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We’re delighted that engineering consultancy Qoda chose to set up its new Bristol office at Origin Workspace. We sat down with Oliver Fuller to find out how he’s been growing the new South West team and settling into his new working home.

What does your day-to-day role involve at Qoda?

I worked in Qoda’s Oxford office for about six years and then it was decided that the company would set up a Bristol office. I went to UWE and lived here for 15 years – I know Bristol so well and my networks are here, so I was more than happy to take on the role of Business Lead and set up the office here.

I started off as a sustainability engineer, looking at building performance, climate change and making sure we are hitting certain targets and requirements. Now my role is more about leading projects, looking after the team and making sure they are all supported.

What’s the best thing about working in Bristol?

It’s nice to be back in the centre of Bristol. I always remember living off Whiteladies Road as a student and having everything on your doorstep – you can pop out and have a nice lunch and everything is easy!

At Origin Workspace there are things they can get involved with – there are so many events laid on and things like breakfast clubs. I encourage our staff to go down and speak to people and get used to talking and improve their soft skills.

As a business, the big draw for us is that many of the clients and architects we deal with are all in a similar area. So we can walk to their offices or ring them up and see if they fancy a coffee to discuss something. It’s really nice to have that proximity to people – it just makes life a lot easier.

Why did Qoda chose co-working over leasing its own offices?

We were looking at the types of spaces available and I saw a few places with a little office in the back of a building, but you’re pretty much on your own with no office facilities. I felt that if we were starting from nothing then I wanted some kind of social aspect around us to be able to meet people and network naturally.

I also don’t have to worry about the social aspect of my staff. I know that if we have young graduates starting, I don’t have to worry about what they are doing outside work and if they are going to meet people and network.

At Origin Workspace there are things they can get involved with – there are so many events laid on and things like breakfast clubs. I encourage our staff to go down and speak to people and get used to talking and improve their soft skills.

We’re very much a client-focussed and service-led company so it’s all about how you get on with your clients. In engineering you often find that people are very technical and less keen on developing these social skills so it’s good to get used to introducing yourself, talking to people and getting into interacting.

Why did you choose Origin Workspace?

When I first looked at moving the office to Bristol I considered where to set up. A lot of people in our industry are either on the outskirts of town at Aztec West or in the city centre. I always wanted to be in the city centre to be able to walk to places.

In this area of work, we come across coworking projects a lot. I was at a networking event and speaking with the architects of this building who recommended Origin Workspace, saying that it was a great building in a good location.

We were really impressed with how the building has been finished, and that it really looks like the CGI videos we were shown before the offices were finished. You feel like you’re working for a big company, because you have the facilities like the gym and different meeting areas, but at the same time you don’t need to be a big business to work here – it’s suitable for smaller companies starting up.

For me it’s also been amazing for recruitment – you show people around the building and can say ‘this is included as part of the package’ which has definitely been a draw to attract the best talent.

How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?

Keeping a work/life balance has been interesting lately – having to relocate, set up a new office and settle my two young children into new schools! My wife works as well, so trying to manage who is picking them up and dropping them off can be hectic.

I’ve always liked sport, so whenever I can I’ll try and get out. I play hockey on Saturdays and try and go to training once a week – family and work life can be full-on at times so it’s good to get out and do something different.

How important is Origin Workspace’s ‘wellness’ ethos?

In our industry it’s a bit topic that we talk about with a lot of our clients at all levels, so we’re fully aware of the issues.

With everyone’s busy lifestyles it’s nice when you’ve got a gym on your doorstep and the classes are laid on. It can be hard to fit in exercise in the morning or evening when you have kids, so if you can work it into your working day you are much more likely to actually do it.

What’s next for the company?

The next thing for us is moving to the larger office when the second phase of Origin Workspace is complete and also building up our reputation in the South West. We’re relatively new to this market – people know our name, but they don’t necessarily know it in this region.

Now, I need to get the Qoda brand out there so we’re sponsoring the next First Thursday Club networking event, which most of the construction industry goes to. We’ll be doing a presentation to show off our projects and capabilities.

If you’re interested in exploring the workspace options available at Origin Workspace, get in touch or book a showround today.

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