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How Monzo Bank is using Placense to find its new London office — a.k.a. why you need to know what your staff wants when choosing a base

At Placense we care about people: how we collectively interact with our surroundings, where we choose to go and how we get there. So when Monzo, the rapidly growing UK-based digital bank, wanted help finding the perfect place for all its new staff, we wanted to help them get that people-centric location intelligence they needed. 

How we helped

Beth Toms, space lead – the one tasked with all things property – at Monzo, posted on LinkedIn asking for someone to carry out a Commute Survey for them. They were growing so quickly they needed to plan out their next steps.

Monzo’s growth took even them by surprise. The digital bank is looking for a 130,000 sq ft office for their next move. They had options with all the hard data – the terms of the lease, the square footage and so on – but something was missing. What’s the best place for their people (delightfully called ‘Monzonauts’)? What would be the best location for the actual people doing the work there?

Beth told me: “It occurred to me that when you have 700 people, you can’t go to them and chat to them all and go, ‘Hey, where do you live? What do you do? How do you come into work? Do you cycle, do you drive? What’s the best route for you?”

That wouldn’t have been time-efficient for them, but that was something we could do with our data quickly and painlessly. How could we say no?

Beth Toms, space lead – the one tasked with all things property – at Monzo, posted on LinkedIn asking for someone to carry out a Commute Survey for them. They were growing so quickly they needed to plan out their next steps.

Monzo’s growth took even them by surprise. The digital bank is looking for a 130,000 sq ft office for their next move. They had options with all the hard data – the terms of the lease, the square footage and so on – but something was missing. What’s the best place for their people (delightfully called ‘Monzonauts’)? What would be the best location for the actual people doing the work there?

Beth told me: “It occurred to me that when you have 700 people, you can’t go to them and chat to them all and go, ‘Hey, where do you live? What do you do? How do you come into work? Do you cycle, do you drive? What’s the best route for you?”

That wouldn’t have been time-efficient for them, but that was something we could do with our data quickly and painlessly. How could we say no?

Monzo sent us the anonymized postcode data and gave us their shortlist of buildings. We were able, within a day, to send them back a summary of all the locations, working out the shortest time to get there by cycling, driving or public transport.

“It was fab. I could turn around to the business and go ‘This is how every building will affect our Monzonauts’ commutes’, and now it’s a real data point we can use to decide what building we go for,” Beth says.

Putting people first

Over the last few years, the property industry has focused much more on the occupiers and delivering what they want. It’s where ideas like “space as a service” come from and why you constantly hear developers talk about seeing occupiers as customers, rather than faceless entities that fill their building for 8 or 9 hours a day. What people want matters.

That’s the same motivation Monzo has. “For us, the most important thing is to make sure we have a property that allows Monzonauts to do the best work of their lives. This starts with their commute.” Beth told me. “It needs to be people first. We aren’t just basing it off a number. It’s like, ‘This human is now going to have to be doing this route.’”

We’re not pretending like this data is the only thing you need to look at. The commercial and financial data points are necessary. But carrying out a Commuter Survey like we did for Monzo gives you a human perspective you would otherwise miss out on.

That’s also why our Commute Survey didn’t just include numbers. In our building summaries, we included suggestions like “If you pick this building, you need to make sure there are showers because the cycle route is awful.” A bit of tongue-in-cheek, but useful, advice that taps into what the people’s experiences will be goes a long way, and Monzo appreciated that approach.

We like to think Placense always delivers the data we’re expected to deliver, and with a human touch, but, as they say, you don’t have to take our word for it.

As Beth concluded, “We had a need. We went to them. We told them what we wanted – exactly what the output’s going to be. And they did it super quick. It was great.”

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