eOffice, 1 Portland Street, Manchester


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An office revolution is being driven by demand for new ways of occupying offices, particularly from start-ups and occupiers who can work from portable computers almost anywhere.

eOffice is a striking example of the potential, offering space geared to the vibrant start-up and footloose 'road warrior'. Breaking from the conventional they offer predominantly open plan shared space, as compared to 'boxes to rent'. New technology is at the heart of the concept. Techniques cherry picked from the hotel industry enable anyone to 'plug in and work' seamlessly. Mobile executives can drop in or start a business from a desk rented by the hour, day or forever with the swipe of a card. An integrated 'working wall' allows them to collect mail, store belongings, hang a coat or grab a coffee.


High quality furniture with a range of configurations and services have made good use of a base building on a busy city centre corner. A key difference to similar projects is the open plan layout and quality equivalent to a top hotel. This is more an office club than a workshop - in the words of the operator, a 'mini business district under one roof'. There are cellular offices, meeting rooms, touchdown benches and private areas, plus conference space for up to 100, but openness and integration is the overriding concept. The aim is to promote the cross-fertilisation of ideas and networking vital to start-ups and mobile workers.

Design and attention to detail is part of the secret. Ferrari-red casual furniture and record covers on the walls create a dynamic character from a limited budget and tight space. eOffice collaborated with IT, furniture and design specialists to create a stimulating and sociable environment which matches its view of the future of office work. The reception area is more like a hotel than an office and the decor incorporates Manchester themes to give a sense of place.

A similar approach is planned for other proposed centres. eOffice currently has only two outlets, in London and Manchester, but points the way to how all office work may evolve. The judges felt the concept will certainly give more established business centre operators something to think about.