Home business, hub based, coffee store workers are all viable models for the modern entrepreneur and start-up team but who ever thought of working in the basement of a mobile phone service provider’s basement. O2 have clearly got the formula right with the launch of the O2 workshop in London (launched in 2011) and sees some regular traffic from small business in the area looking to drop-in to connect to their virtual offices, make a few business calls and perhaps even host a small seminar. The space has been incredibly well designed and feels very much like the Apple store meets hub-working concept that many small business workers find appealing. With gleaming white desktops and an O2 Guru close at hand the site is not just well design but well staffed and supported.
The idea of a brand launching a work hub is an incredibly effective way to continue to build relationships with its small business segment, an important segment judging by the ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) yardstick. I have first hand seen some customers go up stairs and ask to buy some of the data products such as internet pay-as-you-go dongles. The quiet building of good will seems to be working for the brand and the facility is genuinely delivering on a real need for professional office space where a small business or start-up can host meetings and run an effective seminar or simply touch down for some digital therapy (photo below taken from O2 News Centre).
Insight: With the recent launch of the government announcement around the use of idle government space to host entrepreneurs and small business (hosted by StartUp Britain – http://www.startupbritain.org) one can’t help but think if O2 could actually step in and play a role in setting up quality space and provide a broader range of data services.
Insight: The branded experience delivered across most touchpoints across the workspace is a testament to a well thought out B2B and B2C strategy. There may be opportunities for other brands with synergistic goals to create co-branded work hubs to engage the SME community and utilise shared marketing pools/funds to deliver on a more comprehensive offer.
Insight: O2 needs to be able to take the Workshop community virtual. These kinds of models and the need to register while using the facility provides a great opportunity to take a community virtual and build on the positive social ripples from the growing ‘promoter’ base.