The future office: space-as-a-service

Face-to-face meetings are better than virtual ones and that’s official. Researchers from Cornell University in the US have found that asking people to do something in person is more than 34 times more effective than asking them to do the same thing by email.

It is something that business executives know instinctively but now the science says has proven it. This fact may explain the success of The Clubhouse, London’s leading business club, business lounge and meeting space, which was founded in 2012 by Adam Blaskey and is now in four locations across London: Mayfair, St James’s, Bank and Holborn.

Adam says, “The Clubhouse started out with my own frustration about having to meet clients in uninspiring, unproductive places around London. The Clubhouse fills a gap in the market to provide a smarter and flexible alternative to working out of coworking spaces or serviced offices and meeting in hotel lobbies or coffee shops.”

Coffee shops may be on every corner now but their ubiquity means they attract everyone in the community, from parents with crying babies to students chatting loudly about what they did last night. Add to that the clash of cups, the sound of coffee machines and background music and it does not make for a professional and productive business atmosphere.

The Clubhouse fills a gap in the market to provide a smarter and flexible alternative

The Clubhouse offers members everything they need to run their business in central London without the costs typically associated with prime offices: flexible meeting areas, hot desks, dedicated desks and a range of meeting rooms, boardrooms and presentation rooms as well as the usual range of business services such as couriers, printing and copying provided by a great front of house team. The Clubhouse can also act as a virtual office, offering both a prestigious central London addresses and taking care of incoming mail.

Services included at The Clubhouse are as would be expected, including complimentary WiFi, refreshments, fresh fruit, tea, Nespresso coffee, bike racks, showers for members to use and, best of all, a deli with a delicious range of salads, sandwiches and wraps.

Adam refers to The Clubhouse offering as “Space-as-a-Service”, a nod to the cloud-based business model that has been so transformative for so many companies and that is no longer just confined to the software industry.

“Think back to the days when we had to physically back up data on hard drives or purchase software on CD-ROMs – all of which is now done in an instant, as and when you need it, in the cloud,” says Adam. “People are realising that they can do the same thing with their office space and it is particularly powerful because technology and cloud computing has allowed businesses to grow so much to the extent that it’s virtually impossible for any business to predict what their headcount is going to be in the next three to five years and you might spend a fortune leasing somewhere that you may outgrow beforehand. Smarter, more agile companies are looking at flexible alternatives like The Clubhouse to expand or contract in line with their business.”

Pauline Hudson-Evans, co-founder of Hudson Walker International, who is a regular at all of The Clubhouse locations, says, “We were in a leased office in Dover Street for 20 years but in a changing business landscape we no longer needed a dedicated space with all the associated costs and frustrations. I had attended an event at The Clubhouse and saw the benefits of an on-demand office space: flexibility, freedom from having to deal with landlords, cleaners, utilities etc. These benefits, combined with much lower running costs, have improved our cash flow and mean that more of my time can now be spent focusing on our core business.”

Whilst there is no typical member of The Clubhouse, the vast majority are larger SMEs which are growing quickly and have offices outside of London, needing a London base for their senior teams. They might come in from the regions and need a space for board meeting or offsite strategy day or want a neutral space where they can meet clients, consultants, investors or suppliers based in London.”

Robert Dubsky, CEO of superyacht brokerage Yacht Masters, uses The Clubhouse in just this way.

“We have an office in Berkshire, near Ascot, where our brokers can base themselves, or The Clubhouse Mayfair, when meetings are taking place in town, a boardroom environment is required or simply a change of scenery,” he says.

It’s not just about larger businesses. Mich Turner MBE, founder of the Little Venice Cake Company, regularly uses The Clubhouse St James’s. The company makes designer cakes for clients such as David Beckham and The Queen.

“The Clubhouse quite simply gives me complete flexibility without the overheads of a central London office and is ideal as so much of my time is spent travelling overseas and filming,” she says.

The Clubhouse quite simply gives me complete flexibility without the overheads of a central London office

“What really binds our members together is that they are successful entrepreneurs or C-suite executives in their mid-30s to mid-60s. It is very different from the start-ups you might expect to find in more typical co-working spaces,” says Adam.

There are three categories of membership available, offering a range of flexible options for businesses: Executive Memberships are designed for people who need a London base for one or two days a month; Club Memberships are perfect for those wanting access one or two days a week; House Memberships are the smart alternative to a permanent London office, giving daily access to all of the Clubhouse facilities.

The Clubhouse is not just a place to meet or work – there is a rich calendar of member events throughout the year, including business breakfasts and evening events with inspirational speakers. Those who have shared their insight with members in the past include Matthew Crummack of GoCompare, Justin King, ex CEO of Sainsbury’s, Richard Joseph of JosephJoseph, Sinclair Beecham, co-founder of Pret a Manger and Nick Wheeler of Charles Tyrwhitt.

The Clubhouse’s footprint is set to expand in the future too.

“I have always viewed London as a group of urban villages with different personalities, not just the residential areas such as Notting Hill, Wandsworth or Hampstead but also the different places where people work: Mayfair and St James’s in The West End, The City, Mid-Town, Canary Wharf, and developing areas such as Kings Cross and Victoria. We have great coverage with our network of Clubhouses but we are also looking to expand further.”

With its flexible Space as a Service concept, The Clubhouse and its growing network of locations is the future of face-to-face meetings and clearly a better way to do business.

Find out more about London’s leading business club and the “Space as a Service” concept here