Curb Your Enthusiasm - Cut Off

When is the work ‘cut-off’?

Last week, news broke that French legislators have passed a law which gives employees the right to ignore work e-mails outside of working hours. I believe that this is great news for two reasons:

1. E-mail is outdated and inefficient anyway.

2. It is important that people are given the chance to switch off when they are not at work.

 

The New Law

Article 25 of the El Khomri Bill allows employees of organisations with over 50 staff members to avoid reading, responding to or acting upon digital communication which is received outside of business hours. This includes e-mails, messaging applications and collaborative platforms. The law has been introduced in an attempt to combat the effects of work-based stress and to curb the effects of being ‘switched on’ around the clock.

 

The Problem With E-mail

I don’t like e-mails full stop. In my opinion people use it as a way to delay decisions and push accountability on others. It also means endless ‘reply all’ chains, mysteries surrounding information they never received, the issues of attachments and the awkwardness of getting the balance between sounding friendly and professional just right.

In more recent times, the rise in mobile devices and the ability to be contacted anywhere, anytime, work-based e-mails have leaked past the end of the working day and have become a round-the-clock venture. It begins with ‘just checking’ on a project from earlier today, spreads into tying up loose ends at the weekend and eventually answering Wendy’s questions about how to get the printer to work whilst lying on a beach in Spain. Further to this, by escaping the time-constraints of business hours, e-mails have become the scape-goat for avoiding accountability – ‘lost’ e-mails are held responsible for missed deadlines and poor Paul from accounting is so lost in a team-wide thread of information that he really doesn’t know what his boss is expecting him to do this week.

 

The Digital Age & New Apps

The evolution of digital has opened up a wealth of communication methods which have infused the professional world with useful benefits, such as unlimited organisation apps and ways to collaborate on projects. With all of the messaging and collaboration channels available, E-mail is definitely becoming outdated and the benefits of more modern applications and software are being noticed by industry experts, who are using e-mail as their primary communication channel less and less.  For example, Trello and Slack are two of the most popular collaborative, team-based applications available. With 3 million monthly users, Trello offers a workspace designed to encourage productivity and collaboration, whilst Slack, with 1.7 million monthly users, combines all of the useful parts of instant messaging to enable smooth communication between team members. With innovation and productivity channels becoming more and more readily available, it is not hard to see how e-mail is falling behind and becoming less favourable in the eyes of professionals.

 

The Importance of Switching Off

With so many applications, software suites and communication channels available at the fingertips of employees, it is easy to imagine how projects and discussion can spread into everyday life – outside of working hours. Many professionals use the same devices at home as they do at work, meaning that the communication apps they are using to discuss projects are still open in an evening and during the weekends. This makes it harder for employees to switch off and disconnect from their responsibilities, which can lead to stress, work overload and ‘burnout’; a physical, mental and emotional inability to continue working in a productive manner due to overwhelming stress from the workplace environment.  The ability to switch-off and take time away from work is lauded by industry specialists – and it’s not hard to imagine why – with a French study showing that 1 in 5 Executives are at risk of ‘burning out’.

 

Resetting the Boundaries

In the midst of the digital age, where information is accessible at all hours, in all places, it is time to begin resetting the boundaries which have been broken by new technologies. Businesses have been taking advantages of the unrestricted access to communication channels – but the adverse effects that this is having on employees should be more than enough reason to re-establish the ground rules of courtesy and personal time. It is important that employees are able to take time away from the responsibilities of their job and spend it however they like. The ability to spend time being creative and unwinding leads to more productive employees and a more focused attitude during work hours, compared to individuals who never truly relax due to committing so much of their personal time to work-related activities.

Throughout all of the discussion surrounding digital means of communication, the good old telephone has been largely ignored – in its original form, anyway – but it could provide the answer to the ‘cut off point’ issue. Since the invention of the phone, an unwritten, unspoken rule has developed surrounding the acceptable times to call. For managers and employees, calling outside of working hours is usually reserved for emergency situations; whilst friends and family tend to keep each other’s schedules and habits in mind when deciding when it is okay to call.

