The task of finding an office that does right by your team and reflects your brand and culture can be huge. And when you’re a design-led company? Even huge-r. And when you’re also growing like bamboo? Grab the popcorn!
Almost overnight, MADE.com has become a leader in the furniture and homeware market.
By selling beautiful, affordable products online, the company has been gradually furnishing homes across the UK and beyond. They now have offices in Paris and Berlin, as well as further afield in China and Vietnam.
Fast growth means more space… plus lots more to consider that doesn’t crunch down quite as easily.
They needed a hand finding a new home for their ever-growing team in east London, and we were lucky to be the people who helped.
We caught up with HR director Kate Humber, who led their office search, to get the lowdown.
When did MADE.com realise it was time to move?
“Quite simply we outgrew our old office. We’re a rapidly growing business and now have about 200 people in our London office. The company’s been going for over eight years and has grown hugely since its inception as a small startup in a single room to about 400 employees globally. We’ve moved offices a few times. In the early days from Notting Hill to an office behind our showroom on Charing Cross Road and now to our new home here on Singer Street.”
What was the most important box the new office had to tick?
“As a design-led company, we wanted to find a space that would reflect our brand. We wanted a space which we could fill with our own furniture, where we would be proud to receive visitors and which staff would really connect with. Natural light was really important, to complement the design that we planned to implement.
Finding the right size to match our budget was a fundamental factor too.“
Why did MADE.com choose to move to Old Street from the West End?
“Before we started the search, we created a map marking the address of every single employee. We quickly realised that everyone is completely spread out, coming from north, south, east and west London. So really, being in central London with a good transport link was important. We looked in lots of different areas within zone one and Old Street felt like a good match for us.”
What brought MADE.com to Kontor?
“Kontor was recommended to me and as soon as I met Luke and Gavin I could tell straightaway that they understood us and our brand. They’ve got a great track record of working with creative companies and startups, so I felt that we clicked.
They had a network of interesting spaces that were a bit different, which is what we were looking for, and they took the time to understand our brief and ask questions.”
How did the viewings go?
”We probably looked at about 10 or 12 buildings in total, but this was scheduled well, so we only had to knock out a few afternoons to look at different selections. Then it was a case of shortlisting.
I’m an HR director, not a building specialist, so I really appreciated that Gavin could explain different fundamentals, point out factors and recommend how we could approach different parts of the move.”
What stood out about the Singer Street workspace particularly?
“It’s a lovely building in a great location - Old Street underground is only two minutes’ walk away. We’ve really been able to make it our own, and the staff love it. The space has really transformed the whole working experience for the team and reflects MADE.
It also gives us room to grow and creative space to hold events.”
Had the plan always been to lease an entire office?
“Although having the whole building wasn’t one of the core criteria for us, it was a really attractive option. It means that the moment you walk in the door the space is all ours. There’s no generic shared space. We took the space as ‘cat A’ [a totally blank slate, no fit-out], so we could really make it our own.”
A lot of businesses encourage employees to hotdesk, perhaps to save space. But MADE.com has fixed desks?
”Yes. Although we have lots of flexible working and breakout spaces within the building, we really felt that people like to have their own desk. It gives people much more ownership of and connection with the space as a whole.”
Top piece of advice for other folks who are looking for an office?
”It’s important to be clear about your requirements from the beginning, defining what you’re after, but at the same time you need to keep an open mind. You don’t know what you’re going to see.
Also on paper it’s very difficult to really see what a building is going to be like. You need to get out and visit different spaces. It’s a bit like buying a house - you get that feeling when you find the right one.”
Thanks Kate - lovely to catch up as always. All the best for the next chapter at MADE.com!