10 October 2016
Entrepreneurs have never been more giving with their time and the results are tremendous. You can really feel a wave of positivity rippling across the UK and beyond with startups being given a voice and a chance right from the outset.
One of the most difficult decisions in business is where you are going to locate.
‘Location, location, location’ used to be the stock answer for the importance of where you place your business. Coined by Lord Harold Samuel, the phrase describes the three most important aspects of any property.
There was arguably less pressure on where you put an office-run business compared to that of a restaurant but these days, with the high expectations of the younger work force, parking, transport links and convenience, all play a massive part in the decisions that people make when it comes to where they want to work; and why not?
We’d always opted for the city centre but, with rising office prices and a desire to one day own our own building, we eventually found No.1 Archway in Hulme. It is right on the edge of the city, leaving it convenient, but with ample car parking and plenty of space to grow.
I’d calculated that it would take us about five or six years before we need to consider a move, maybe even longer, however I got that completely wrong! With a fast growing business and a strategy to dedicate 30% of the building to relaxation and non-work related activities, it wasn’t long before we started filling up.
The campus is fantastic and the investment into design and innovative work and relaxation spaces really is helping productivity and making people feel proud of where they work.
I made a big mistake years earlier in City Tower, when we rapidly outgrew it. Instead of being decisive and biting the bullet, we spent too long searching for the perfect place.
Sometimes anything is better than being overly crammed in to a space. It’s hard to make people feel valued when there is nowhere to switch down a gear or just have a minute to yourself.
It was my number one priority when we started with UKFast Campus to give people a variety of different areas to relax, work out and hang out and, judging from the feedback, it’s something we have now done well.
So as the office started to full up rather quicker than expected, I realised the need to buy the building next door.
I think the best way to describe my first venture over the road to meet our neighbours as a polite, “sling your hook lads.” It was made very clear that the building was not for sale and they were very happy there.
The team at Laing O’Rourke have had the pleasure of watching some very strange goings on in the car park over the past few years. People dragging cars around with hefty ropes as part of a challenge and, on hot days, beaches and swimming pools erected with windbreaks, ice cream vans and beach balls aplenty. We’ve had an ice rink at Christmas and our office glows a wide range of neon colours 24 hours a day.
Eventually we struck a deal with the Laing O’Rourke team with the help of a friendly middle man, who helped us all find a win-win scenario. And today I am excited to say that the next-door building is now officially part of UKFast Campus. And, whilst we won’t need all the space right away, we have a plan for the surplus too with a view to build a small tech hub which has been in our plans for getting on for a decade.
We have had seven office moves in 17 years, since Gail and I set up UKFast in our spare bedroom of my flat on Oxford Road in the old Shell head office, and I certainly don’t want to have an eighth! This is a huge amount of pressure lifted and this expansion allows us to stay where we are and concentrate on our customers and building more fun and innovative work spaces.
So, to my Laing O’Rourke neighbours, thank you for helping us make this happen. We are very proud to be in Manchester and enabling us to concentrate our efforts in this location will help us enormously; I am eternally grateful.
If you are one of those little UKFast’s of the future bulging out of your bedroom and bursting for help to get to the next level, it might be worth getting in contact and putting your name down to join our tech community. Priority, of course, will go to our clients, however it’s worth a conversation. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.