Here is a great clip from one my favourite TV shows: Curb Your Enthusiasm that I feel sums up the concept of a ‘cut-off’.

Given that technology-based communication, such as e-mails can be used negatively as an excuse for poor work performance, a lack of productivity and unimpressive work-ethics, it is to be hoped that, by restricting the times during which these methods can be used, the ways in which they are used may also be affected. By concentrating the permitted usage, hopefully the work produced and productivity levels will also be condensed. In short – if employees are using their professional communication correctly during working hours, they have every right to ignore them outside of those hours. I firmly believe that the out-of-hours ban on work communication should be implemented everywhere – morally, if not legally.

Leicester City EPL Champions 2016

Team Building For Success

I am not the biggest football fan in the world, but it’s been hard to escape the news that Leicester City have just won the Premiership title. Their success got me thinking: How did it happen? Leicester City are a comparatively small club, with many larger and much better funded rivals. One website calculated that Manchester United spent more on new players in the last two years, than Leicester City have throughout their entire 132 year history. This is a triumph that to many observers seemed utterly impossible, so what made the difference?

The credit for their unlikely victory must be largely given to Claudio Ranieri, and his transparent management style. He spent as much time working on mental preparation as on physical skills. He helped the players to focus on one game at a time. He concentrated on building teamwork, and ensuring everyone understood the part they must play for the team to succeed. The strategy he adopted can be just as successfully applied to business start-ups as to football teams.

When well funded businesses define their employment strategy its often a matter of hiring the best people and assuming they will do a great job for the company. However, if you work out the performance vs the cost of the salaries it is frequently the case that the revenue per employee is actually less.

Consider Chelsea for instance, How much have they spent on employees this year? How many points have they ended up with in the league? Compare these figures to Leicester City and you will see my point. This is the same in business. In the past, I have made the mistake of hiring people who on paper should be the top striker for my team. I looked at things like:

  • they had worked for a competitor
  • they had industry experience
  • they had great contacts

Despite these apparent advantages these employees often ended up performing very badly. In fact one person I hired didn’t make the company a single dime in revenue. Compare this to our top performing sales person, who had no history in Sales but had a work ethic beyond most people’s comprehension. Having people with the right skills in your company is important, but taking those individuals, and turning them into a team is what can make the difference between success and failure.

I believe that there are three key components to building and motivating teams that can take on and beat the best:

 

1. Transparency

Having the right people and a positive approach to your business is great, but how can employees really be part of ‘your team’ if they are not able to see all the detail? Being totally transparent with employees on issues such as revenue numbers and business costs helps the employees to understand your point of view, and to start thinking in the same way you do.

I want my employees to understand the direction of my business and how their day-to-day work helps us achieve our goals. At the same time I want people to speak freely. A transparent business model means all employees are given meaningful insights into the way the business operates. They should able to understand the business priorities, and the progress the business is making against defined metrics. Everyone should be kept up-to-date with a real-time view into  all business activities throughout the week. By members of the management team sharing information with the rest of the company in such an open way, individuals will be encouraged to do the same.

 

2. Defining Success

One of the biggest problems with corporate culture can be employees becoming disengaged with company goals. How can someone know they are winning if they don’t know what winning is? Defining success is critical to achieving it. By outlining exactly success looks like, it becomes far more likely that success will be achieved. Every employee needs to know specifically how their routine tasks help the company to achieve its stated goal.

There must be clear criteria for measuring the success of each team member’s contribution to the company goals, and procedures put in place to measure whether those goals are being reached. The individual goals must be realistically attainable. No employee is going to invest in a goal that they know they will be unable to reach. Managers must have an appreciation for the day-to-day realities of their team members tasks.

 

3. Sharing credit for both failure and success

When your team is successful it is easy bathe in the glory of achievement. Even if you had only a small part to play in the achievement it’s still great to be associated with it. It isn’t quite so easy when the team fails. Everyone fails sometimes, it’s is a natural part of business life, and this can be especially true in sales. Encouraging people to admit when they have failed means they can assume total accountability, this makes winning even more of a big deal when success is achieved.

