11 June 2019

How to work collaboratively in the office

The benefits of collaboration in the work place have been proven time and time again. Yet a recent survey by ClearCompany showed that almost 40% of employees believe that people in their own organisation don’t collaborate enough. Luckily there are some simple changes that your team can make to increase effective collaboration in the office.

A great place to start is with your office space itself. Subtle alterations to your office interiors can foster ideation and collaboration. Informal break out areas like those at Proper Office are a great way to do exactly this as they provide a more relaxed and stimulating environment for ideas to flow. If your team are struggling with collaborative working, try making use of the spaces normally reserved for eating and drinking and see if a change in atmosphere (and a few cups of coffee!) is what is needed.

Whilst a bit of competition between staff is healthy and can boost productivity, is there a chance that competition is preventing effective collaboration in your office? Too much competition might lead to tension rather than a productive brainstorming session. Diversity is always a benefit, so play to each staff members’ individual strengths to limit unhealthy competition. During collaborative sessions, make sure everyone knows what their role is in that conversation and watch the teamwork flourish.

Collaboration comes much more naturally when your team are already friends. Regular team bonding trips and activities are not only important for morale but will also have benefits back in the board room. Feeling comfortable will allow for a much more free and open discussion and therefore more effective collaboration. Escape room anyone?

Our final top tip is not to let remote working decrease your team’s collaboration. A report by OddsMonkey estimated that half of the UK workforce will be working remotely by 2020.2 From digital whiteboards to the latest workflow tools, there is no end to technology designed to combat the potential pitfalls of this and restore cohesion to a widely spread team. There really is no excuse to let collaboration suffer!

A bit of experimentation never hurt anyone and there’s no one way to collaborate. Finding out what works for you may be the best way to achieve effective collaboration rather than forcing it. Either way, the result is a happier, healthier and more engaged team so there’s really no reason not to try. Our breakout areas at Proper Office are ideal for companies that are looking for an office that fosters collaboration. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if this sounds like you.



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7 June 2019

Meet The Professionals : Kitty Man & Ken Chow

Name: Kitty Man & Ken Chow

Title: Husband & Wife Co-owners of Ken’s Kitchen

Company: Ken’s Kitchen

Education: Kitty: University of Leeds – Chinese & Business; Ken: University of life!

What are the main things you do in your role? Kitty: Front of house – trying to keep a calm exterior whilst manically paddling. Ken: all the cooking, that’s why it’s called Ken’s Kitchen!

What are the first three things you do when you get to the work in the morning? Tea, tea and more tea! We probably should be called a tea shop rather than a coffee shop, Ken drinks tea by the pint glass!

How did you get your start in your career? Kitty: In my past life I worked in finance, but Ken has worked in food his whole life, from his time in Australia and Malaysia and then London, and Ken’s Kitchen is our first project together.

What is your favourite thing about what you do? Making people smile.

What is your least favourite thing about what you do? Anything to do with paperwork!

Where do you work: rented space, serviced office, owned office, co-working space etc? Why? Rented space. We did also look into market stalls, but luckily, we came into this space.

How important is your work environment to you? Our job is quite fast paced at times, but it is important for there still to be a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere.   

Do you prefer working open plan or individually? Why? Open plan – it’s the best when we’re working well as a team.

If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing? Would be great to be a full-time mum to our 3-year-old, but not sure that would pay the bills…

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting in the business? Just to go for it, you never know unless you try. When we started Ken’s Kitchen it was our first time running a business for ourselves, and we weren’t sure it would work, but we’re still here!

Did you have a mentor? We have been really lucky to have had the support from my parents and Ken’s mum. It’s truly a family business, the combined food industry experience from them is probably over 100 years!

Is there a motto or quote that you live by? We really pride ourselves on customer service and satisfaction, it’s really to treat others how you would like to be treated yourself.

What keeps you awake at night? Josh – our potty-training son!

If you were a superhero, what power would you want to have and why? Would be nice to be able to be in different places at the same time, maybe would be able to make more of a dent in my to do list!

