Work & Wellbeing

Office provider Workspace offers fertile ground for resident businesses

7 min read

24 April 2019

Features Editor, Real Business

Workspace is an office provider that's big on supporting their businesses grow through data but low on over-branding, two factors they believe, makes them stand out in a saturated market.

How does an office provider stand out in the saturated market today? To tell you, we have to go back thirty years, and to the 1980s no less where a group of savvy property investors secured the freeholds of a number of industrial buildings across London.

Workspace: An office provider with a difference

As the years went on, and London steadily became a global property mecca these sites, located in well-connected areas, rose exponentially in value. The freeholds gave the investors another ace to play, it gave them the ability to hold onto these buildings forever and turn them into whatever they pleased, this was to be – shared offices.

So, into this perfect melting pot of high-value sites, metropolitan locations, and freehold acquisitions, the innovative office brand Workspace was born. But what makes the 65 sites strong office provider stand out against all the other ‘on-trend’ office brands in the capital?

Office providers: What makes them successful?

“We have a client facing aesthetic,” says Workspace’s Head of Business Development, Andrea Kolokasiwho I meet in the Brooklyn brick-exposed style breakout area of China Works, one of Workspace’s original portfolio properties close to the river Thames and Big Ben, “we intentionally select buildings for purchase with an emphasis on the architecture.

“It’s about retaining the individuality of the buildings and their industrial qualities and design, we’re not about having an overly branded look.”

Workspace allows its resident businesses to feel individual

Unlike the fluorescent display signs on view at WeWork offices where the customer is made aware that each office building is part of one big group, Workspace feels like a carefully crafted attempt at creating individuality.

“We’re all about subtle branding,” says Kolokasi, “you may pass by a small sign outside the entrances of our buildings saying you’re entering a Workspace, but that’s about it. Our resident businesses have strong identities of their own, and some are creative, so they don’t want to feel part of a cookie-cutter model.”

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China Work’s breakout areas have a boutique feel, (including modernist kitchen spaces).

“We host growing and established SMEs in our Workspace locations,” says Kolokasi. “What do these businesses have in common? They need to attract new talent, and they need a nice environment to do that in. The staff that work for those businesses also need the same kind of flexibility. That’s exactly what we offer through our locations.”

Unbound from the building constrictions that many leaseholders face, Workspace is able to cater to the physical needs of growing businesses, this includes major renovation overhauls within their buildings, “we have the ability to literally knock through floors and create truly expansive office areas for our clients,” adds Kolokasi.

Workspace helps its clients upscale

“It gives us great satisfaction to watch the businesses in our buildings grow into successful SMEs, and that we can facilitate their continued success,” says Kolokasi.

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Workspace like to retain the original architectural features of their buildings, (an office space at China Works).

“We use data to follow our customers on their journey with us,” says Kolokasi. “For example, if we see that our hotdesking customers apply for two memberships, and then four for their startup, we then know that they’re growing and we can ask them if they’re ready to upscale to an office,” she adds.

“We’re not interested in running office sites where businesses work in isolated and self-contained units,” adds Kolokasi, “we really mean it when we say we want to facilitate an interactive community of lively businesses within our Workspaces.”

Brexit, Workspace, and the office provider market

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The exterior of Workspace’s China Work’s site in Vauxhall.

But is the Workspace team worried about the negative impact a no-deal Brexit, (or any Brexit deal at all) could have on their large portfolio of expansive and currently high-net-worth central London locations? “We have 65 sites within the M25, we’re a confident London-based business and we intend to stay that way,” says Kolokasi. “Whatever happens, London is the location of our business and what we’re about.”

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One of the few ‘branded’ signs you’ll see at Workspace sites. (Location: China Works).

How ‘sustainable’ is Workspace?

“The property industry has come under fire for being profits driven over being sustainability conscious,” says Jamison. “But, whether we’re acquiring a new site and making it an eco-building ‘from the ground up’, or revamping an older site, we’re trying to put a dent in that damaging reputation,” she adds.

– Well, as far as I’m concerned, they’ve already have made a start in improving the eco-ethical reputation of the property sector, (11 of their sites are BREEAM certified, which is a global assessment authority for rating building projects).

“This has also meant that we have attracted a number of environmental and green energy businesses to our Workspaces, adds Jamison, “they need to work somewhere where their company missions fit their wider environment, and that’s us,” she adds.

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Workspace works towards maintaining an eco-conscious approach to their building renovations.

“We are data led in all we do at Workspace,” says Jamison, “this includes tracking the energy consumption of the businesses in the building, the idea is to make them mindful of their energy output,” she adds.

That’s the essence of Workspace, a brand that’s focused on growing their locations and their resident businesses as sustainably as possible, office competitors, – and Brexit drama aside.