If you don’t risk failure, then you will not achieve anything. When failure comes, the important thing is not to think that an individual team member failed, but to decide how you respond to that failure. Failure should encourage the whole team not to apportion blame, but to review what happened, and why it happened, so that their methods can be refined and improved, and the next attempt leads to success.

It is vital that the team are prepared to assume responsibility for both success and failure, everyone must work together. Fear of failure is a major inhibitor to success, team members who are scared of being blamed for letting the team down, will never really take the risks needed to succeed. By working as a team to learn from a failure, achieving success becomes a team effort in which every member has a part.

For Leicester City every team member was vital to their success. They would not have achieved the League title unless they were focused on winning, and working together. For your business each employee is equally vital, and must be engaged in working towards the common goal.

Rockstar UFC employee Conor McGregor

How To Handle Rockstar Employees

Conor McGregor, the mixed martial artist, has almost single-handedly moved the UFC into the mainstream. For three years the young fighter from Dublin has dazzled crowds with his wit, fighting skills and a striking ability to predict what will happen in the octagon. He has been the biggest star of UFC, but in recent months the relationship has not been a harmonious one. McGregor has struggled under the notoriously tight control of the UFC. The latest stand-off between the two saw McGregor refusing to attend a scheduled press conference and promotional event. The UFC responded by removing McGregor from UFC 200, and for a while McGregor claimed to have retired. While McGregor has withdrawn his threatened retirement, the situation appears far from over. What is clear is that this is a case of egos getting bruised. McGregor is the rockstar of the UFC. He is the one crowds pay to see, and he has started to think that he is bigger than the UFC. This rockstar syndrome isn’t unique to sport. It frequently occurs in companies as well. Rockstar employees can bring in bring fantastic results, but if you don’t handle them right. They can be a nightmare to manage.

OK, firstly I know what it is like being on both sides of the table. I have been the rockstar employee giving my company a hard time, and I have managed rockstars who have given me a hard time. The problem with rockstars is they typically work really hard. Rockstar employees like McGregor can be tempted to think “Why am I the only person who works this hard?”. That’s not all, they usually create huge results for the company. In Conor McGregor’s mind he goes above and beyond the call of duty to promote fights. He does talk shows, radio, TV; he creates buzz on social media and his unique character is a huge draw for the fans. So when the pendulum swings the other way he expects more grace than others, and not every company will do that.

When a rockstar is making huge revenue for your business, everyone is happy, but this can quickly go wrong. If a company is too heavily reliant on one person to deliver results, the company is only as strong as that individual. So if the rockstar disengages and leaves the company, it can greatly reduce the value of your business, or even put the whole business at risk.
The company is always bigger than the egos that work there. This includes the board members, and even the CEO. When clients choose to work with a company it’s not just the rockstar they deal with. They interact with many parts of the business that are equally as important as the initial sale. So when McGregor says that he has made $400m for the UFC, he is ignoring the symbiotic relationship they both have. He can’t afford to forget that there had to be a UFC for him to gain the fame that he has.

Rockstar employees like Conor McGregor can be great for your business, but they are not bigger than your business. As a manager you should want every employee to reach the same performance level as the rockstar, but still to act as part of your team. For that to happen you must create an environment where every employee can perform at their best, feels appreciated, and makes a valuable contribution. You must inspire your employees and give them the tools they need to succeed.

 

Rockstars take risks

Part of being a rockstar is a refusal to play it safe. Rockstars have big egos, they like to push the limits of possibility and aren’t afraid to take risks. They don’t follow best practices, they create best practice. All the time they are getting results that’s great, but what happens when a rockstar employee fails? Failure is a normal part of life. Every employee gets it wrong sometimes, but when it’s a rockstar employee that slips up they will probably get it wrong in a big way. As their manager you have got to allow that to happen, and make sure that your company is not so dependent on one individual that their failure brings down the company. No-one likes failure, but if your employees are too afraid to take risks then your company is never going to be at the forefront of innovation.