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3 May 2019

Friends VS Colleagues:

Should you befriend your co-workers, or should you build a relationship with them that is limited to being colleagues? Millennials are constantly accused of blurring the lines of the workplace that were established by Baby Boomers and GenXers, but which generation is right?

Boomers and GenXers, who, better at keeping a degree of separation between their personal and work life, make a very good case for keeping colleagues at arm’s length and maintaining a level of professionalism with them outside of work:
Critiquing a friend can be tough. It is difficult to be objective when you are working with someone you consider close – you don’t want to risk your friendship by not backing that person in a company wide meeting, but you also don’t want to limit your progression at work by backing a bad idea, just because of who it came from.

You may overlook any problems that arise, or make excuses for your friend, where you wouldn’t for anybody else you work with. A lack of integrity will make it difficult for your colleagues to respect you. Favouritism has no place in the workplace.

Everything becomes work related – your work/life balance will be challenged (see our article here

This said, Millennials would argue that whilst it is important to be mindful of the above points, we spend so much time at work that friendships form naturally.

Many choose to work in a culture where friendship is the basis for interaction, with more and more young people selecting their place of work based on team, not job role and more shared working spaces choosing to provide the facilities to create social working environments – with ping pong tables, meditation rooms and communal dining areas proving great atmospheres to foster work friendships.

Whilst it is important to recognise that a different attitude is required within the confines of work, Millennials are proving that cultivating genuine relationships at work is possible – and can often result in a more productive and happier environment.

So, what are the facts?

A Relationships at Work study by LinkedInfound that 46% of work professionals worldwide believe that work friends are important to their overall happiness.

A recent study from the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, whilst unhappy employees proved 10% less productive.

It therefore seems that Millennials may be onto something, and that building work friendships can not only enhance your 9-5 existence, but also add something great to your personal life.

The science shows that work friendships are beneficial not only to the individual, but also to employers, as the State of the American Workplace Report produced by Gallup found that friendships increase employee satisfaction by 50%, lowering potential turnover.

Ultimately, it is up to you to define your work relationships, what works for you and just how close you want to be with your colleagues.

Proper Office offers plenty of communal spaces whether it’s in the excellent dining areas, the magic room, the picturesque rooftop garden or even around the ping pong table –  there’s something for everyone.

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29 April 2019

Why are team-building activities so important?

They say that teamwork makes the dream work – and at the office, where collaboration is essential, this is definitely true. Even more so for smaller teams, where events are easier to organise and a good working relationship is even more vital, as there is no hiding behind your laptop. But team building needn’t be dull or forced. There are plenty of activities that wouldn’t be counted as “organised fun” and would be inclusive of both extroverts and introverts in the office.

Activities such as heading out for lunch with colleagues, going for a day out together or learning something new, such as a dance class, can be a great way to spend time together outside of the office, let go of work-related frustrations and get to know your colleagues on a personal level!

Often, smaller teams are based in shared office space, which can feel like being an island rather than part of a community. This is precisely what Proper Office seeks to avoid, by putting on fun, communal team building activities. Yes, that’s right – your entire office and office neighbours will be invited to attend a new activity, communal gathering or networking put on by Proper Office- much easier than organising on your own, and a wonderful chance to make new friends.

This not only takes the stress out of who should play organiser, but it also gives you an opportunity to get to know new people, befriend your office neighbours and try out new activities.

This month, we organised a Bhangra afternoon, where all of the companies that share our buildings were invited to the dance class, for free. Teams bonded, companies were able to network and an amazing buffet, complete with drinks was put on afterwards.

Companies that attended said afterwards that the opportunity to laugh together and learn something new, outside of their comfort zones meant that they went back to the office renewed and refreshed, with a more positive outlook. This in turn makes employees more productive and happier people.

Finding shared office space that fosters a sense of community and looks after the mental well-being of your team – by hosting such events, having a relaxation room and great communal spaces can be tough, but they do exist! Weplan to put on many more events and want to continue to make our environment a great place to work. If this sounds  like a community you would like to be a part of, give us a shout!

