Interview with Leanne Cross

Our newest client Acumen Fieldwork has set up roots in our Flagship Manchester offices and we couldn’t be more excited to watch as the team grows into their new space. 

After their lease came to an end during the lockdown and the Acumen team was ready to return to an office environment, they used this opportunity to look for somewhere more sociable, with one of their wish list items being that all staff could work on the same floor. Despite adopting Slack as a communication tool during the lockdown, it didn’t create the same culture as working together in an office. Roll on to September 2021 when Acumen took new residency in the centrally located Flagship Manchester in the Northern Quarter. Staff morale improved immediately, with the company adopting a hybrid working model with teams gathering 3 days a week. Acumen still hold access to one of their previous offices, based in Stockport where they’re using this space as research studios with unique features such as 1-way mirrored rooms for focus groups, user testing and 1:1 interviews.

Leanne, whose role has evolved post-pandemic, has taken a lead in helping build the culture for the team, coordinating with Flagship’s Property Manager, Tom, daily and responsible for organising the team’s Christmas party – the social highlight of the year! This year the team will be looking to make up for last year’s lack of in-person events with a party at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground. She has worked for Acumen for over 12 years in several different roles, now managing the admin team, office projects and staff wellbeing.

Tell me about Acumen?

Acumen is a Manchester-based market research business that focuses on qualitative, quantitive and healthcare fieldwork solutions. We also look after fieldwork research, recruit market research professionals, and the unique research options we offer, such as using a 2-way mirror for research, running focus groups, user testing, and 1:1 sessions.

What was it like working during the pandemic?

It was hard, especially being at home all of the time. Acumen was very social before the pandemic often having after-work drinks near our office, getting together within our teams and eating lunch together during the day.

Although we began using Slack chat, creating sub-groups for all our teams along with social groups, we found it hard to get staff to engage after a little while.

What made you pick Flagship for your office?

Our MD fell in love with the space instantly, we like the flexibility of Flagship and all our staff could sit on the same floor. We love having the meeting room which has enabled us to step in to discuss ideas as a group, which we keep empty and use a booking system to schedule. There’s also plenty of spaces for informal huddles using the sofas, the booths and the long table. We also really liked the phone boots for individual calls or video conferencing to take place without disturbing others or having an element of privacy at the office. 

The Northern Quarter also offered us plenty of bars and restaurants to check out after work and re-start socialising with the team. It’s really easy to get to for our staff, with lots of transport links and many find it a smoother commute than before. Our staff also utilise the locker space for keeping belongings. They’re great for storing a gym kit to get in a class or run at lunchtime.

What led to moving offices, what was your previous setup? 

Like many, our lease ended during the pandemic, while we were working from home. It was the perfect opportunity to get the senior team together with feedback from staff and find an office that supported our culture, enabling us to embrace hybrid working and enjoy the amenities of a modern office. 

Our previous offices were in Manchester and Stockport and we had staff separated across the building or between different offices, and we couldn’t eat together easily, which is something we really like now in Flagship.

How was settling into Flagship?

It was really smooth, our team helped each other along with Tom, Flagship’s Property Manager, plugging lots of cables in and getting everyone connected to the internet. It was a bit of a manic first day with everyone bringing in all their equipment and picking their desks. We put each team together and rotate who is in within the teams, to ensure everyone gets lots of opportunities to work together and collaborate. Once we were set up, we couldn’t believe how quickly we felt at home in our new space. Tom was on hand to answer questions and could always recommend great places to go in the city. As part of signing up for Flagship, we also added one social event a month at our office, a great option for those who can’t come out with us or have other commitments at home.

Tell me more about the events you have at Acumen, I heard you had your first event at Flagship last week a pizza and prosecco party. 

Yes, we had it on Friday. It was wonderful! Flagship ran for us our first monthly event to catch up and relax in our new office. It was a lovely way to celebrate our first full month here and enjoy a low-key event together. The office was very busy with the pizza and prosecco!

How did you hear about Flagship? 

We started to look at new spaces and with help from a broker who found flagship and told us about it. It was an easy decision, the price point was great, we loved the environment and found Tom very warm and friendly. We knew our staff would want to work here as much as we did.

What are your plans with the space? 

Aside from looking forward to our monthly events, we also have teams come in on the same day. We find this really effective for productivity and helping everyone get to know each other. Acumen has recruited lots of new members during the pandemic as our work kept us busy. It was really important that they had a chance to settle in now we’re back together as it can be hard joining remotely. Our new office has played a pivotal role in helping everyone come together.

What does 2022 look like for Acumen Fieldwork?

We will continue to offer all our Acumen fieldwork, recruitment and research. We will be doing more online work which we added during Covid-19. We’re also getting requests for covid research, the trends it has brought about and lots of projects comparing before and after the pandemic and the larger impact it had. I can’t see those briefs decreasing for a while.

How will you be celebrating Christmas with the Acumen team?

We always go all out for Christmas and talk about the event until June. This year we will be celebrating on the 10th of December, heading to Old Trafford cricket grounds, which is a beautiful venue for dinner, drinks, a disco and lots of dancing. We always have a big dance-off at Acumen producing either great moves or plenty of laughter.

Tom and the Flagship team are thrilled to have Acumen as our newest office tenants and are looking forward to the future of the business’s success in the Northern Quarter.