Posted on November 1, 2018 by staff

London tech boss let staff vote for favourite office


The boss of a London tech start-up has revealed he took his entire workforce on several office visits before voting on their favourite space.

Ritam Gandhi is the founder and director of Studio Graphene, a company which specialises in developing ‘blank canvas’ tech products and helps bring ideas to life.

“We work with start-ups, corporates and anyone really who wants to use technology to do something new” is how he describes the business.

Gandhi was speaking at BusinessCloud’s latest event in the capital, ‘Is London’s tech property bubble about to burst?’, which brought together entrepreneurs and flexible workspace providers to discuss the future of the city’s tech property sector.

He revealed that he and his team visited seven or eight office spaces across London hoping to get a unanimous decision from his employees – but got very different views.

“What was really interesting was how people had very different priorities of what mattered to them – it was quite surprising,” he said.

“In the end we had a simple democratic vote and chose the office that most people rated as their favourite space. I actually thought doing it as an activity was quite useful.”

In the end they opted for Huckletree Shoreditch, in Finsbury Square.

As an early-stage technology start-up, Gandhi says it was important to choose an office space that was “vibrant”.

“We wanted a place we felt was creative, not sterile, somewhere where we felt engaged, had good facilities, nice meeting rooms and breakout areas,” he said.

Also speaking at the event was Leigh Brody (pictured above), chief scientific officer at Desktop Genetics, which she describes as a cross between a technology company and a biotechnology business that focuses on CRISPR genome editing.

Brody revealed that the company looked at 50 potential offices in London two years ago and described the experience as “exhausting and stressful”.

“There was a group of us, and I was the only female and the most vocal about wanting to find a new office space,” she said. “I had no idea about what the office situation was in London until I got involved in this project. We looked at a number of different properties and found it stressful and overwhelming.

“Things were really overpriced, for what they were, in some places. We found some spaces that went up to £600 per desk per month because we were trying to find the all-in cost of things.

“As a tech company that has investment and relies on venture investing, it’s tough to stomach that amount of money and going to your board and saying ‘if you want this really nice office it’s going to be £600 a month per desk’. No one is going to accept that.”

The event was held at the 20 Air St offices of innovation hub Wayra UK.