The idea for Office Space in Town came well before 2009 – the date that my sister, Niki, and I formally established the business.
Our father was a travelling scientist and returned from a trip to New York with tales of a new model of office space sweeping the US. It inspired my mother to set up the UK’s first serviced office in 1979 and, in turn, inspired my sister and I to launch the model on a larger scale with Office Space in Town some thirty years later.
It was, and remains, very much a family business and one that has taken a huge amount of time and dedication to transform from a single office in Northampton in 1979, but today, I am the proud CEO of a successful and growing company – one of the leading property groups in the UK.
When we established Office Space in Town, Niki and I saw the need for a new generation of workplace – for many businesses the long leases offered by conventional office providers were simply not practical, particularly for small businesses that needed the flexibility to adapt or even large corporates who needed temporary space.
This generation of workers also spends more time at the office than any other. A 50+ hour work week is the new norm and that calls for a new kind of workplace. Each of our offices has been meticulously designed according to themes from Alice in Wonderland and the Great Gatsby to Monopoly, with facilities ranging from rooftop bars, beauty treatment rooms and even serviced bedrooms – offices that will be a home away from home for our tenants.
Our aim is to offer businesses something beyond the standard office environment – workplaces that are flexible, located in prime business hubs and offer HQ-level facilities – usually out of reach for small businesses. The popularity and extraordinary growth of our sector is testament to why such a model was necessary and our recent research suggests that our sector will keep growing, indeed independent research predicts it could be worth up to £126bn by 2025.
You will quickly find, over the course of these diary entries, that I’m an advocate of taking chances and not shying away from being the first to try something new. I’m also a firm believer in a life outside of work – my motto, one that you will find on the walls of several of our office buildings, is “work like a captain, party like a pirate” – a balance that many business owners struggle to achieve, but one that I believe is critical for the success of any business.
Through these entries, I hope to share some insight into my experience of the ups and downs of getting a business off the ground – something that can be a long and challenging process, as well as continuing to grow that business. I hope that readers will learn from our work, take on board our challenges and benefit from the insight into our strategy for success.
This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.
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