Joining the team from Ted Baker, this London-based team leader is proof that retail skills are a perfect match for the exciting world of coworking spaces
Being a social butterfly is second nature to Sydney. As the City Lead at Spaces Liverpool Street, she’s the human face of this coworking space, and that means two things: always having time for a chat – and a high tolerance for caffeine.
“Almost all of the clients love a good coffee. You get offered so much coffee that you genuinely have to rein it in,” she laughs.
Having joined Spaces after 14 years in retail, working with fashion brands such as Ted Baker, she was attracted to the “fast-paced and innovative” world of flexible workspaces, where she felt she could use her retail skills and channel all of that customer-facing, day-making energy in a growing sector.
Naturally effervescent and enthusiastic, Sydney has always enjoyed helping people find what they are looking for. But, with the Spaces clients, she feels almost part of their team. “What I love about this centre is the diversity,” she says. “I get to meet decorators, artists, doctors, tradespeople and financial types. Building relationships and encouraging collaboration between clients is what sets Spaces apart from the rest. And, unlike in retail, it’s an ongoing connection.”
She starts her day around 8am, just before the day’s coworkers appear, making sure that the space is immaculate and staff are ready to greet them. This neighbourhood’s clash of smart and hip, she says, is a big draw for London’s remote workers.
“You’ve got the shiny City feel of the financial centre, but also a historic aspect – with a church that survived the Great Fire of London – and then artsy Shoreditch around the corner,” she explains. “People know the transport links are great, but not everyone realises how many cool places there are to eat and drink.”
Sydney’s mornings see her checking in with the customers.
“I’ll walk through the centre to say a quick hello, or see if they’re expecting any visitors. When people would like a longer chat, we get talking about their projects, too.”
As City Lead, Sydney oversees a handful of nearby centres, facilitating the community atmosphere in each and supervising each individual Community Manager to make sure every client has what they need.
Between swapping stories with current clients, a big part of Sydney’s day is showing the space to prospective ones. There’s a lot to spotlight at Liverpool Street, she says, from private booths to stimulating break-out and collaborative areas, a convivial coffee shop and a huge Business Club.
This is where her retail skills kick in, as she diagnoses each client’s individual work style. “The more you know about someone, the more you can fulfil their needs,” she says. “I always find out a bit about their business and broader goals.”
The main draw with Spaces, she says, is its contemporary, lifestyle-infused aesthetic. “People want to be able to share the place they work in with pride, to bring their clients into a cool space,” she says. The light-filled rooms, the slatted wood and earth tones, sofa nooks, plants and objets d’art all appeal to startups and digital nomads – as well as larger companies that want a slice of that entrepreneurial spirit.
It’s not unusual to see customers snapping the space for Instagram, and Sydney herself admits that she’s poached some design details for her personal Pinterest board.
In the longer term, Sydney is counting down the days until Liverpool Street can relaunch its networking events, the pandemic having paused the rolling programme of talks, mingles, dance workshops, yoga and boxing. It’s this clubhouse atmosphere, she says, that makes the centre a pleasure to be in – during work hours, or after.
As her day winds down, she waves off the day’s coworkers, and makes a note of who’ll be back tomorrow. She’s passionate about ensuring they go away feeling inspired, having had the breathing space and choice of work environments (not to mention coffee) to stay creative and productive. “My goal is to be able to offer each user what they want, what they need – and sometimes something they didn’t even know they needed,” she smiles.
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