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Alumnus of the month – March 2012

Stephen Tanner
BSc Building Surveying, 1987

Robert Humphreys

LSBU alumni Stephen Tanner and Rob Walters have recently launched their company, ‘OfficePOD’; a self-contained working environment that has been designed and tested for external use. The concept is to lease OfficePODs to the employer, for the PODs to be given to staff to work at home. The Company believes that a corporate real estate strategy that includes a responsible ‘pro-active’ home working solution such as this will reap significant benefits in terms of staff take-up, productivity, staff attraction/retention, cost reduction and overall CO2 emissions.

At the heart of the business is the belief that employers should take responsibility for providing a suitable working environment for their staff, wherever they work, rather than just simply seeing the trend towards flexible working as a means to cutting costs.

The innovative OfficePOD design provides a complete working environment that can be refitted, relocated, stored and redeployed as part of a corporate real estate strategy. OfficePOD have been featured in media globally and was recently shortlisted in ‘Wallpaper’ magazine as ‘Life Enhancer of the Year’.

Stephen and Robert joined the then Building College in 1982 when the campus was located on Wandsworth Road. They both completed the HND Building course before Stephen secured a place on the second year of the BSc Building Surveying course and Robert went on to run his family construction company.

After qualifying as a Chartered Building Surveyor in 1988, Stephen went on to work for large multi-disciplinary property consultants before moving to the ‘client side’ as head of property with an international remit. His responsibilities required him to travel the world to monitor acquisition and fit-out projects and on one occasion had to travel to Europe, India, Singapore and Hong Kong and back in a week.

In parallel, Robert took the reins of a family construction business that was started by his grandfather in 1904. This successful and respected business was founded on attention to detail and an exemplary level of customer service.
Stephen and Robert joined forces in 2008 to work on the OfficePOD concept and, buoyed by the acclaim that was received from a showing of the OfficePOD prototype in the Spring of 2009, work on the production model continued until sales began at the end of 2011.

Since the launch it has been all go with Stephen and Rob developing the POD, introducing the meeting pod and offering a bespoke design to meet the client’s requirements. In the past year they have made sales to both private and commercial clients, one of which being the BBC who required a live radio broadcast facility located in the reception of their new Salford premises.

Stephen and Rob have received a large number of enquiries from around the world, and for a wide variety of uses, from a charity in Kenya to a school in Canada. The OfficePOD offers an innovative solution to people and organisations that need ‘space’.

OfficePOD has gained a lot of attention in media around the world, being shortlisted in Wallpaper magazine as ‘Life Enhancer of the Year’ and ‘The Tree Hugger’ Awards in the US. They have also featured in the Qantas in flight magazine, Real Homes, 1000 Garden Designs book and a Dutch magazine and education publication.

Plans for the Future
Stephen and Rob now plan to increase their presence on the market and grow their organisation. Their next steps are to find partners in key locations, increase production and reduce costs. In order to do so it is important to identify the right manufacturers across the world in order not to jeopardise the quality of the product. They are always experimenting with new designs and hope to launch some more onto the market in the near future.

We wish them all the best and look forward to seeing OfficePOD’s appear in our organisations.

To find out more about OfficePOD visit the website.