that brings a practical solution to this. You’re familiar with travel cards and readers where users can touch in and out to pay for their ride?

NearDesk has the same thing, except it is for an office space rather than a seat on a train or bus. You can touch in at any of our six partner business centre locations around Bristol or 150+ nationwide. As we say: commute less, live more!

Bristol Commuting - our calculations (1)

NearDesk’s commuting calculations: They make a good case for the need for flexible working

A bespoke billing system means users only get charged for the time they spend working in a location. The locations themselves don’t have the hassle of invoicing individual users as it’s all managed centrally through NearDesk. Everybody benefits.

TS: You’ve been very successful at getting funding for NearDesk– what do you put that down to?

TQN: That’s right – we recently broke the £1m barrier on a leading Crowd Equity platform, Seedrs. We’re extremely pleased about the 500 investors we have behind us and put this success was down to the fact that there is a growing demand by people wanting to reduce the time they spend commuting and improve work life balance.

Our investors clearly share our vision and enthusiasm in providing a simple yet innovative solution to meet this demand.

TS: You are running a test bed in Bristol, how will it work?

TQN: We’re really excited to be in Bristol contributing to the wider discussions around the real and urgent issues facing the City. Congestion is the obvious top issue, but there is also an opportunity to help address many other issues including carbon reduction, inclusivity and support of community development.


Avoid the commute: Bristol workers spend 41.4 million hours travelling to work each year

By working with local employers and organisations we hope to grow our base of users in and around Bristol and recruit even more business centres to cater for the demand.

TS: Why Bristol and the South West?

TQN: We are on a mission to get people working closer to home right across the UK. But we think that Bristol has a progressive culture, likes trying new things, is Green Capital 2015 yet has a clear congestion problem. So we’re here to help Bristol continue to be ahead of the curve.

TS: How can people get involved?

TQN: Follow the debate and pitch in. Contribute to the #rethinkwhereyouwork exchange – and of course, you could sign up to get a NearDesk card or contact us to find out how NearDesk can work for your business and employees. And of course if your business is innovating in terms of agile working we’d love to hear from you.

You can see more at NearDesk’s Bristol and Bath pages where you can sign up to show your interest. You can also follow NearDesk on Twitter: @neardesk

Jamie Middleton