The idea for Space32 came to Jon Dweck two weeks into lockdown, as the realisation sunk in that the way we work had to change for good.
As a business leader in recruitment, he didn't want his teams to go from five days in the office to "come and go when you want" — compromising a healthy culture they’d worked hard to build, threatening the togetherness that people loved so much about working there.
So, he asked his teams what they wanted, and the meet-in-the-middle solution was three fixed days in the office each week, with two fixed days at home. Set days where the team could be together, collaborate, and benefit from everything around that. And set days to strike the best work-life balance from home.
Jon wondered if he could find another business that wanted the two days in the office they no longer needed, mindful of the wastage in paying for empty office. Turns out he could. Pod Talent became the first Space32 "Hybrid Landlord" in 2022. And with that, Space32 was born.
Here, we find out more about the thinking behind Space32 and the long-term ambitions for a first-of-its-kind office marketplace.
Describe what Space32 does in one sentence.
JD: We help businesses find the ideal hybrid working office solution for their team, that works for their people and their business.
Who is Space32 for?
JD: Office-based teams of between five and 50. But really we’re for teams that want to find a sustainable balance between office and home life. One that doesn’t compromise any individual element, be that a sense of belonging, collaboration, training and development reduced time commuting, more time with the family or more time in bed. Plus anything else a balanced working life should give you.
What are the challenges you are looking to solve for these people?
JD: Our first focus is to provide businesses with a choice on how they use office space, so that we can reduce wastage in the industry. The average full-time office is around 25% full at any given moment. That’s a waste of space, energy and money and encourages more construction that isn’t needed. We need to reduce the amount of office space per office worker, and a really great way to do that is to share the same space across multiple businesses on different days of the week.
Why was now the right time to found the company?
JD: The pandemic changed everything. The average office worker in the UK spent 4.2 days in the office before Covid. Since Covid that’s reduced to below 2.5. Businesses need innovation from the office leasing sector and we want to deliver it.
And why you, and your team? What unique skills and experience do you have to build an offering such as this?
JD: The office leasing sector can learn a hell of a lot from recruitment (me) and hotels/hospitality (Rich – my cofounder). Our broader team brings excellence in technology, customer acquisition, product development, execution and fundraising. And we want to make the world better and won’t stop until we succeed.
What’s your ideal office, and why?
JD: I have Middle-Eastern blood so for me an office needs to feel as welcoming as a home to anyone that enters. It should be a flexible space with different break-out spaces to carry different moods. Plus communal spaces that encourage people to eat together, and foster friendship after work. And of course, it should be easily accessible with great places to socialise nearby.
In three words, tell me what working culture you strive for as a business leader?
JD: Unity. Integrity. Progression. But if you asked me tomorrow, I might say fun, ambition and openness.
What keeps you motivated?
JD: Motivation is not a level line somewhere between 90-100%. I’d be cynical of anyone that tells you otherwise. I maintain the best levels of motivation when I’m working on something that I think can have a real impact, especially for people. I need a purpose to be happy and I feel like purpose, happiness and motivation are all connected.
What’s been your proudest moment to date with Space32?
JD: When one of our first hybrid office customers said: “I’d never know that another business was here on the days we weren’t”. That was the best possible proof our concept was working.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
JD: Our business model. It took almost a year to figure out. We got there in the end, though.
Since the pandemic, how have you changed the way you work? And the working environment you facilitate for your people?
JD: I now work three days in the office (Monday, Thursday, Friday), and two days at home (Tuesday, Wednesday). On my home-working days I take my kids to school, pick them up and then attempt to manage dinner and bath time. Beforehand, I hardly saw my kids during the week. I’ll never go back to that. My team all work the same format as me. They have a budget for remote working that’s there to use if they choose, either to make their home more comfortable when working there or to get a local coworking spot for their home days.
What are the most pressing issues of office strategy that business owners should be considering today?
JD: With inflation where it is and the cost-of-living crisis in full effect, I would say wasted cost is now top of the list. Aside from that, office strategy is now directly linked to working pattern strategy. One doesn’t exist without the other. So business owners need to find the right sustainable office vs home working patterns for their teams. The impact of a poor office strategy? Businesses simply won’t be able to hire and retain great people.
Where do you see the future of the office in five years from now?
JD: I see a strong proportion of businesses working a fixed hybrid model in hybrid offices either working a 3:2 or a 2:3. I see a large proportion of businesses working out of fully-fitted office space paying simple monthly all-inclusive costs, without having to commit to lease lengths above three years. Within an office, I see an ongoing shift towards collaborative and community space from desk space. We will still need desks, just the proportion of an office dedicated to desk space will reduce. I’m excited to see how spaces evolve to enable better video interaction, creating inclusive work environments for those in the office and remote.
What do you want Space32 to be known for?
JD: I want Space32 to be known for redefining how people work and how landlords offer most sustainable office solutions.