If you want to manage rockstars then you have to deal with their egos. You must put in the effort to keep them focused and engaged with your business, so you can reap the rewards without letting them lose sight of the bigger picture. Here are three key ways you can keep your rockstar employees engaged, and working for the benefit of the whole company.

1. Continual Learning

No-one likes repeating the same tasks over and over. The ability to grow, learn more, and develop new skills is essential for employee motivation yet sadly many managers miss this point. More than 90% of employees learn more when they discover solutions themselves, but on 25% of executives believe that employees learn independently. Find ways to make sure they are constantly challenged. If your rockstar isn’t being challenged they are likely to disengage and look for the challenges they need elsewhere.

One of the biggest turn-offs for rockstar employees are managers who dictate the answers to problems, rather than helping employees to discover the solution for themselves. Any attempt to micro-manage a rockstar is likely to end in disaster, this is what sparked McGregor’s rebellion against the UFC promotional machine. The entire standoff could have been avoided if Dana White had presented McGregor with a choice, or even just the perception of choice. Pushing a rockstar into a corner so that they feel pressured to act in a certain way rarely goes well.

2. Strong Communication

Take time for one-on-one meetings with your rockstar employees. Provide regular feedback on their activities, and be specific. Rockstar employees need to know what they are doing well, and where their performance could be improved. Provide them with enough information so that their positive performance can be replicated, and the negative aspects of their performance improved. It’s important that they understand how their task fits into the wider company context. They may be a great employee, but they are not the whole company. They are part of a wider team, and for a company to be successful everyone needs to understand their role, and work together to achieve success. None of us know what may have been said in private, but what played out in public clearly demonstrated that McGregor and the UFC don’t view their respective positions the same way. McGregor understands that he is a huge draw on any fight card, but he also needs to recognise that without the UFC he wouldn’t be the huge draw that he is. He is popular because he is a part of the UFC machine, not independently of it.

3. Praise (Publicly)

When your rockstar does good work don’t be afraid to commend them publicly. Many managers make the mistake of assuming that rewards should be primarily financial. No employee is going to reject a financial reward but for most rockstars that’s not the motivation that drives them. They want to achieve. They want to make a difference, and by publicly recognising their efforts you are more likely to retain them in your company. Both Dana White and the UFC have publicly recognised McGregor’s talent and appeal, but he clearly feels this doesn’t goes far enough. He is refusing back down, and continues to test his position. The UFC will need to find a compromise solution if they want to move forward.
Finally, you have to work on your own performance. Leading an organisation with one or more rockstars isn’t easy. If you want an easy life look for a company with mediocre employees that is prepared to tread-water forever. Rockstar employees encourage those around them to constantly improve their own performance level. That includes their managers. Learning to manage rockstars effectively should keep you at the top of your game, and ready for anything.

Bot technology set to revolutionise the way brands interact with their customers

Bot-Commerce: How Bots could change the E-Commerce landscape

Back in 2004, before YouTube existed, I was advocating the use of video content to improve the online customer journey. In 2009, I was telling brands that ‘Where to Buy‘ buttons would be a customer expectation. This happened. So are bots going to have the same ‘Must have‘ status in a few years? It’s starting to look likely.

You have probably come across bots before, even if you haven’t been aware of them. Bots are simply automated scripts that can perform simple, repetitive tasks at a much faster rate than would be humanly possible. The most well-known bots are the ones that spider the web indexing the millions of websites that are listed in Google and the other major search engines. For humans to analyse and file the information from all these websites would be incredibly labour-intensive but a bot can do this quickly and efficiently.

The recent surge of interest in bots has been triggered by the announcement at the Facebook F8 developer conference that tools will be made available for developers to create bots inside Facebook Messenger. The tools announced by Mark Zuckerberg include an API which developers can use to create chatbots for Messenger as well as chat widgets for the web.

