Workspace of the issue: Us&Co

Us&Co is a workspace provider that creates unique workspaces designed to reflect the way professionals actually work.

“We own our buildings and design them specifically to be flexible offices, whereas many other operators take on other people’s buildings and adapt them,” said Mark Breen, Chairman of Us&Co. “We buy tired buildings and extend and repurpose them, and they, therefore, have a good carbon footprint – our electricity is 100% from renewable sources. As we redevelop them from scratch, we can design in all the flexibility that we will require in the future.”

Each of its workspaces has a unique selling point, a factor that Breen mentioned is important to the workspace provider: “Most importantly, we find and create a USP in each building: a stunning entrance hall or spiral staircase or terraces with fantastic views.”

What is the vision and purpose of Us&Co?

Every workspace has its own vision and purpose, and Us&Co wants to be the space where anyone and everyone can come and work.

Breen explained that Us&Co’s purpose is: “To provide workspaces offering all the amenities people expect these days, which are strong on design but with a more professional work atmosphere than that of a student campus.

“We want to be attractive to all kinds of businesses rather than looking to curate from a particular sector, more like the real world rather than a specific industry bubble.”

Having a variety of businesses within its spaces creates an energetic atmosphere, allowing for diverse networking opportunities, enhanced creativity and innovation, a boosted community, further learning and development opportunities, and much more.

The Us&Co history

The first Us&Co opened back in 2017, but the founders were no strangers to the concept of office spaces.

“We had already been in the business of serviced offices 20 years ago. That was a different concept – we had six buildings in prime West End locations offering top-of-the-market offices to corporates and hedge funds. It was called Argyll; we sold the business in 2004, and it has grown considerably and still exists today. At Argyll, we provided no amenities and charged separately for all services. At Us&Co, we wanted to respond to the new way of working, offering an all-inclusive package with great amenities to appeal to a wide range of occupiers,” Breen mention.

Having worked in the space for so long means that Us&Co has experienced minds behind the magic, making its workspace offerings so successful since the launch.

Why do startups, founders, and businesses use Us&Co?

“Our ability to provide small offices has been very popular with startups as it is hard to find small offices in a great building. In fact, over 60% of our clients in Stratford occupy five to six-person offices,” Breen remarks.

With startups often only needing small offices, workspace providers such as Us&Co prove invaluable to smaller startup teams that may not require an entire office yet.

Breen continues: “We then have a lot of movement within our buildings as existing businesses expand or contract. The great amenities, the professional look, and the service we provide in our offices are what attract and keep our clients in our buildings. We have achieved our aim of having all sorts – we have a Korean fashion design company, an American tyre company, a talent management firm, recruitment consultants, logistics, and solicitors, but we also have a variety of fintech companies and more recently, ESG Consultants. One of our clients at Stratford is a local government initiative to promote business in the area called Stratford BID, which can be helpful to startups.”

The office spaces

Us&Co currently operate two buildings, one at 11 Burford Road, Stratford E15, and one at 7 Harp Lane, EC3 in the City of London near Monument.

Breen explains: “Each building is unique: in Monument, the building is made up of nine floors, each 2,500ft2, so apart from two floors which have been sub-divided into smaller offices, the rest of the building offers clients the opportunity to have their own fully self-contained floor with its own breakout area, kitchen, and meeting rooms. This bridges the gap between a traditional leased space and a serviced office. They all benefit from the use of our 9th floor Club Space, which offers stunning three-way views of the Thames and the Shard, the City of London, and Canary Wharf.

“In Stratford, most of the space in our building is used for private offices of all different shapes and sizes, but we also have fixed desks in open-plan areas which you can hire by the month, a hot desking membership which allows you to access the building 10 days a month, and day passes.”

Offering a variety of spaces within its two workspaces means that startups and founders can pick the type of workspace arrangement that suits them, from simply hot desking as a single founder, to a smaller office space once the team has expanded. As mentioned by Breen earlier, the workspace has seen a lot of movement as companies grow and wish to stay working at Us&Co.

Within the spaces, Us&Co offers a range of facilities, from phone booths to smaller meeting rooms, to large boardrooms that can hold up to 28 people. It also provides event spaces for training purposes, conferences, product launches, or client receptions. Community is key for the workspace provider, offering “breakfast receptions for clients, cocktail evenings once a month, and a beer fridge, open every Thursday afternoon.”

Why do people use Us&Co over other workspaces?

“What persuades people to take space with us are our unique selling points, such as the design of the buildings and the amenities, like our terraces with fantastic views, etc. But we retain our clients because our facilities are well maintained by our in-house maintenance team and equally importantly, the excellent service our clients receive from our staff,” beams Breen.

“Both buildings have a real community feel and a great atmosphere in which to work, and that is mostly created by our excellent staff. They constantly come up trumps when we carry out client surveys, and that is why we have a very high client retention rate in our buildings. Whilst most clients sign up for a year initially, many end up staying for several years. Some clients in Monument have been with us from when we first opened, going on six and a half years.”

Creating such a positive and community-first atmosphere within a workspace is key to ensuring longevity, which is why the workspace continues to be a popular choice amongst professionals.

What’s next for the workspace?

Having almost seven years under its belt, Us&Co is already a successful space, but it has big plans for the future.

“We are currently looking to raise new equity to expand and would like to get to eight-10 buildings in the next couple of years. We see this as a moment-in-time opportunity to buy tired buildings needing capital expenditure and repositioning them to create the kind of working environment that people require today,” Breen concludes.

This article originally appeared in the March/April issue of Startups Magazine. Click here to subscribe