By the end of this month Clockwise will have 17 shared workspace buildings. 

With a focus on the regional markets, we have spaces from Edinburgh down to Exeter – taking in Belfast, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, to name a few.

We’re witnessing an ever-increasing shift towards employee-led decision making. In a lot of cases, employers just want to create an atmosphere where their teams can be productive, collaborate and communicate.

Next month we will be hosting TechBlast’s inaugural FUEL Liverpool event on the Royal Albert Dock to bring together startups, scaleups and experts for a breakfast panel and series of masterclass sessions. I can’t wait to hear the stories of established figures in the city’s tech scene and also meet many more who are at various stages of the journey.

FUEL is an example of how, when we open a space, we focus on the local community and look to become a positive force within that setting. We also get involved in local business growth schemes and support business improvement districts and local city councils.

Ahead of the event, I’d like to highlight five ways in which the right workspace can help scale a business.

The joys of flex

From a purely financial perspective, I will always advocate for the joys of flex service space because of the ability to scale up and down really quickly. 

When an organisation has just received investment and is thinking closely about where they’re spending that hard-won funding, it’s important to recognise that in a lot of cases, rent can be one of their biggest overheads – and so it needs to be scalable according to the contracts they win and employees they take on. Those numbers might change quite dramatically and so, by not being fixed into something long-term, they can give themselves a better rate of business success.

Breakout office at Clockwise Liverpool

Breakout office at Clockwise Liverpool

At Clockwise, we get to know our members. We want to understand the growth they are perhaps anticipating, but also work to support them through the hard times: they might lose a key member of the team or contract and need to take two steps back to take one step forward. 

By having those forward-thinking conversations, we can earmark an office for the future; bring that forward if they grow more quickly than anticipated; or push it back if needs be. 

Our teams are keen to almost be an extension of our members’ businesses and to help support growth – because if they grow, that’s good for us too. And that’s the best way to do business.

Culture Club

It’s also important to think about hiring processes as they are a key part of scaleup businesses.

Everyone that has a great product or service wants a great team to help bring that to life – and a big part of any prospective employee’s decision is: what’s the working environment going to be like?

They might be expected to come into the office one, two or five days a week. A good workspace will allow the business to develop work patterns around this – and ensure that the environment is right for them to do their most productive work alongside colleagues.

We’ve got to support our businesses by creating spaces that are better than the option of working from home. 

So what are those factors which make it worthwhile going into the office? We have to make sure that the foundational pieces of the space are right; for example that there are adequate phone booths so that if one person has a call or virtual meeting, they’re not disrupting everybody else in that space. 

We also need to ensure that spaces are beautiful and provide that work/life balance which has been increasingly more important to employees, especially post-COVID.

Evoke founder to pass on ‘lived experience’ at FUEL Liverpool


Another key focus for us is community. We recognise that if you are a large blue chip organisation, you’re probably going to have a director of people, HR manager or office manager whose sole job is to provide those little moments of joy: buy the treats on a Thursday, organise an after-work social. 

Our members can benefit from the fact that our team will regularly host social events such as networking pub quizzes, sessions for personal or professional development, and health and wellbeing events in every one of our locations. 

It means that essentially a startup or scaleup can offer the same workplace perks that a huge organisation can at no extra cost – because we’re organising it. We work with local partners, from hospitality neighbours to local practitioners such as yoga teachers or public speaking experts, to really maximise value.

Clockwise Liverpool reception

Reception area at Clockwise Liverpool

We are very much hospitality-led – that runs through our senior leadership team, with vast experience in hotels and hospitality right down through our team. Why is that so important to us? Just think if you go to a restaurant and sit there with your glass empty: do you want a waiter to notice that, be proactive and offer you a top-up? You don’t want to be waving your arm around, trying to get their attention! You want someone looking at how they can give you those little extra magic touches that make your experience better. 

We try to do that for our members – but another part is how do we set that up between them? When you really know the businesses who are based in your building – not just what they do, but the great projects they’ve worked on recently; what a dream client looks like for them; the things holding them back from that next big step – you can connect those going after the same target market.

For example, we had a startup copywriter eyeing a large digital project who collaborated with a web designer and a video animator also based in the same space – and they ended up collaborating and winning the project between them. If they hadn’t been working in close proximity, they wouldn’t have even thought to put themselves forward for that opportunity.

FUEL Liverpool speaking line-up finalised


One of the benefits of going into a flexible workspace is all of your bills are in one monthly invoice so you don’t have to worry about managing 100 different suppliers – and especially around basic things such as waste management and consumables.

It’s all covered. As a result, one of our realisations is that in a lot of cases we are a business’s biggest supplier – so it’s really important that we advocate for responsible purchasing decisions. Are we making sure there are no single-use plastics where possible? Are we taking any opportunity to improve our clients’ green credentials? Are we getting involved in sustainability initiatives? We’re a very socially minded business: we have an ESG manager and one of his key remits is to help support our businesses in pulling together the data, the insight to make the process of building a sustainable business as easy as possible, while also ensuring we have a positive social impact on people and places at a local level.

Business owners want to be doing the right thing and making the right choices, whether that be sustainability or an adherence to fire and safety regulations. Ultimately, they didn’t start their business with that as a key objective, so it might not always be at the forefront of their thoughts; we aim to give them peace of mind by supporting with that.

Fuelling growth

So back to FUEL and how hosting an event such as this can really be of benefit.

Everyone there next month will have been in similar positions at various stages of the scaleup journey. They can share what they would do differently next time to help others avoid the same pitfalls; or describe for them where they saw their quickest or biggest win. It all helps with getting them through that next part of the journey faster.

We always want to make the cities that we’re in better: whether a better place to study, work, raise a family, or enjoy for leisure and tourism. We’re really lucky in the UK to have some very entrepreneurial cities. 

As a Northerner, I will always say I think we’re especially good at sharing and being very generous with that insight, which is lovely to see. There’s a real sentiment of ‘let’s raise the bar together on the best way to do business’ rather than competing with one another.

So any part of that that we can support with we’re all on board for.