How the years tick by! It feels as if I’ve only just written the introduction to the 26 year book and now here’s number 27. That makes us one of the oldest companies in office design and build, but we undoubtedly are the most exciting to work for and with. Despite a crowded market, Modus continues to be the benchmark for excellence in the design and build of workplaces.
Modus really started as a workplace consultancy, although we didn’t use that term then. The business flickered into life during a chat over a pint of beer in Wandsworth and from our first office in my dining room we chose a name and wrote a business plan. Within four months, now operating from a dingy attic in Kingston, we hired our first designer and Modus as it is today, was born. Twenty-seven years later we have more than forty amazing people in our design team and we’re widely recognised as the leading creative company in the industry. Those designers are supported by engineers, project managers and many others who turn their 3D renders into reality.
We’ve seen many trends over the years. When we started, computer networks were in their infancy, few people had heard of the internet, mobile phones were huge and not very mobile, desks were “L” shaped to house the cathode ray tube computer monitor, there were secretarial typing pools, miles of filing cabinets and most managers had their own private offices. Now we’re all agile, well, eco, activated, connected…
These are interesting times: the entire structure of the market is changing. In 2018, as the roll-out of flexible-lease space continued unabated, we did almost as much business with co-working operators as with tenants. Is this sustainable? Will traditional landlords all feel compelled to create their own offerings? Will some co-work operators get into difficulties if the economy downturns? Will over-supply turn into a race to the bottom?
Our guess is that quality will out. Operators who have good locations, thoughtful fit-outs and great customer service will do well, even in headwinds. Those who are the most faddish or compete largely on price will attract the most unreliable revenues and be the most vulnerable at low points in the cycle.
But not every company wants to be in a co-working centre. Where our clients take their own space we’re seeing them focusing on the experience of their workers more than ever before. They know that the investment they make in their offices can make the difference between good and great performance in the future, so getting it right is vital. Workplace design is now as much about management consultancy as it is creativity.
The buzzword for everyone – whether in a coworking centre or their own tenancy – is “agility”. This has come to stand for everything that a modern office should offer. Now technology has made us truly mobile we should expect the workplace to provide a specific “somewhere” for anything we need to do. But for me the interesting thing – after years of hearing about the rise of nomadic workers and working from home – is that this mobility has not heralded the death of the office: people actually want to come to a place of work and employers encourage them to do so. Virtual organisations are not as effective as physical ones; we thrive when surrounded by others.
Businesses are also increasingly recognising that brand, culture and competitive edge are inextricably entwined in the places they provide for their people to work and their clients to visit. Modus has helped to shape many of these ideas and we look forward to continuing to do so for years to come.
This book contains pictures of some of the most exciting projects that we’ve built over the last couple of years. A fantastic demonstration of creativity, quality and detail, a rare combination. It is this integrity of approach that has attracted the very best. You are always surrounded by incredibly talented and motivated people doing something that gives them great satisfaction, making Modus an incredibly stimulating place to work. We have a saying: “come to Modus to do your best work”. We mean it.
Here’s to the next twenty-seven years.
Toby Benzecry, Founder