Posted by Will Lewis

Posted 28 May, 2013 OBI BLOG

Keoghs_branding_1Last Thursday, once again, Manchester hosted the annual North West Insider Business of Property Conference. The event was attended by 200 property professionals from across the country. The conference focussed on Connectivity, Developers, Innovative Use of Workspace, Logistics / Industrial Development and an interview with our very own Will Lewis, Director of OBI Property.

This blog will focus on the Innovative use of Workspace discussion. Chris Davis, CEO of MoneyPlus Group sat on the panel and told of his experience as an occupier. MoneyPlus Group is one of the largest providers of debt advice in the UK. The company is backed by Palatine Private Equity and represents the financial interests of 33,000 customers. The company was based in Altrincham and when their lease was due to expire they appointed OBI to advise them on their property needs with an aim to take their business to the next level. After looking at their current working model where departments were located on different floors due to the layout of the building, it was important for MoneyPlus to find a large floor plate which could allow for integration between the whole business. Following an extensive search of South Manchester and the city centre they decided upon the Bruntwood development Riverside which provided suitable workspace and space for expansion.

Chris spoke of the move and the importance that Bruntwood played in understanding their current business model and their plans for the future. MoneyPlus worked closely with the OBI workplace consultancy department to create a dynamic workspace and OBI also project managed the fit out works. Since the move in 2012 the office space has coped with an influx of 140 additional staff. This has been partly enabled by bench desking which, as kindly highlighted by the host Chris Maguire, is not a combination of working and exercise! Chris Davis spoke of how building a canteen within the office space has impacted positively on the business. A free breakfast on Monday morning has seen a reduction in staff absences. The move has also seen a reduction in staff attrition rate. Overall the move boosted MoneyPlus’s position significantly and by creating attractive workspace and using it efficiently it has increased the productivity of the company.

The second speaker was Peter Knight MD of Overbury. Overbury specialises in office fit outs across the UK. He spoke of the need to understand what clients want and how they work to achieve the most from their office space. When asked are companies cutting back on breakout areas to minimise property costs? Peter reported that now, more than ever, companies want breakout areas to encourage collaborate working to improve productivity. The need for Technical Service Managers is increasing due to the importance of accommodating evolving technology. Finally Peter reported that companies are opting to refurbish their current space rather than move to new premises to save on cost associated with moving.

Alan Bainbridge, Portfolio Director at the BBC and Theresa Grant, Chief Executive at Trafford Council spoke of their new work places Media City and Trafford Town Hall respectively. Both told of the need of their companies to change working behaviour to allow for efficient use of space. They both reported that they had been able to take on more staff without the need of taking more space. Theresa also spoke of new green additions such as solar panels and recycling rain water and that such additions were becoming increasingly important.

The discussion was interesting and highlighted the fact that offices can be more than just a workspace. It is important not to look at office space and a business independently, at OBI we focus on integrating the two, and with the right design a dynamic workspace which maximises creativity and productivity can be created.