Alex Hill from Hello Work tells us more about their vision to revolutionise the traditional workspace.
Alex, tell us a bit about yourself and Hello Work.
I’m project coordinator at Hello Work, which Allied London set up a year and half ago as a next generation property company to service their workspace assets. Hello Work looks at the new way of working and providing workspace for businesses of any size.
Where did the inspiration for Hello Work come from?
It came from looking at the relationship between start-ups and the property industry and the inefficiencies, especially in terms of cost, flexibility and how the traditional office market doesn’t allow for the new age of business to evolve and adapt to market demands. This is important from Allied London’s perspective, in regards to developing the right building that will stand for the next 50-100 years.
How does the concept of Hello Work therefore cater for those start-ups?
It works with developers to provide workspace for companies at every stage of the growth cycle, so whether you are a one man band with a great idea looking to hot desk or whether you are more established and want to take a number of permanent desks in the co-working facilities all the way up to the larger self contained units. The difference between competitors and us is that we allow for growth through our spaces, as well as nurturing our ecosystem keeping our community engaged, so it becomes the place you want to be! The concept began with start-ups; however larger international corporations are now evolving the way they work so the workspace concept becomes appealing to them also.
In terms of the roll out where is Hello Work currently and where do you plan to take it?
We have our first co-work space in Manchester which is currently 3,000 sq ft with 300 members and have an aggressive 24 month plan to open two more spaces in Manchester, one in Leeds and two in London.
Hello Work in Manchester is part of the Old Granada Studios site; do you envisage it being an integral part of the wider scheme?
Absolutely. It’s very much a site with the ‘Shoreditch feel’, based on creativity, independence, and creating experiential spaces. There’s currently no property company or platform to service those requirements, especially those with larger workspace requirements. We like to be forward thinking and work with different contractors, agents and the tenants themselves which in turn replicates our ethos and brand so it’s a great synergy. We have over 100,000 sqft of workspace and are at about 80% occupancy within 6 months.
In terms of your growth plans you mentioned London, are there any particular areas that you have your eye on?
It would be silly not to look at East London, however, we feel that does overlook other exciting areas. If you look at Southwest, Hammersmith for example there’s lots of exciting and established enterprise companies. All along the central line provides exciting locations for us, and not just your usual spots, we will concentrate on the micro market and ensure the fundamentals are in place.
With regards to the actual designs of the Hello Work space, where do you draw your inspiration?
We’ve travelled to the likes of New York, Amsterdam and Berlin and have been taking inspiration from a wide variety of places and spaces, which we then turn into reality with Hello Work. We feedback our ideas to our architects and they will translate our brief to provide us with a base concept, we’ll then evolve the top layer of design to make sure it has the Hello Work personal touch.
How do you see the co-working and serviced office market evolving over the next few years?
I think it will go national and establish itself as a core platform for the businesses discussed earlier. There is a lot of activity going on in the regions, they just haven’t shouted about it until now. I think it’s quite diluted in London already and we’ll see a retraction of co-working operators as they consolidate and evolve, the larger operators are now entering the market and will probably end up taking up an even greater market share.
How do you plan on promoting the Hello brand to become an established market player?
We invest a lot of time in networking, being a part of the community, attending events and become a face in the local community, before opening a space. Then we roll out our Hello campaign including a number of events which engage potential members. If we’re not sure on a location these events provide real-time feedback as to which areas work better than others. Upon finding the right location and property the whole promotion campaign escalates quickly including a carefully combined marketing plan. The real key however remains word of mouth and being embedded within the community, to demonstrate we are genuine as opposed to who has the largest marketing budget and who can shout the loudest.
To learn more about Hello Work please see www.hellowork.co.uk