Serviced offices offer a variety of advantages for businesses of all sizes – and could be right for you
Gem Diamonds is one of the most successful companies in the mining industry with major operations in Lesotho and Botswana. When it listed on the London Stock Exchange, it needed a permanent office in London. Chief commercial officer Glenn Turner was tasked with finding the right location.
His board gave him a list of rather tricky requirements. “Location was vital,” says Mr Turner. “We needed to be central. We are very fortunate in having the diamantier Laurence Graff as our largest investor and his flagship is in the West End. We need to be close to him and other investors based in the West End.
“We also need quick access to Heathrow. We have mines in Australia and Indonesia, so we needed to be near that hub.”
In terms of office size, the company’s needs changed month by month. Like many fast-growing companies, Gem Diamonds’ headcount fluctuates rapidly. “We grow or shrink as we acquire or sell mines,” says Mr Turner. “So we needed flexibility.”
The location had to be grand enough to impress visitors, without being showy. Visitors would require food and drink. And there was the question of IT support. Would Gem Diamonds need to build its own in-house support team? Or was there another way?
Mr Turner recalls: “We looked at all the cost implications of taking our own office and in the end went with a serviced office from Leo.”
In terms of location, Leo was able to offer the perfect spot in Eaton Gate, Belgravia. “It’s a grand old historic building. Other mining companies, such as Rio Tinto and Anglo American, are a stone’s throw away. And we are close to Paddington for the Heathrow Express.”
A serviced office solves the issue of varying need for space. Gem Diamonds takes more rooms and desks, or relinquish them, as they require. No dead space.
Absolutely key was Leo’s approach to service. Leo is renowned in the sector for taking extraordinary steps to offer outstanding round-the-clock care of clients.
Staff are trained to resolve any problem immediately, no matter how small. Gem Diamonds needed superlative service and got it.
“Take a small thing like catering,” says Mr Turner. “If we have ten people in, then suddenly refreshments will miraculously appear. Whatever we need, it is there. In ten years I can’t recall a time when we asked for something and it did not appear.”
This story highlights the many benefits of using a serviced office. From startups to FTSE 100 firms, it pays to make use of locations created and maintained by a specialist.
In terms of location Leo is unrivalled. Clients have the pick of 32 unbranded buildings in London’s zone 1. “We look for architectural standout buildings in great locations,” says Leo chief executive Tim Giles. The range includes stately Mayfair and Chelsea locations, and bright, modern glass and steel business centres in the heart of the City.
“An awful lot are corner buildings on the north and east sides of the street. These get more sunlight, which plays into the psyche of the buildings,” says Mr Giles.
Each location offers the same discreet philosophy. There is no branding of Leo to be seen or of other customers. This is a valued unique selling point of Leo; it means visitors are unaware whether the office is serviced or company owned. The uniformed receptionists are trained to greet customers by name, so the experience meets the very highest requirements.
Comprehensive technical support is a key part of the serviced office proposition. It starts with basic stuff, such as broadband and telephony. It stretches into the most demanding technical requirements, including datacentres.
At the core of this five-star offering comes a deeply ingrained customer service culture
“A lot of our customers in the financial services sector can’t use the cloud because of regulatory requirements,” says Conal O’Hara, Leo’s property acquisitions director. “They need to host and control their own data, so they make use of our server rooms.” This facility means companies can operate on a network, reducing lag-times and boosting security.
And what really distinguishes Leo from other serviced office providers? The key is the word “service”. Leo strives to supply whatever a client requests. As Gem Diamonds has found, Leo has a near-perfect record in meeting demands. There are regular client meetings, usually at two months and again at seven months, to ensure a good working relationship.
For those who want it, there are regular events that give networking opportunities throughout the year. Individuals using hot-desking space in particular value these opportunities to meet other customers.
As expected, at the core of this five-star offering comes a deeply ingrained customer service culture, which explains why Leo customers have an average stay of 35 months, considerably higher than the industry average. These benefits add up to a concept which outguns a company-owned office on multiple fronts.
“We have customers who are sole traders,” says Mr O’Hara. “These include high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs who don’t want to work from home. And we have multinationals that require extra project space.”
Pricing is transparent. Leo offers a fully inclusive pricing structure with no hidden extras. And unlike a proprietary office, occasional spaces, such as kitchens and unused offices, cost nothing.
The formula is proving hugely popular. Leo has been expanding year after year to meet demand and this year will add four new buildings in London, equating to 40,000sq ft of space.
Long-term tenancies are fuelling Leo’s rise. When companies experience the strengths of serviced offices, they typically extend their stay.
Gem Diamonds is now entering its second decade with Leo. Mr Turner says: “Overall we have been able to employ ten fewer people in our London office. We used to have an office manager and a procurement person. We offloaded those issues to Leo. The remaining staff were freed up to work on more important things.”
The advantages of a serviced office, combined with Leo’s unique customer-first approach, made it a simple decision for Gem Diamonds. As Mr Turner concludes: “Leo have been flexible and understanding. They are very good people to work with.”
To learn more about London Executive Offices visit leo.co.uk
FIVE REASONS TO USE A LEO SERVICED OFFICE
01 Thirty two stunning locations across the City, West End, Midtown, Marylebone, Kensington, Chelsea Knightsbridge and Belgravia
02 Plug and play – full IT support from telecoms to data-hosting
03 In-house customer service and maintenance team – you don’t even change a light bulb
04 Expand your office as your business expands
05 Professional uniformed staff who know your team’s names