"Space is not just bricks and mortar, it's a powerful asset to any business. You can have some radical impacts on the way that companies work and how staff feel about the place they work in."
Wise words from Emma Morley, founder at interior design agency, Trifle, based at Pill Box in Bethnal Green; she helps growing businesses like sports agency Octagon and tech start-up Habito make the most of their space.
For a business to achieve success, it takes more than just a great idea. In our first blog post, we discovered that cash flow is the secret to sustainable business growth. In this second post, we explore the impact of your working environment and what a difference it can make to company success.
Kick-start your business by upgrading from the local coffee shop
If our working environment has a direct impact on the way that companies work and staff satisfaction, finding the right office space is especially crucial for early-stage and fast-growth businesses.
When Jimmy Williams and his business partner Greg Smyth joined forces in 2016 to take on the trillion-dollar insurance market, they plotted their bold mission in London's coffee shops. But soon the disruptive duo realised that to really bulk up and challenge insurance heavyweights, they needed to lay down roots.
They moved into Workspace's Vox Studios in Vauxhall, which heralded the start of a fast-paced, fast-growth story that has taken them on an exhilarating journey. Urban Jungle's innovative pay-as-you-go insurance model that appeals to modern Millenials has pulled in nearly $5 million of funding from investors and gained a legion of loyal fans.
Jimmy and Greg needed space to grow, but didn't have the cash to commit to a lease, so they signed up to co-working at Club Workspace in Kennington Park Business Centre. This sparked the catalyst for rapid growth.
The Urban Jungle team at Kennington Park Business Centre
Co-founder Jimmy says, "We just rocked up with our laptops – that was all. There was no sorting out rates and we got a little introductory offer so it was a cheap way for us to get going. At the start, it was just the two of us funding the business with our own money – bootstrapping everything."
This low-cost option allows entrepreneurs to develop their fledgling business idea with all the benefits of an office:
- No fixed-term lease
- Business-grade Wi-Fi
- Access to bookable meeting rooms
- Free funding advice via Informed Funding
- Networking opportunities with fellow founders
These benefits helped Urban Jungle focus on developing their business mission and expand headcount, at which point Jimmy and Greg opted for a dedicated office space at Kennington Park to establish Urban Jungle as a new player in the insurance market.
Take your business to the next level with your own office space
Once your business is on solid ground, it is worth investing in the right space to cement it as a player in your industry, impress clients and offer staff the best working environment. It can be daunting to find the right space for your business' needs, but research shows that it makes all the difference. Rob Holdway, Professor at Brunel University London and Innovation Director at Co-Innovate told Workspace that there is an inextricable link between the design of our working environment, culture, productivity, and health and wellbeing.
A cleverly designed workspace with natural light and open breakout areas give a feeling of space and offer a feeling of refreshment, while quiet booths allow people to work in peace. For founders Kit Tomlinson and Ross Newton, these attributes were paramount. When they first came up with the idea in 2014 for Mighty Fine, a purveyor of handcrafted honeycomb covered in the finest Belgian chocolate, they hand-made honeycomb bars and sold them at their shop in Camden.
But once their honeycomb treats landed in Harvey Nichols, it was time to step up production and that meant a dedicated office space. They needed somewhere fairly close to their new manufacturing site in Peckham so moved into Vox Studios in Vauxhall, the former Marmite factory, before expanding to a larger space at nearby China Works.
Kit Tomlinson and Ross Newton, Co-founders at Mighty Fine, at China Works in Vauxhall
“Both the Workspace centres we’ve been at have had a great vibe to them. At China Works we are able to walk out of our office with a laptop, go and have a meeting in the breakout spaces and keep our business running. It has given us the illusion of having much more space than we actually rent, which is great for a small and growing business.
"The centre managers are really open with communication and make everyone feel welcome, and that’s the core of how you make an atmosphere work – people feel inspired to network.”
Today, Mighty Fine's range of products is sold in major supermarkets around the UK.
Whatever stage of your company's growth cycle, the right space can make all the difference to its immediate and long-term success. Urban Jungle and Mighty Fine are just two of the 3,000 plus businesses that Workspace has helped to flourish. With over 60 business centres across London, from trendy Portobello Road and Whitechapel to leafy Dulwich and Highbury, find the right centre for your business to reach its potential at workspace.co.uk.
Check out our newest offerings, Brickfields and The Frames in Shoreditch, where we offer a range of spaces from co-working areas to studios to light-filled offices with views of London.
Work Well. Read more about the business benefits of a great work space on pages 32 - 39 in the 7th issue of Workspace's homeWORK magazine.