Facebook is far from the first company to experiment with bots. Both Telegram and Kik already have bot stores, while Microsoft recently announced a bot platform of their own. The reason that the Facebook announcement has captured peoples imagination is down to the number of users Facebook Messenger has.

Facebook hope that Messenger can be developed as a primary channel for businesses to connect with their customers. They believe that combining AI with human intervention can allow Messenger to almost act as a direct replacement for 1-800 numbers. If bot technology is eventually this widely accepted by the public we could see bots in areas as diverse as customer support, commerce, and media.

At F8 Zuckerberg demonstrated a bot which allowed someone to order flowers using natural conversational language. He also unveiled a bot from CNN that delivered news stories that became more personalised over time. Zuckerberg sees an e-commerce future where brands have their own bots which interact with customers through the Facebook Messenger interface. Is he right?

Many retailers and brands are going to be sceptical. Back in 1996 e-commerce companies were struggling to design a high ranking website to accommodate changes in customer behaviour. In 2006 these same businesses found themselves under pressure to create apps that for smartphones. Now in 2016, the trend is to develop bot technology. Why should they bother? Many retailers went to the expense of creating mobile apps which garnered only a lacklustre response from their customers. I believe that there are solid reasons why traffic from apps has frequently been underwhelming, and why bots offer a better opportunity.

Many of the problems with apps can be traced to their being stand-alone items. Brands must first persuade customers to download them, and then expect the customer to learn an entirely new interface when they want to engage with them. Who wants to struggle with an unfamiliar interface just to register a new product or ask a simple question?

This is where bots really have the edge. Bots run on platforms which customers are already using. Individuals are already familiar with the interfaces for Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, so the learning curve is entirely eliminated and brands can interact with their customers immediately.

If bots are going to be successfully integrated into company marketing then I believe it is essential for brands and retailers to own their own bots. There is no value in creating task specific bots, ie. a bot for support, a bot for content etc. It will be more effective for brands to own their own bots on all platforms, not just Facebook, but every chat platform they operate on. Once businesses have a bot in place they will be able to establish access agreements with other partners to supply the information they need to allow the bot to operate. This might include, content syndication, PIM, offers, and deals.

How does AI play into this? In an ideal world, bots would have awesome intelligence and be able to successfully answer any questions the customer may have. However, in my opinion this possibility is still a while off and this disconnect between customer expectations and reality could lead to customers getting frustrated. Progress is however being made in the right direction. Here in Dubai, simple commands like ‘nearest ATM’ and ‘statement’ are already being used by some forward-thinking banks.

So what is the potential for brands and e-commerce retailers to work together with bots? It is possible that chatbots could become our new ‘best friends‘. Some brands have already begun to embrace bot technology. In the last year more than 80 advertisers worked with Kik to establish chatbots on its network of 275 million users.

This is just the tip of what could be a very large iceberg, the potential scenarios are almost limitless. Just think about these 5 options for a start.

  1. Bots making offers – The customer makes an inquiry about a service and the bot responds by providing the customer with a time sensitive offer. The whole process would be fully trackable, allowing the success of the offer to be analysed, and improved over time.
  2. Bots acting as a ‘knowledgeable friend’ – Online stores are useful but often customers want to know more information than can be conveniently displayed. A bot would be an ideal way for a customer to find out more about the product. They could talk about product specifications, the terms of the warranty etc.
  3. A bot to locate your nearest store – There are some products you want to see before you buy, and others which are just not suitable for delivery. A bot could be used to tell you where your nearest store is, and potentially offer you directions to the store.
  4. A bot to upsell products – When a customer makes a purchase there are often complementary items which customers may like to purchase alongside the product. Having a bot bring these items to the attention of the customer can help customers find products they need, and improve the bottom line of the business.
  5. A bot to follow up with customers –  The greater the understanding a business has of their customers habits and behaviour the more effective a bot can be. Imagine having a bot that was able to reach out to customers and ask: “How are you getting on looking for your new TV? Let me know if I can help”.

