Perspective

Stewart Whiting is Head of Product at Storey, the flexible workspace brand from UK commercial property company, British Land. With 10 years’ experience creating flexible workplaces and coworking locations, Stewart makes sure Storey spaces and services work brilliantly for customers. Involved in several successful start-ups in London, he understands the fast-changing needs of growing businesses and their teams.

In simple terms, what is Storey?
Storey is a flexible workspace business designed for scale-up companies, special project teams and satellite offices. Launched in 2017 as British Land’s flexible workspace brand, Storey provides an innovative alternative to taking a conventional lease for businesses seeking their own space, on flexible terms, that is managed on their behalf. Storey operates within British Land’s existing London assets, which have a critical mass of office customers and offer the ideal environment for ambitious organisations looking to grow.

What is the ‘sweet spot’ in terms of size of business you are looking to attract?
Storey appeals to a whole generation of scale-up businesses that have reached a point where they want to focus on building their own culture and identity while retaining flexibility to expand or contract. Storey also attracts existing, larger office customers seeking shorter term space for special project teams (on top of their core requirements) and multi-nationals setting up satellite offices in London. A great example of how Storey has facilitated scale-up businesses is our ongoing work with WiredScore, the company behind Wired Certification, the international digital connectivity rating system for commercial office buildings, which moved to Storey in 2017. Since then we have worked with them to increase their workspace at British Land’s Broadgate campus, recently facilitating their expansion into another building within our portfolio. We have also worked with connected vehicle technology innovator, Tantalum, building them space to help with a temporary expansion, and reducing their capacity after part of the business moved to a new market abroad. 

What is your role at Storey?
As Head of Product at Storey, I’m responsible for creating a platform that enables our customers’ workplaces to be flexible to their needs while representing their different brands and cultures. This involves thinking about how the physical framework of our buildings facilitate growth and adaptability and how the services and technology can improve productivity and create a unique workplace experience. 

What are the biggest challenges you and your team face?
They key challenge is finding the optimum mix of flexibility and personalisation. Storey is unique because we offer our customers both the flexibility and ease of the coworking model, with the sense of independence of a conventional lease. While we’ve learned from both worlds as well as from our customers, finding the right balance and achieving both is complex. The short feedback loop means we’re constantly learning and improving.

What skill or expertise have you been able to utilise from your previous role?
I started in the flexible workspace industry in 2007, working for a leading operator, heading up product and business development. Close relationships with customers helped me understand how companies needs change as they grow and the challenges they face when they naturally move on to conventional lease space. These insights were invaluable when we created Storey. 

I also ran a furniture business, facilitating the reuse of original 20th century furniture in commercial projects. It became apparent just how much old, unused furniture had been discarded and was being stored in warehouses, despite some pieces still feeling and looking current. It made me think a lot about our responsibility to design durable, timeless spaces and to avoid unnecessary waste.

I also did a short stint working for a friend’s band as tour manager. I was always struck by how rewarding it felt to play a part in creating experiences that made people happy. We constantly challenge the team to bring this feeling into the workplace, where many of us spend most of our time.

What is the one thing that you would change when working with architects and designers?
Close collaboration with our team of architects and designers has been instrumental in Storey’s success to date. Working together has helped us champion innovation, creativity, sustainability and flexibility for businesses, all of which make the Storey offering so unique. Alongside the architects and designers, we have teams looking at service design, technology and experience. Due to the frameworks in which we work, these disciplines can sometimes become too siloed. Finding time and space to work together as one larger team would only have benefits.

Are clients becoming more knowledgeable and therefore more challenging?
This is an exciting time. We are seeing a whole generation of small businesses that have grown up in coworking spaces and are now becoming scale-up businesses with the potential to be a big business of the future. They are moving to Storey because they want their workplace to be more cohesive with their values but do not want to take on the admin and extra resource that is required when taking a conventional lease. British Land is responding to them with Storey. from within their existing London campuses, which already have a critical mass of office customers, has enabled us to cater for companies of all sizes and mindsets. 

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