Q&A with Head of Strategy, Peter Ames


Our first Q&A comes courtesy of Peter Ames, Head of Strategy at OfficeGenie.co.uk. He joined Genie in 2012 as the site's Web Editor and was made Head of Strategy in 2014, where he manages the website and its marketing channels.

Our team at Woodhouse often enjoy networking with others within the property industry. We most recently ventured to Cannes in France for the MIPIM event in March, where we gained some invaluable insights and learnings from various commercial property experts.

From networking and listening to others within our sector and with the added intrigue and knowledge that results, we are taking a fresh approach ourselves by gathering insights from our industry peers across the commercial property sector. We hope to increase awareness of the many services and products that help to indirectly or directly support our organisation, and which serve to inform the many businesses across the country looking to reinvent, relocate or setup their workspace.

Woodhouse owes much to “commercial property search” companies generating awareness to established businesses and startups of available office spaces across London and the surrounding areas. To help support businesses seeking new office space, we decided to discover more about one such firm (Office Genie) supporting businesses in their endeavors to relocate. 

Hi Peter, please describe your role and your typical activities

My role is a hugely varied one and covers a wide range of things; everything from working on strategy with the company’s MD, to number-crunching. It’s a lot of fun.

Please introduce us to Office Genie. How long has the company been established and how does your business model work to attain properties on your site and earn money?

We were established in 2009, we had a few spare desks in our office and had no means of renting them out. So Office Genie (then Desk Space Genie) was born to meet our own need, and it really caught on, particularly in areas such as Soho where there were a lot of freelancers, startups and other businesses looking for cost-effective flexible space. We were the first hub for the office sharing phenomenon and I still think we do it better than anyone.

In 2010 we rebranded as Office Genie and added serviced and traditional leased office space to our inventory. We operate a listings model for most space, often charging on a success basis. However, free-to-advertise shared space still remains at the heart of what we do, and we’re still very happy to be sharing our own office.

How many locations does Office Genie cover, and which area/region tends to receive the most interest?

We’re UK-based and we try to cover everywhere with suitable, available desk or office space. London is obviously the most buoyant market and where we tend to focus a lot of our efforts, but we’re also noticing demand in other regions ramping up rapidly. We’re very proud to be a Cambridge business and try to reflect this; so we’re not all about the capital by any means.

In a nutshell, how does a users’ journey through your website typically work?

Hopefully it’s quite a simple one, find us online, find your office and get in touch either online or over the phone. We don’t like to complicate things.

How do Office Genie succeed in a property search market that is becoming increasingly competitive online?

I genuinely believe Genie are blessed with the most talented marketing people in the country. They’re forever innovating and perfecting what they do – I just try to work with them, encourage them and get the very best out of them. We try to stay ahead of the game, and if we do ever see anyone doing something we’re not, we look at it and try to do it better.

What are the key benefits of businesses searching for commercial office space through Office Genie and what sets your business apart?

I think it’s the wide range of office space we offer that sets us apart. I’d hope that everything from a two-man startup in Soho to a forty-person, established business in Hinckley would be able to find something. But I also think, as Genie is a relative small (35 people and counting) business, who’ve had around three office moves in the last four years, we understand what it actually is to search for an office space.

What is the best aspect for you about working at Office Genie?

The people I get to work with and the sheer variety of things I get to do. No two days are the same. But it really is about the people, as well as the level of talent, I laugh every single day I’m in the office and I don’t think there’s a better reason to go to work than that.

What are the next steps for Office Genie and how do you see the firm developing further going forward?

It’s a competitive market, but it’s also one that naturally seems to be getting better, so that’s always handy. Generally, we need to ensure we’re developing alongside the office space world and reflecting changes in the sector:  As commercial property continues to become increasingly flexible, we will too. A lot of recent work has gone into establishing just exactly who our customers are and how we speak to them.

Thank you for your time Peter!

If you are looking for office space in London, take a look here.

You can follow Office Genie’s everyday activities via their Twitter feed.