How long have you been working at Flexiform?
Almost 31 years, basically all my adult life. I’d previously worked for 12 months at Nationwide Building Society in Manchester City Centre following graduation and heard about this vacancy through a long-standing family friend, who had a connection to the Manager of the Survey Team. She often reminds me of the introduction!
What made you originally come to Flexiform?
Funnily enough, I joined Flexiform to replace Nick Hewitt’s sister. She’d been working as a Survey Analyst covering the north of England and as the Company was growing rapidly, it was decided to recruit 2 people to cover the North. So I was employed to carry out storage surveys in the North West of England, effectively from Birmingham to Carlisle. Believe it or not, at that time there were more than enough storage enquiries and installations in that corner of the country to keep me very busy each week. In fact, I remember one week when I carried out 9 storage surveys and of course it had to be in December! At the time when Fleximetric Storage units were literally flying out of the Factory, the Survey Department was a team of 9 and now here I am, left to tell the tale.
Have you seen many changes in the office landscape?
Of course. 30 years ago we were still seeing plenty of cellular offices, including Typing Pools. The increased use of desktop PCs with very large monitors led to the addition of desk returns and then the one piece curved workstation, before the introduction of bench desks. So in terms of desk size and shape, it has almost gone full circle, although the office environment has changed considerably through the introduction of hot desking, agile working and collaborative areas.
How about the business of Flexiform itself?
When I joined Flexiform we were very storage led, with many of our clients being in the Financial Sector. Banks, Building Societies and Insurance Companies were storing plenty of Customer files and records at that time, primarily as hard copies, within their office environments. Whereas now it is great that we manufacture and supply furniture across the whole office environment. It’s also fantastic that we can offer the services of Storage Audits, Space Planning and Interior Design whilst being supported by our in-house manufacturing Engineers – that should make for the perfect combination.
The Flexiform storage survey service is unique to Flexiform, what exactly is it?
Historically the purpose of a survey is to accurately calculate the number of storage units required and to recommend the most suitable and efficient component for each filing and storage requirement, with regard to client usage and objectives. Individual CAD storage layouts, quotations and, where necessary, a report outlining reasons for proposals and making any appropriate recommendations are submitted.
A survey is always at the request of a client and a mutually convenient date and time are arranged. The Analyst is working to the client’s brief and requirements and consideration, therefore, needs to be given to a number of factors prior to the audit taking place. These include client’s main objective, cost and budget constraints, premises constraints and floor plan layouts, the department concerned, confidentiality and accessibility of files and proposed expansion.
However, the Flexiform storage survey service essentially provides advice, knowledge and expertise to ensure effective storage solutions are provided for all style of office environments.
What relevance do you think storage has in the modern office? – did the paperless office ever arrive?
About 25 years ago I think we all thought the paperless office would be upon us very quickly, but it has actually dragged its heels. However, I do think we are almost at that point now. There are now far more reasons not to retain paper copies than there are to keep them. Also, I can’t see the next or future generation entering the workplace wanting to use and retain paper copies, as they’re not currently being educated in that way. But all that being said there is still a place for storage units within the office. Agile working always requires the use of space effective personal storage, whilst storing what few files remain in the office efficiently and securely has perhaps never been more important.
What’s on the drawing board today?
Well, it’s been a very busy week. Checking through specifications on an ongoing long-term project, storage unit layouts and quotes for a couple of clients in the Medical sector and floor plans for a Construction Company with existing Flexiform furniture moving into larger offices.