Creating a Flexible Workspace to Support a Growing Business
Ali Abdaal Case Study
A challenge facing many growing businesses is how to accommodate their expanding teams while maintaining the agility they had as a start-up. Doctor-turned-entrepreneur and podcaster Ali Abdaal is no stranger to this dilemma. His London-based team started out in a co-working space before moving to a serviced office. This was a stepping-stone in his plan to grow the business which would ultimately see the team relocate to premises of their own. While based at the serviced office in Clerkenwell, the team found the standard office equipment didn’t work for their particular set-up and wasn’t adaptable as the business grew.
“We’ve got a very fluid set-up as a company. We’ve developed into a hybrid team after coming out of the pandemic, which led us to getting this office space, and so finding furniture that could meet our unique needs as a video production-based company, both now and in the future, was important,” says Angus Parker, Operations Manager at Ali Abdaal. “Fundamentally we’re a creative business and as we’ve grown from four to 13 people over the last 12 months, the furniture has to work for everyone”.
The team realised that despite moving from the co-working space to the serviced office, they still didn’t have a work environment that really worked for them: “We quickly found the desks provided by the building didn’t suit our needs and didn’t provide the flexibility and usability that we really needed when we wanted to create multiple different filming shots within the space” says Angus. “It was also difficult to be able to work and record video simultaneously because the existing furniture wasn’t designed to be that flexible. We wanted to create a fluid space that would solve for that issue”.
Ali and Angus worked with the team at Herman Miller to choose furniture which would best support the needs of the team, with an eye to how it might work further down the line. Ali explains: “Filming is our most important activity and what we need the space for most critically. Our videographers needed to be able to quickly and easily move desks and furniture to create multiple different angles for videos and different studio designs for both videos and podcasts. With that in mind, we had specific requirements such as elevating everything onto castors to allow for that. But we also wanted furniture that will last and move with us”.
The space was set up using two versions of OE1 desks. First, two fixed desks where Ali and Angus could do their focused, head-down work were paired with an Embody Chair for Angus and a Mirra 2 chair for Ali. Second, OE1 desks on castors and Cosm Chairs were used for the team area. This space is perfect for any team member to sit down and work, but it can also be easily reconfigured as needed. Finally, a height-adjustable Ratio desk on castors was included for Ali’s video studio set up.
The new furniture has proven to be a success with Ali’s team, enabling the various needs of the space to be fulfilled. For Gordon Greenhorn, a freelance videographer with the team, things have simply become easier. “I can do my job at its highest level,” Gordon says. “The new desks have allowed me to create the space that I’ve always wanted. The simple addition of the castors has made a huge difference".
For colleague Tommy Mallen, the addition of the ergonomic Cosm Chairs shared by the team has been a bonus. “Wonderfully supportive and can be easily tweaked to suit any of the team members who have the pleasure of sitting on them”. Tommy adds: “The way we interact with our studio space is now much more flexible and creative. We can move things around to meet our needs and the office matches all of our creative needs”.
For Ali, working with Herman Miller has delivered a space that works for his business. “I’ve always had an affinity with Herman Miller and their products. My home office space is kitted out with their products, so it made sense to do the same for the team space. And it’s totally fulfilled the two main requirements of collaboration and flexibility. The previous set up didn’t allow for both of these things. It did allow us to collaborate, but that came at the expense of the flexibility in being able to have multiple filming set-ups, so it was important that the furniture fulfilled both requirements”. He adds: “But what makes things even better is that this furniture will be moving with us as we embark on the next phase of the business”.
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