Friday 2nd December saw the launch of the latest addition to BE Offices’ portfolio, 32 Threadneedle Street in The City of London.
Dozens of guests enjoyed an early tour of the newly refurbished business centre, which has been redeveloped over two years to the tune of £2million. Spread over five floors, the new workspace introduces another 190 workstations to this sought-after region of Central London – and its location is certainly one of the highlights.
Right in the heart of London’s financial centre, it’s moments from Bank underground and set on the same street as the Bank of England itself.
Entering the building on the ground floor, it’s straight into a communal lounge area – BE’s answer to “coworking”. There’s a reason it’s in quotation marks: managing director David Saul is, you could say, a little anti-coworking. “We prefer not to use that term,” he said. “Rather than a coworking space that’s open to everyone, this is a community environment for clients to sit, grab a coffee, take a call or just work from the sofa.”
While BE is firmly distancing itself from coworking (more on that later), they are fully aware of its appeal and have introduced its cafe-style essence into 32 Threadneedle as a service for clients.
Which brings us onto the next impressive point: the iPad-controlled coffee machine.
Gourmet coffee has become a staple of the best workspaces, and BE has certainly taken this requirement onboard. Operated by an iPad with a corresponding smartphone app for clients, it’s an indulgent perk that serves up barista-style coffee with a few quick taps. It can even be programmed to ‘remember’ favourite blends.
It turns out that tablets are good for more than just coffee, too.
One of the most noticeable elements of BE’s new centre is that it lacks a staffed front desk. Instead of a reception area, there’s a tablet mounted in a prominent spot by the front entrance. Its job is to ‘welcome’ visitors and point couriers in the right direction. As for incoming telephone calls, these are nearly all received directly by clients.
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“We’ve found that many of our clients are happier to bypass the reception service and receive calls themselves,” says Andrew Issott, BE’s Marketing Director. “However we also have a Centre Managers’ office on the ground floor right opposite the entrance, so a member of staff is always here to greet visitors if needed.”
Andrew also explained that Centre Managers are equipped with a tablet and bluetooth headset to receive and redirect calls to the centre, enabling Centre Managers to move around and interact with clients rather than being chained to the front desk.
But of course there’s more to BE’s Threadneedle centre than coffee and iPads.
The offices themselves are stylish and minimalist in design with characteristically zero branding. And in place of feature walls, every office has its own unique piece of artwork – plucked straight from the company’s extensive art collection. From commissioned steel wall mounted structures to quirky pint-sized canvasses and huge, vibrant panels (Nathan Bowen is a personal favourite), every piece is a unique part of a clearly much-loved collection.
The building itself is a work of art, too.
The historic property once housed the Bank of New South Wales, and the business centre’s lower floor features the original bank vault – a fascinating space complete with original bars and monstrously thick vault doors dating from the late 1880s. Today, the only treasures kept there are weights and fitness machines belonging to the centre’s on-site gym.
After a quick word with David and Andrew at the lively launch event, it’s clear that the refurbishment efforts have been well received – and the results certainly speak for themselves.