As your business changes, so does what you need from a workspace. As people choose to work more flexibly, in turn, workspaces need to be flexible. Whether that’s flexibility within your current space or the flexibility to move office spaces as your business needs to. And one company that knows more about this than most is Social Chain.
Based at Bruntwood’s 127 Portland Street building in Manchester city centre, the Social Chain team has grown from just 10 people to over 300 globally in just four years. We sat down with their Director of Happiness and People, Kiera Lawlor, to find out their approach to flexible working.
Now, we can’t speak for everyone, but we think Director or Happiness and People might just be the best job title we’ve heard for a long time. “My role is basically looking after the culture of the business,” explains Kiera. “I'm kind the go between of everything that happens in the office and the people. Whether that's down to design and ways of working or just what we get in for weekly shop. I always make sure that I get the opinion of everyone.”
Kiera has been with Social Chain since the early days, so she’s seen how the company has evolved, and played a huge part in it. “My job is to continually think of different ways that we can improve, change and adapt,” she says. “But the ideas come from everyone, it’s a team effort.”
Social Chain has been a “people-focused” business since the beginning, and making sure that the environment always works for all of their employees has meant that they have had to be flexible in changing the office to suit the team. As the team has expanded, so have the needs of their people. Creating content is a vital part of the work of Social Chain’s employees, producing reactive videos to news trends quickly and easily being a big of everyone’s role. “We’ve got new studio space upstairs for recording,” explains Kiera. “We used to just have the one which was quite difficult.” Being able to expand within the building has made working processes easier for the team and enabled the business to process their work far more smoothly.
“We’ve developed and expanded really quickly, and working with Bruntwood has been great because they’ve allowed us to expand,” says Kiera. “By expanding within the same building and into the offices nearby, we’ve been able to keep the team together. The last thing we wanted was for us to have to work in different office spaces.”
Social Chain has also added new breakout spaces, to allow people to work in way which best suit them. “We’ve got a New York subway train that we put in for little private meetings and one person pods,” says Kiera. “It’s quite a busy environment and there are people who work better in quiet spaces, so this keeps everyone happy. We like having different workspaces for people. Spaces where they feel comfortable and at home; where it doesn’t feel like an office and people are given the freedom of how and where they work.
And it’s not just the workspace that Social Chain think flexibly about. “We’re always trying to implement new processes,” explains Kiera. “It’s rare that people leave [Social Chain] and we find that the only time people leave is to go travelling, so we brought in a travel policy where people can travel for as long as they want and still have their job when they come back.
Being constantly flexible with their space, and always looking to improve and adapt means they are able to have and retain amazing talent. “Adding different spaces has allowed us to create a great culture,” say Kiera. “The environment that we’ve created here has been huge and has got us recognised as a business. As we've scaled, we’ve had to be more inventive with the way that we do things. We're constantly questioning our culture, so we’re always changing and working out what's right for everyone.”
So what’s next for the future of workspaces? “I think more work spaces are going to have to operate the way that we do,” says Kiera. “We're always trying to make it better, we never get complacent which is why we will always continue to change and adapt”. By 2020 the majority of the workplace will be Millenials and Gen Z, and more and more of these people are starting their own business because they want to work on their own terms. “If businesses don’t change then they’re not going to get the best talent.”
If you need to change your workspace, whether you need to upscale or downscale, speak to us and find out how we can help. https://bruntwood.co.uk/our-products/