It is only a year since Workplace opened its doors for the first time.
What a year it has been.
And it seems as good a time as any to look back at the story of Workplace, and remember where and why it all began.
The business was developed over a glass or two of wine in the Malmaison Manchester by Adrian Stevenson, Louise Pollard and Jane Schofield. They had all previously worked together on a number of hotel projects and were at a point in their careers where they wanted to do something new, something that was totally theirs, that meant working for themselves.
It was in the course of looking for office space for their own project that they became surprised at how little high end small office stock there was in Manchester. Finding something that had the same feel and service they had experienced on the business floors of the hotels they had developed was a lot harder than they expected.
Deciding to go ahead with the plan for Workplace was, in some ways, the easy bit. Meetings with three companies they had worked with before, and trusted, in Manchester: SpaceInvader Designs, Dragonfly Contracts and digital marketing agency, Cube3 gave them the belief and kickstart they needed. All three businesses had been part of previous projects and the team respected their judgement. And all three businesses gave them the thumbs up. With that response, and the knowledge that these companies would work with them to get Workplace from an idea to a profitable business, their work began.
Adrian, Louise and Jane self-funded Workplace, as they believed the best way to make sure they had the opportunity to develop the product was to try and build it debt-free, with the responsibility on nobody but themselves to make Workplace profitable.
A year in and they have proved that the concept is something Manchester is eager for, and that tapping in to a shared economy with the service of a hotel in an office space is something that works commercially too.
So, what are the thoughts of the founders after one year?
"Hard, hard work and a huge amount of responsibility" are the first words that spring to Jane's mind.
She says it is important to never underestimate the amount of work that goes in to launching a new brand and a new concept. For a start-up, when money is tight and there is just three people to do every job, it can be gruelling.
"In the first months we were doing everything from sales and marketing, accounting and making the coffee right down to cleaning the toilets. It was the only way we could ensure we kept our costs down, which meant it was such a relief when we found ourselves in a position to employ people to help us with some of the important operational work. This finally gave us space to focus on growing our membership. Having said all of this, the three of us have had such a great time. Three sets of very different skills and personalities pulling together and getting the job done have made Workplace what it is. And I think having the three of us work together has been the most significant contributor to our success, as one of us could always solve any issue that came up. It has been this relationship, and the relationships we have built with the people we have met, that has been the best thing about Workplace. It has been our team and our great members who have given the business its heart".
"Where has the year gone? When I reflect on our achievements I still puzzle about how we got where we are today.
Beginning a business with my longstanding friends was an exciting concept I truly believed in from the start. Having years' experience in the service industry I felt primed to invest myself into a new venture, one which would be exciting, thought-provoking and stimulating. I have always enjoyed making spontaneous business decisions, especially when faced with challenges that require an immediate response and achieved one of my closest ambitions in business; working alongside individuals who I like and respect. Customers have become friends and business partners are best-friends, perfect!
My goal for the year ahead is about embracing our success and turning that into continued business growth; developing our employees and welcoming new members to be a part of our exciting journey."€¯€¯€¯
"With any new business, I guess you are always nervous that you are doing the right thing. With Workplace, as we were developing an entirely new concept, there was a further degree of trepidation: would everyone else would 'get it'? For me, the launch party was the confirmation we needed that we 'could be on to something here' but the sense of pride at what we'd built was soon replaced with the realisation that now the real work begins. We had to fill the place!
This year has had some very big highs and very big lows. It's been hard work and there have definitely been tears as well as laughs. We're ahead of where we expected to be, but a long way off where we want it to be. But at least we are heading in the right direction.
For me, I can't explain the sense of pride I feel when I walk in and see the place buzzing and the space working as we'd hoped it would do. Coworking is organic, you must put all the elements in place and nurture it, you can't sit back and just expect it to happen.
I can't wait for the next chapter!"
Right now, the whole team is proud to label Workplace a success in its first year. But everyone recognises that is because of the people who have made it what it is: the members and the community they are forming together.
Here's to the growth and progression of the brand into the future. Who knows where that will lead€¦