May 22 2013 Latest news:
Liftshare.com's new offices in Duke Street, Norwich. Behind the drab exterior of the building lies a funky and stimulating workspace, the centre piece being a playful slide between floors. Founder Ali Clabburn using the slide. Photo: Steve Adams
Shaun Lowthorpe, Business editor
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Mention that a business is on the slide and it can have a negative connotation in the minds of most.
But for Ali Clabburn, founder of Liftshare, it is all part of a new move – aimed at making working life fun.
Liftshare, an EDP Future 50 business, has moved from its previous base in Attleborough to new larger offices at the old Eastern Electricity building in Duke Street in Norwich.
And key to the new accommodation is the stainless steel slide which enables staff to take a quicker route from the first to ground floor.
The slide is all part of a £250,000 renovation of the building which also includes break-out areas, and a funky first floor featuring a mix of photographic wallpapers, floor finishes, fabrics and finishes as well as benching with oversized lamps.
The building, which was originally designed in 1912 by influential architect Edward Boardman, has also been given a green makeover to make it more energy efficient, including wall insulation, secondary glazing, and a new air pump heating and cooling system.
Liftshare is a social enterprise which runs the UK’s largest car-sharing network, liftshare.com, with 540,000 people using its services as well as major firms and organisations across the country including Norfolk County Council, Aviva, the BBC, and Tesco.
Mr Clabburn admitted he had been inspired by firms such as Google when thinking about the design of the new offices, which brings back to life a building which has been derelict for the last 15 years.
“Liftshare is growing fast, and the new staff we needed meant the office was bursting at the seams,” he said. “This gave us the prompt to review where we are actually based.
“We’ve been in Attleborough since I founded Liftshare from my sister’s old bedroom back in 1998, but Norwich has become a very exciting and innovative city over recent years, and we wanted to be closer to that, and also to reduce the distance most of our staff need to travel in every day.
“This is my favourite area of Norwich, it’s buzzy and got NUCA and amazing technology companies nearby.”
He added: “I’ve been to Silicon Valley and seen these amazing offices and how open they all were. Various people, myself included, had reservations about an open plan office, but looking at Google they have lots of break-out spaces.
“We used to have one meeting room, now we have seven that are used nearly all the time.
“We are communicating much more and it’s changed the way that we work –‑ it’s so positive, it’s amazing.”
And he said the slide was proving popular with staff and visitors alike.
“It’s probably used every five minutes. Every visitor who comes here goes down it, and they leave with a big smile on their faces. It’s just great.”
The venture, which now employs 24 staff, is predicting 20pc growth this year, and the new offices have the capacity to accommodate a further 16 staff.
But is he worried about the ‘health and safety’ aspect?
“There is a small disclaimer at the top of the slide, but life is too short!”
Norfolk turkey giant Bernard Matthews is in talks to sell a stake in the business.