WHAT BUDDING YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS SHOULD KNOW AND OTHER GEMS FROM TOG CO-CEO CHARLIE GREEN
Charlie Green is Co-CEO of The Office Group (TOG), which he founded in 2003 with Co-CEO Olly Olsen pursuing a shared vision to challenge the traditional serviced office market with a design led offering that addressed the changes that were emerging in how people were working.
Charlie has been a long-time supporter of our own founder, Jennie and the Abram Wilson Foundation, providing us with TOG membership so that we can help young people discover the greatest version of themselves through music.
Charlie is possibly one of the busiest people we know so we were delighted when he gave us an hour of his time to talk TOG, perfect parties and what’s on his playlist right now…
Charlie: My name’s Charlie Green. I am the co-founder and Co-CEO of The Office Group. The Office Group is a real estate business that provides flexible working environments, coworking, meeting, conferencing, private individual offices. The inspiration was the fact that it just wasn’t done. We didn’t come up with something…a completely new business model. We just took something that worked and we did it differently.
If you looked at every other sector, restaurants, hotels, people’s homes, there was much more design emphasis. And we just thought, actually why don’t you take that approach to where people work. The design approach means that we design every building because every building is different, so the architecture…we’re responding to the architecture of the building, the location, its context, the people who are going to use it. If you don’t then, if you just have a ‘one style fits all’ approach to design then you’re trying to force that round peg into a square hole. So what works in Mayfair isn’t going to work in Shoreditch and the other way around. So you have to…I think it’s really important you adjust the design.
‘Finding your community in London’
Charlie: I think London is tough but if you look for those communities it’s there and that might be the workplace, it might be where you live, you just have to make the effort. And that’s part of the problem. The tech allows you, I think to see it more clearly and access it more readily. It’s a tool that helps facilitate. It shouldn’t be something that replaces that kind of very human need to be around other humans.
You’re starting to see maybe people using the digital platform as more of a tool and that we crave, there’s a very human element to what we do in the workplace and I think that human need is about being around other people and being part of something. We express that through people who work together from different organisations, there’s a social, there’s a work benefit from being in our buildings so that community is very important. So I think London is, it’s such a melting pot. It’s a wonderful city, you just have to work a little bit harder to find it sometimes.
‘Advice to a budding entrepreneur’
Jennie: So what advice would you give a young person who has a great idea but doesn’t know where to go with it?
Charlie: Well…to be an entrepreneur, to start a business takes persistence and belief and sometimes I…you know we do a bit of mentoring Ollie and I, both do a bit of mentoring. And it’s quite interesting when you talk to ambitious young people and you’re trying to understand what their motivation is and sometimes when the motivation is money you kind of, your heart sinks and you just think, you know what, the chances of you achieving that goal and being successful are pretty slim. But if you have a business that you believe in then put everything into it. It doesn’t come easy so don’t be motivated by money and if you really, really believe in it be prepared that you’re going to have to work hard to achieve success with that business. And enjoy it, I mean you have to love what you do. And it’s not always going to be fun and it’s not always going to be easy but you have to enjoy it because you want to wake up and you want to look forward to what you’re doing.
‘Perfect Party Guests’
Jennie: So some of your spaces are available for events can you tell us where you’d host the perfect party and who you’d invite?
Charlie: That’s a good question! You know when people say that’s a good question what they mean is that’s a really difficult question. We’ve just opened a bar, that’s in Vauxhall, which is really an improving area in terms of everything around it, food and where people work. But it’s got this incredible roof garden that overlooks…and it’s right on the river and it overlooks London two ways…two ways, every way! You can see both ways down the river and it’s going to be stunning in the summer so I would definitely, definitely have a party on that roof. Who would I have invite? Is that the other part of the question?
Jennie: Yeah, who would you invite to the rooftop summer party?
Charlie: Well, you know, without wanting to be too clichéd about it, obviously everybody who works at TOG because they’re amazing people so I’d want them there. We’re about 300 odd people now but it still feels like a family. But actually that building is owned by the Prince of Wales, the Duchy of Cornwall. So I think I’d probably go down a generation, I’d probably invite William and Harry, see if they’d come, that’d be quite fun. That’s a tough question that!
Jennie: Alright, so William and Harry plus 300 TOG employees.
Jennie: And that’s it? (Laughs)
Charlie: 300 TOG people, yeah (smiles).
Jennie: I love it, I love it!
Jennie: But who’s on your playlist right now?
Charlie: So if you’d look at my phone?
Jennie: Yeah, what are the like, fat tunes you’re listening to at the moment?
Charlie: The fat tunes? Alright. So there are probably three things that I’ve listened to over the last few days. Sometimes I like to go back a bit and I’m really into Prince at the moment and I’m sort of immersing myself back…
Jennie (whisper): Great choice!
Charlie: …in some classic Prince albums which is brilliant, it’s just brilliant. I’m also listening… er something more current…Dornik. Do you know Dornik?
Jennie: No, tell us about Dornik
Charlie: Dornik’s cool, it’s lovely. It’s sort of light funky, kind of, you know, probably that’s a terrible description of what it is, um…but Dornik is great and then cos I’ve got a nine year old and a five year old I’m pretty well versed in the soundtrack of Moana.
Jennie: So Charlie, what would you be doing if you weren’t the co-founder and co-CEO of The Office Group?
Charlie: So, I definitely have frustrations, so I’m a frustrated architect and other stuff. But at The Office Group we have a fight night that we do with a gym club called Manor. And Manor put on three times a year put on a fight night. And Manor are in our buildings and basically their clients and all our clients come together and fight each other and I have had, since we’ve doing it and I think we’ve put on four different fight nights and every fight night I’ve worked in the corner of some of the fighters which is a lot of fun, a lot of fun. So, maybe if I wasn’t doing this, maybe I’d be a boxing coach at a ver…amateur…low level.
Jennie (laughs):Or maybe you’d be in AJ’s corner?
Charlie: Definitely, definitely I think I could bring something to the table for AJ (laughs)…not at all, but…
Jennie (laughs): In your like fantasy other job though?
Charlie: In my fantasy other job?
Jennie: It’d be AJ wouldn’t it?
Charlie: Yeah, it would be AJ. Yeah! Cos he’s an amazing, inspirational, brilliant role model and…a beast, he’s a beast!
Jennie: He’s wicked. I love him.
To find out more about coworking at The Office Group head to their website HERE: www.theofficegroup.co.uk
And if you’d like to get involved and support the Abram Wilson Foundation then please consider becoming a regular donor aka an AWF Trailblazer HERE. abramwilson.com/abram-wilson-foundation-trailblazer/