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15 April 2019

Work/life Balance

The division of one’s time and focus between working and family or leisure activities.

“s/he needs to get his work-life balance right”

The perfect work/life balance can be an incredibly difficult feat to achieve in today’s modern world. Technology means that you are reachable almost always. Even the tube, which used to offer some tech respite now has WIFI connectivity.

With newfound constant connectivity leading to many working outside of office hours, how can you strike the right balance and ensure that you see your nearest and dearest as well as your colleagues


Once you leave work, switch that phone off and resist the temptation of cracking open your laptop ‘for 5 minutes’


And not longer. Learn to prioritise your workload.


Decide what works for you and stick to your own personal rulebook to ensure you are getting the rest and downtime that you need to recharge.


Having a poor work/life balance can lead to burnout, chronic stress and a lack of personal as well as professional progression as you are unable to give your full potential to either side of your life as a result of exhaustion.

Increasingly, employers are recognising the fact that work/life balance is important and necessary in order to maximise an employee’s productivity. Happy employees are in turn spokespeople for their places of work – the benefits are clear for both employees and employers.

At Proper Office we are in constant communication with our tenants and work together to provide a space where a good work/life balance can be achieved. We do so by offering plenty of communal breakout spaces such as the shared kitchen and canteen area, our ‘magic room’ (where you can come for a much-needed lunchtime lie-down) and gorgeous rooftop garden. We also have a ping pong table if you fancy getting competitive and host weekly yoga classes. We are always looking at new activities and networking events we can organise for you.

If you want to be part of a mindful shared office space in Shoreditch then Proper Office is for you. Get in touch with us through our website, here.


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3 April 2019


The unwritten rules of an office may not be featured anywhere physically, but they need to be observed for a harmonious and pleasant office culture. So, what should you be aware of?

Respect Others

It should go without saying, but sometimes the little things can add up. Make sure you are respecting your co-workers by always greeting them politely, always asking before you borrow anything – be it a post-it note or phone and ensuring that you keep your office space tidy.

Get to know your team members

The better you know your team members, the more you know how to work with them effectively, and the friendlier the work environment is. It’s good to have someone you can ask for a second opinion or chit chat with – see our infographic on the 5 kinds of work friends you need.

Stay home when you’re sick!

Survey findings published in Digital Healthcare Review by PushDoctor.co.uk revealed that 86% of people will go to work with a contagious illness rather than take a day off to recover at home. Be considerate of your colleagues by taking time off if you’re unwell. Not only will this keep illness from spreading, but you’ll probably get better quicker too!

Turn up on time

We all run late occasionally – be it due to forgetting your wallet at home and having to go back for it, transport issues or sleeping through your alarm. If it consistently happens, consider changing your daily pattern to disrupt this pattern of lateness.

Make rounds of tea and coffee

So much of British culture centres around a warm beverage and offering to make your colleagues a tea or coffee when you make yours has many benefits. For example, learning how your colleagues take their tea and coffee will win you brownie points!

Don’t steal lunch from the kitchen

We all remember that scene in Friends when Ross has a meltdown over his missing sandwich. If you need to borrow a little milk, loop back to point 1 – always ask and replace it as soon as you can.

These points are even more true when you are in a shared office space, as there are likely to be several communal spaces, such as the kitchen and relaxation areas. Being part of a wider community such as a shared office space can be great for meeting new people. By following the unwritten rules, you are contributing to a lovely atmosphere for all.

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17 March 2019

The Ins and Outs of Putney: March

Putney is reputed as ‘one of London’s most pleasant suburbs,’ and it really does have something for everyone. With our new serviced office space, Putney now has a growing number of start-ups and freelancers working in the area.

For March, we found the best places for you to enjoy just a short walk away from our serviced office spaces in Putney.

Where to eat…

From its cosy interiors to its mismatched furniture, Gazette Putney has perfectly captured the chic feel of a village café somewhere deep in the countryside of France – which is just as well, seeing as Gazette describe themselves as being ‘London’s most authentic French brasseries’. Their seasonal menu changes all the time, meaning it doesn’t matter how many times a year you pop in for something to eat – you’re always likely to find a new continental speciality to improve your day (and fill that lunch shaped hole in your life).

