How a research company found their new work-home at Work.Life Old Street

Workplace wellness
Estimated read time: 4 mins
Published: 11/03/2024

We met Tim Gowing this month, Partner & Board Director at Ninth Seat, who’ve just taken the plunge and moved their team to Work.Life OId Street. We caught up with Tim about life as a leader, the complexities of searching for a new office, and why they landed on Work.Life Old Street. 

Hi Tim! Could you tell us a bit about yourself and the company?  

Hi! I’m a Partner at Ninth Seat, and we’re an insight agency that was founded way back in 1984 and have spent most of that time based in the same office in Angel. The company has changed a lot during that time, but the building has pretty much remain unchanged!

We went through a rebrand a few years back to reflect the change to our business and went through B Corp certification. We’re now coming up to our first anniversary of being a B Corp, which is so great, it’s integral to our values as a company.

There are about 29 of us in total, most concentrated around London but we also have an office in Leeds and several fully remote workers.

And what does Ninth Seat do exactly?

We’re a market research company, which essentially means we undertake consumer research to understand people opinions and behaviours – everything from quantitative surveys and statistical analysis, to qualitative focus groups and sensory research.

We are lucky to work with a real range of  great clients, such as Unilever, Dyson, and Merlin Entertainments, but just as importantly I work with a great team of creative and talented researchers.

What’s your company culture like?

Really good question – every year we do a well-being survey and get the results back, so I’ve actually seen the stats, and I can genuinely say we’re a very nice place to work! We’ve got quite a flat structure with a fairly senior team, people who have a lot of experience in research. We work very collaboratively; everyone gets their hands dirty. We’re that size of company where everyone still gets involved in the day-to-day elements of the job, and still get excited about it.

I think ‘family’ would be very cliched, but I’d say we’re a close-knit group. The majority of people in the company have been here a long time – I actually started in this company as a graduate, and we’ve currently got two members of staff who started as placement students on their university course. One of them is in a senior management role and the other one is a good six years in now, so people do tend to stick around!

What made you look for a new office solution?

Well, we’re lucky to have been in an office forever, really – we looked at moving back in 2016 when our lease was last up (good old long leases!) and at the time, everyone was still going to the office every day. When we looked around we did think of serviced offices, but it was early days, and the price comparisons seemed prohibitive. We realised the office was quite uninspiring and was never going to have that real buzz of excitement due to the size of the team, and that was even pre-Covid.

That’s especially changed the way we’ve all worked, so most people only come to the office about twice a week, and we’ve got way more remote workers, with people moving out of London and away. We just don’t have that critical mass within the company, so to come into the office, some days you can feel like you’re the only person there – like, wow, I spent an hour coming in on the tube just to sit on my own? So much of what we do is talking to people and our best ideas come from collaboration, which works to a certain extent remotely, but there’s just real value in getting people together on a frequent basis.

We want people to want to come into the office, not through a mandate, but by being an inspiring place to work. Being a small company, you’re in that situation where you only meet a certain number of people in your own team, and I think that’s something that we really saw from Work.Life, the community was there.

What were you looking for in a new office – and what was it that sold it to you at Work.Life Old Street?

We went through the process of looking for what we wanted and we went to all the usual suspects of flexible workspaces. Then, the way I cycle home, I go past the Work.Life in Camden, and I’d seen it as a brand and thought, ‘Oh, looks like there’s one just down Old Street, I think it must have just popped up.’ So we decided to go for a tour – four of us went down for the initial meeting, and it was the first one we all walked out and thought… “we can see ourselves being here”. It was really driven by the team. The atmosphere didn’t feel forced, it felt like people were genuinely happy in their jobs. And I think that just makes a huge difference.

And then there was the huge bonus, of course, that Work.Life are a B Corp – it’s very much aligned to our own way of doing business, in that we’re not in here just to make money, we want to do good with what we do and to feel proud of what we do.

It was also great having a trial day – it was going to be a very different way of working for us, and just being able to do that, we realised that it was gonna be a lot easier than we thought. We went on the busiest day possible and still had loads of space for everything we needed to do, we managed to use the phone booths, overall it was just a really positive experience going into it.

Finally – what’s the main benefit you’re hoping to get from basing your team at Work.Life Old Street?

The coffee… Yeah, definitely. That’s gone down very well. I think we’re going to have a very well caffeinated team.

Looking for your new work-home? What are you waiting for?! You can book a tour here



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