Bots are only just starting to make their presence felt. We have yet to see what the future holds, and how the development of AI will lead to a full bot-revolution.

My experience at the Techpreneur Expo

This post is about my experience of the talks I held from a jam-packed two days at the Techpreneur Expo in London at Kensington Olympia. The event was part of the 34th Business Show, which showcases hundreds of business over the two days, some of those are startups, and that’s what really interested me about the event. My ‘start, scale and sell’ masterclass was a sell-out event.

 

Each day I had six one-hour sessions on ranging topics, I began the day at 11 am with a talk on ‘Evaluating your idea’. This session focused on knowing if your idea was a winning idea; I was able to speak about my own experiences in the starting up stage and how I created my own ideas.

 

At 12 pm, I held a session on ‘From start-up to scale-up’. This was when I had a chance to speak about how I achieved making my start-up into a fully-fledged business and more importantly preventing things from breaking.

 

The 1 pm session was on booking meetings, how to get in front of the big companies even if you don’t have the budget to do so. I was in this position myself, not so long ago and I love sharing my experiences on this, so hopefully my knowledge can help others.

 

The next session at 2 pm was on ‘the competition’, I think it’s important that you can speak to your competition but remain credible at the same time. From my experience, I was talking about some of the bigger companies I had personally dealt with, but I am hoping my advice can be taken out of context and be applied to any competition circumstances.

 

The sessions at 3 pm and 4 pm were on selling your company; I mainly spoke about when and why you should sell and then preparing for the process. I only sold my start-up ‘E-Tale’ in 2014, so the process is still very memorable.

 

The day was a huge success, especially seeing as it was my first speaking engagement of this type; I must admit I was a bit nervous at the beginning of the day! I was hoping to get lots of feedback from the event, as I am writing a book and hoping the tips will help me in the process

 

I also got asked a few questions throughout the day; it was great to see lots of people were so interested in the talks and wanted to know more.

 

I would love to hear if you attended the Techpreneur expo or the Business Show, especially if you attended one of my sessions! Leave a comment below, I love to hear feedback!

Winners and Learners

Failure. It’s one thing pretty much everyone is afraid of, right? When I talk to budding entrepreneurs, staff, and even my kids, it definitely ranks as the number one reason they are reluctant to even attempt new challenges. After all, if you are likely to fail, why bother? However, I’m proud to say I’ve mastered the art of failing – after all, in my eyes, failing is learning!

When I had my startup business, ‘E-Tale’, I was always really keen to push my team to fail at things, and for them to be comfortable doing so. This may sound somewhat counter productive, but I hold fast to my opinion that if we always win, then we are not pushing ourselves sufficiently.

Fear of failure in business encourages people to:

  1. Set low standards: Winning too regularly means that we are not setting our sights high enough. Employing punitive measures when employees do not hit goals simply encourages staff to set lower standards that they are confident they will be able to achieve. This ultimately means that while they may be hitting their ‘goals’, they are not reaching their full potential.
  1. Over think small tasks: If you punish people for making minor errors, then don’t be surprised if even the most basic email takes an hour to be drafted. In addition, the overthinking of the ‘Format’ of an email will often mean the intention of the email is lost. Considering the ‘bigger picture’ can help to drive towards the end goals. 
  1. Get ‘Buy In’ as a way to cover their ass!: About two years into E-Tale, I began refusing to check over my staff’s client emails, customer complaints, and even proposals. Why? Well firstly, I had my own emails and proposals to get on with. However, the main reason was to encourage my employees to be wholly accountable for their own efforts. Knowing that this was their gig, and there was no ‘safety net’ made sure that they took appropriate extra care. Conversely, knowing their senior manager would have the final glance would have meant them relying on me to identify and correct any errors. A fresh pair of eyes can be a useful tool, but can quickly become a blame-sharing strategy if the outcome of the email or proposal is less than favorable.

Failure makes you human. Why not also take this honest and frank approach with clients? Persuading them you will never make a mistake is nowhere near as valuable as proving your problem-solving skills, tenacity and ability to deal with business issues as they arise. Genuine connection requires you to be just that – genuine. Nine times out of ten, honesty will win the client over regardless, so giving that human and personable approach may actually help your business.