Where to go for a drink…

Some bars have quirky interiors, some have great live music and DJs, and some are known more for their speciality dining options – Lost & Co, right in the heart of Putney, splits the difference by having all of the above. It’s one of the best all-round bars in the area – suitable for a bite to eat (they’re particularly well known for their wood fired pizzas) and craft beers in the week, or selections from their proudly unique cocktail menu after work on a Friday.

Or, for something more traditional, the Prince of Wales prides itself on being an old-fashioned, no nonsense pub that welcomes anyone from groups of friends to work parties.

Everything else…

For an outdoor activity with a difference, why not learn all about the world of wildlife photography? On Friday 15th March, photographer Iain Green will be running an Introduction to Wildlife Photography course at the WWT London Wetland Centre. The all-day session will begin by guiding budding photographers through how to get the most out of their camera, before heading out to get some practical experience of snapshotting the surrounding flora and fauna. Find out more about the course on the WWT London Wetland Centre website.

If you’re looking for a small office for rent, Putney could be a great place to develop your business in the new year. Why not check out our offices and see which ones suit your company’s needs?

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7 March 2019

The Ins and Outs of Shoreditch – March

With the winter weather behind us, there’s also a new wealth of opportunities for places to eat, drink and be merry – all within walking distance of our serviced office space in Shoreditch.

Where to eat

Whether you’re looking for a great spot for an after-work meal, or just want to grab something during your lunch break, Nanashi is on hand for some of the best Sushi in the Shoreditch area – courtesy of their Japanese kitchen. The menu comprises all the sushi standards and old favourites, plus a few new modern twists, like their salmon or tuna sushi burger.

Plus, if you’re based in our Bath Place offices, you’re pretty much there already – Nanashi is situated on Rivington Street, almost exactly opposite the entrance to Bath Place.

For those of you who aren’t too keen on sushi, a more fail-safe option is The Jones Family Project. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is a family run affair, and it takes an equally no-nonsense approach to its dining experience – top tier steaks in the stylish downstairs restaurant, or cocktails in the chic upstairs bar.

Where to drink

In the short time since it first opened on the other side of Old Street roundabout, Nightjar has established a reputation as one of London’s most stylish bars. This old school style speakeasy is famous for its elaborate cocktails, including reviving long forgotten recipes and adding their own twist to some of the staple choices. They also host regular live jazz, swing and cabaret nights, making it the perfect destination if you’re looking for a particularly classy night out.

Other things to do

When it comes to fun, team-building activities that will bring everyone right back to their childhood, there really aren’t many options safer than a few games of bowling. The Brick Lane premises of bowling chain All Star Lanes has everything a retro-Americana themed bowling alley needs – bowling lanes, a restaurant, cocktail bar, and even multiple karaoke booths.

Or, if you don’t fancy embarrassing yourself with a steady stream of gutter balls and out of tune power ballads, Shoreditch institution Zigfrid Von Underbelly is hosting London Tap Jam, an evening of live music and improvised tap dance, on the very last Sunday of the month.

As London’s startup and small business centre, Shoreditch has no shortage of places to eat, drink and hang out – check the Proper Office blog regularly for our monthly recommendations.

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22 February 2019

Do Your Office Hours Affect Your Productivity

Do Your Office Hours Affect Your Productivity?

Whether you’re arriving at your desk hours early or burning the midnight oil at your shared office space in Shoreditch, how much of an impact are your office hours having on your productivity?

Do Longer Hours Make for Better Work?

When it comes to our working lives, there’s a tendency to assume that the longer the hours, the better the results. Whether it’s due to raised expectations, a rapidly approaching deadline or simply your own personal inclination to go above and beyond, many of us have found ourselves staying longer, arriving earlier or powering through lunch breaks without stopping.

