One challenge that any growing business faces is working out how much space you need. In the current property climate it takes nerves of steel. I know this from personal experience as it's exactly the challenge we're dealing with at Ideal at the moment.
My how we've grown
When we set up Ideal in 2009, the initial focus for us - as it is for many new business owners - was where we'd find an income to replace the salaries we were leaving behind. Only once the business is established can you turn your attention to planning the next stages and investing in its future. We moved into our current offices at the end of 2011 and I didn’t imagine that we would need a bigger space so soon.
For us, investing in our own office space gave us autonomy and control in a scarce commercial property market. We were lucky to find a building we loved at exactly the right time. We could run our still young business from the new premises throughout the refurbishment and we transformed a fairly derelict workshop space into our modern offices.
It has been a productive home for us over the last few years: we have exceeded our growth targets year on year, and along with revenue growth, our headcount has grown to nearly 50. So, the time has come to move on and I have been scouring the city for our next home.
The property challenge
Brighton’s geography limits the land available for commercial development. There are no office blocks on reclaimed land in the sea and the success of many micro/small business tech businesses means most commercial lets in the city are not big enough to scale with Ideal.
This gives landlords the upper hand and it is now common for landlords to offer leases only for a certain 10-year term. In any sector it is hard to predict what 10 years will bring. In IT it is almost impossible. In 2006 there was no iPhone and internet penetration in 2006 was only 16%.
What will the next 10 years look like at Ideal?
The opportunities of a new space
We are lucky we operate in an economically secure sector with a reported total addressable market of £9.5tn worldwide. With a broad cross-architectural practice we can provide expert consultancy to our customers helping them with a wide range of business problems. We are not complacent but are confident that our zero debt, organic growth will continue well into the next decade.
So, our next move will be to a much bigger space. Big enough for the next 10 years. Our move brings the opportunity to try a different way of working. Mobile working within the office space will be encouraged, so we will start with hot desk zones, shared working rooms and silent spaces.
What technology will we need to enable this? At Ideal this is our area of expertise and I have written before about the rule: ‘if it moves connect to a wireless network and if not, then wired.’ We’ve been working with our clients to create flexible workspaces which enable efficient, productive and creative working. Now it’s our turn and I will be using Project Workplace’s best practice design guides to support mapping our requirements, creating zones and designing technology solutions to fit the way we work. Some zones will have fixed voice and video endpoints, others wireless headsets, some no technology at all. Flexibility will be king, recognising that what people need to enable them to work productively changes from day to day and even during a working day.
I’m not sure yet how technology will support other activities we do at work like socialising and eating- but for now I’m happy that with more space we won’t need to drag the board room table for lunchtime yoga classes!
Do get in touch if you hear of anywhere. And if your business is considering mobility, our customer briefing on workplace mobility might be helpful as a simple summary to brief people inside your business.
What are your business challenges? Get in touch with our team of experts to find out how we can help you to meet them. Call us on 01273 957500, or get in touch online.
Header image: US Department of Agriculture / Flickr, via a CC Licence