Freelancers, social entrepreneurs, the self-employed and remote workers who use a city co-working space have increased their productivity, business confidence and wellbeing according to new research.

The location has also proven a boon for Sheffield’s thriving independent food scene, enabling traders to test menus and develop their businesses.

With self-employment at a record high in the UK, the sector makes a vital contribution to economic recovery and resilience.

But many freelancers are affected by loneliness and isolation, according to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

This can have a profound impact on productivity, wellbeing, mental health, and physical health, linked to a risk of depression and heart attacks.

Union St, a city centre hub for co-working, street food and public events, commissioned research into its social impact in August 2018.

The results have just been published within its “impact snapshot” which demonstrates that:

– 93% of Union St co-workers have increased productivity since working from Union St
– 68% of members have generated new opportunities
– Members’ wellbeing and work life balance has increased by 40% since joining
– 84% of co-workers say joining has been good for their business
– they are 15% more confident about their business’ future than before joining.

The report also examines the effect of running food pop-ups at Union St, with multiple food vendors saying they have developed successful businesses as a result of trading in the location.

It goes on to cover the positive impacts that Union St generates through sourcing and buying from local suppliers, providing an event space and connecting members with the media and other stakeholders.

Matt Hill, Co-Founder and Enterprise Co-ordinator at Union Street, said: “To create this snapshot we gave consultant Jamie Veitch full access and waited to see what the response would be. The feedback has been amazing, especially to see the high levels of freelancers and small businesses who’re finding Union St increases their wellbeing and increases their opportunities. Now we want to build on this.”

The report is available in full at: