In our ultra-connected digital world, it’s easy to overlook the value of real-life encounters. But crucial to any successful business is having trusted connections and opportunities to make new ones. For its business customers, the buzzy communal areas of Workspace’s buildings teem with potential clients and collaborators; regular events provide every chance for that elusive but sought-after commodity – word of mouth – to spread among its 4,000-plus customers.
As a gardener, Tony Woods knows a thing or two about nurturing environments. When he moved his urban garden design company, Garden Club, into Workspace’s Vox Studios in Vauxhall, the conditions were ripe for collaboration. “It’s a close-knit community, we had the opportunity to meet all our neighbours,” says Tony. “We managed to cover our rent for a few months just on word-of-mouth business from other tenants, which was fantastic.”
It’s a close-knit community, we had the opportunity to meet all our neighbours.
Tony Woods, Garden Club
As well as finding clients at Vox, Garden Club has also brought business to others. It enlisted Spoke, a creative agency based on the floor above, to produce short films documenting two recent projects: a rooftop garden at John Lewis on Oxford St and a floating “pocket park” at Paddington Basin. The new 730 sq. m. floating park on the Grand Union Canal is a striking green public space with open lawn areas and a wildlife island. It was a tricky installation, but is already proving popular with the local community.
Spoke has also found friends easy to come by since launching in 2015, when it moved into Metal Box Factory in Southwark. “We wanted to be in a building with businesses that we could pitch to with relative ease,” says Director Tom Harvey.
The company had cards designed introducing themselves to their new neighbours and left them in the cafe for people to pick up, a move that quickly led to Spoke’s first collaboration with asset-raising firm Juniper Place. Since moving to Vox for more space, Harvey has found the sociable aspects of the building, with its cafe and outdoor seating area, indispensable. “It’s even more communal than Metal Box,” he says. “It’s good to be able to say hello to people, ask questions, and get involved with them.” Interactions like these have produced an ongoing partnership with Shades of Colour, a printing company based just down the corridor.
Over at the Barley Mow business centre in Chiswick, Ten Health & Fitness must be popular with its neighbours. The company, which specialises in dynamic reformer pilates, offers massages and physiotherapy at reduced rates to Workspace customers, as well as consulting on posture and wellness in the workplace. For its newest studio in Fitzrovia, Ten faced a unique challenge, thanks to some local by-laws. “Because it’s the old rag trade area, Westminster Council insists that local businesses maintain a showroom,” explains Creative Director Justin Rogers. The company made a virtue of a necessity by joining forces with Barley Mow neighbour HPE, which produces clothing for the fast-growing athleisure sector.
The resulting studio-cum-shop launched in April, and so far everyone’s happy. For HPE, it’s the company’s first dedicated store in the UK, while for Ten, the stylish window displays are encouraging new customers into the studio.
You’ve got a friend
Collaboration isn’t just about money changing hands. “There’s a culture of people doing each other favours,” says Donna Bamford, Co-founder of Sparks, which runs filmmaking courses for children, and is based at Pill Box in Bethnal Green. For one film set in a shoe factory, they borrowed props from their Workspace neighbour, a shoe-making school called I Can Make Shoes. Sparks also put on Fright Flicks, a Halloween-themed short film festival for children. Pill Box Centre Manager, Luciana, gave them meeting rooms, empty units and corridors for a reduced rate, which they transformed into a haunted house with the help of a designer.
There’s a culture of people doing each other favours...
Donna Damford, Co-founder, Sparks
Word of mouth is fantastic for collaboration, but so is a search engine. Workspace is making it even easier for its businesses to help each other out with a new initiative.
This year will see the launch of WorkspacePerks, a platform that allows Workspace customers to pitch their services and offer discounts to other customers. For businesses, there will be offers on anything from furniture to storage, stationery, insurance, HR and cleaning, while deals for customer employees will include gym memberships, coffee and clothes, all redeemable with a discount code.
“We’ve got a huge number of really exciting businesses within our portfolio and I thought it was a shame that they didn’t know much about each other,” says Corporate Development Manager, Stefan Duda, the brains behind WorkspacePerks. “To have a free advertising platform that encourages trading with each other is a massive selling point, especially for small businesses.”
FreemarketFX demonstrates how collaboration is driving prices lower for customers. Based at The Print Rooms in Southwark, the currency exchange’s business model is powered by peer-to-peer connectivity. The platform brings together buyers and sellers of currencies, allowing them to trade directly with one another and cut out the middleman like a bank or broker. It’s “like Betfair but for foreign exchange”, according to Chief Commercial Officer, James Allum, and operates at a 0.2% commission, making it 75-90% cheaper than high street rates.
Perfect for small and medium-sized businesses that need to pay international suppliers or import goods, freemarketFX is offering a free first transfer to Workspace customers. To claim your introductory offer go to freemarketfx.com, set up an account and use the code FREEHWMAG1.
To advertise your company’s services and discounts on the WorkspacePerks platform, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about becoming Super Connected with Workspace read about The Workspace Advantage here.