You also need to remember that ‘failing’ is not the same as ‘failed’. To have failed requires you to have given up. Michael Jordon said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

While this is a little ‘cheesy’ and possibly quite trite, I always tell my kids that there are only winners and learners. So try to focus on what you have learned when you don’t get the result that you were after. This is especially valuable if you fail to land a client contract. Contacting the client and asking to meet in person to ask why you were not successful this time is a great way to get genuine feedback on your approach or product. Just don’t go with the goal of winning the client back. Again, your genuine and focused interest on their constructive criticism will mean you can learn and move forward.

So why don’t you give failing a go once in a while? You never know what success it may bring!

My Top London Meeting Spots!

Have you ever wanted to hold a meeting in London, but didn’t know where? This used to be a constant struggle for me. My meetings are usually very informal; I didn’t ever want to meet prospective clients in office board meeting rooms. I felt it gave off the wrong impression, and first impressions are everything!

I would like to share with you my top London meeting spots, where hopefully you can hold your meetings in future. You never know, we may even bump into each other one day in the same spot!

The Royal Opera House Cafe

You’ll find this super quiet place in the heart of London. If you’re looking for great architecture and of course comfortable seats, this is the place to go! Another bonus is the building itself makes a great conversation starter, just because of how cool it looks, so meeting someone for the first time here would be less nerve-wracking! If you want to find out about all the people who have contributed to the Opera House refurbishment, their names can be seen on the way up the escalator.

Dress code: Smart

Opening hours: Ask on request of which cafe/restaurant (72 hours booking required)

Telephone: 020 7240 1200

Address: Bow St, London WC2E 9DD

Hoxton Hotel

If you’re looking to hold your meeting late afternoon into evening, the Hoxton Hotel is a great location. It has a cool and edgy vibe, where beards, blazers and the odd bow tie can be expected! Not only is the atmosphere fantastic but the drinks menu also goes down a treat, with the list of drinks as long as my arm!

Dress code: Casual (bow ties welcomed!)

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday: 7am – 2am (Restaurant/Bar)

Telephone: +44 (0) 207 550 1000

Address: 81 Great Eastern St, London, EC2A 3HU

City Social

A friend introduced me to City Social earlier this year before then I had never heard of the place! However, I am really glad I have found out about the venue. If you like The Shard, you’ll love City Social. I have been to The Shard, while the views are great, the reality is that the food is average. City Social has a restaurant at the top of the Natwest Tower, the views of the city are incredible, and the food is equally as good! My favourite part of the venue is the men’s urinals; I won’t ruin the surprise, but it is very impressive!

Dress code: Smart

Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 12 pm – late, weekends: 4 pm – late (check the website for further details)

Telephone: 020 7877 7703

Address: 24th Floor, 25 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1HQ

The American Bar – Savoy

If you’re not making a profit, you might want to avoid this place! However, if you’re celebrating, I would definitely recommend this bar! Not only is it a great venue, but on the left-hand side there is a small museum to check out, it would make a great talking point! The museum has artifacts from the hotel, including check-in cards from famous guests like Marilyn Monroe!

Dress code: Smart casual, no sportswear

Opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m. Sundays: 12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Telephone: 020 7836 4343

Address: The Savoy Hotel, 100 Strand, London WC2R 0EZ

Winter Garden – The Landmark Hotel

If the London hustle and bustle isn’t your thing, this is a fantastic spot just to sit and relax in peace and quiet. You will literally feel as if you have been transported to a tropical oasis. Definitely a venue to visit if you’re into plants and a more natural side of things!

Dress code: Smart

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 4.00pm to 2.00am (last orders for non-residents 1.00am) Sunday from 12.00pm to 2.00am (last orders for non-residents 11.30pm) – For Mirror Bar, contact hotel for more information

Telephone: +44 20 7631 8000

Address: 222 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 6JQ