In fact, there’s evidence that long, irregular working hours and stressful conditions are harmful not only to employee health and wellbeing, but company output as well. Tired, stressed and overworked employees are unlikely to be producing the very best work that they are capable of, no matter how late into the night they’re working, or no matter how many lunch breaks they’re skipping.

Overworking on one project or task can also take valuable attention and working time away from others – stress and burnout now account for around 40% of our sick days.

Employees and staff can both help to reduce the impact of workplace stress – thereby improving productivity – in a number of ways. Employers should be emphasising the importance of taking breaks and focusing on wellbeing, while staff themselves should make sure they’re sticking as closely as possible to regular working hours.

Now that the impact of working hours on productivity are recognised, an increasing number of employees are also experimenting with new approaches to their working weeks.

What is the Future of the Working Week?

Allowing employees to adopt flexible working hours is hardly a new development, but companies are becoming much more receptive to the idea. Whereas previously the practice was often limited to specific cases, such as to accommodate childcare, more and more businesses are letting their staff work for the hours that suit them – providing it does not inconvenience other staff.

This is also closely related to the rise of remote working, as technology has made it easier for staff to collaborate and communication regardless of whether they’re at home, on the train or in the office.

A growing number of companies are going even further. In 2014, Richard Branson’s announcement that he was offering his staff an unlimited holiday allowance was met with scepticism, but since then the idea has grown in popularity. Start-ups including JustPark and Songkick have both adopted the practice, and even claimed that it has improved their output and employee productivity.

Not every business will be able to offer unlimited holiday or a four-day working week, but there is a growing awareness and understanding of the fact that, when it comes to office hours, there’s more than one way of working. Longer hours don’t necessarily result in more productive employees, and finding the right balance that allows people to work in their own way can have real long-term benefits.

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14 February 2019

Meet the Professional – Max Saville, NDLDN

This month for our ‘Meet the Professional’ series, we spoke with Max Saville, New Homes Director of NDLDN. Based on Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch, NDLDN are a bespoke, independent property agency. Combining the hands-on approach usually associated with family businesses and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the East London property market, NDLDN are passionate about what they do.

We sat down with Max to find out more about what drives him in his career.

How did you get your start in your career?

One day I came across an advert in a South London local paper for an Acorn Estate Agents recruitment evening. I went along and ended up arranging a week-long trial, with no pay – three days later I’d been offered a role as a Lettings Negotiator. The rest, as they say, is history.

What are the first three things you do when you get to the office in the morning?

I put BBC News on, make myself porridge and coffee, and respond to my emails. Once I’ve done those three things I’m set for the day.

What is your favourite thing about what you do?

Negotiating, without a doubt – I love the buzz of finalising a deal.

What is your least favourite thing?

Paperwork – but then I’ve never met anyone who enjoys that part!

Where do you work: rented space, serviced office, owned office, co-working space etc? Why?

We rent an office on Great Eastern Street. A high street shop front was very important to us – to make the business a familiar presence that really stands out to people as they pass by.

How important is office environment to you?

Very – especially when you regularly have clients coming into your office, like we do. The atmosphere of your workplace is a key part of creating the right impression of the business.

Do you prefer open plan or individual offices? Why?

Open plan – it allows the whole team to communicate and interact, which is especially important in the property industry.

If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?

Before I went along to the recruitment evening, I had signed up to join the RAF – so I suppose I’d be there.

What keeps you awake at night?

At the moment, my new-born daughter!

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting in the business?

Live, breathe and eat property. You know that saying, ‘knowledge is power’? Well in this industry, it really is. If someone knows the London property market in more depth than you do, it’s time to brush up on your knowledge.

Did you have a mentor?

I did indeed, my Dad. I worked with him for a few weeks when I left school, and he instilled pretty much my entire work ethic during that short time. I’ve lived by it ever since.

Is there a motto or quote that you live by?

Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.

If you were a superhero, what power would you have and why?

To fly – I love discovering new places!

To find out more about NDLDN, take a look at their website. ‘Meet the Professional’ is a regular series on the Proper Office blog, where we chat to interesting people from the Shoreditch and Putney areas, and beyond – make sure to check the blog regularly for new post and interviews.

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