Michelle Mone and husband Doug Barrowman invest £18m in ‘post-Covid workplace concept’

Michelle Mone Neo

Michelle Mone and her husband Doug Barrowman have announced they are to invest £18 million in a new workspace concept to meet the post-coronavirus demand from businesses.

The Ultimo bra boss and entrepreneur, 49, who previously battled with Covid-19, is making her first collaborative business venture with her husband, 53, in Aberdeen.

The workspace, which is called neospace, will offer 78 tech-led private offices, 20 co-working flexi-pods and nine meeting rooms for companies tackling hybrid working as a result of the pandemic.

Flexible membership plans will be offered at the 55,000 square foot space in Aberdeen instead of long-term fixed leases.

The space also offers a state-of-the-art gym, a full timetable of instructor-led exercise classes, a TrackMan golf simulator and steam and sauna rooms.

The Baroness described it as ‘a real labour of love born during lockdown’.

She said: ‘Scotland is dear to both Doug and I and we want to give something back and where better than Aberdeen, a city that has always excelled in business and innovation – neospace has been designed to support people as they return to work and seek out new ways of working.

Mone And Barrowman at Neo

‘There is a real lethargy around home working, around zoom calls, around working in silo; people are desperate to get back to work and to see people, but not necessarily in the traditional way – five days a week in a big office space.

‘What we have tried to do with neospace is to create a community where ‘work life’ and ‘real life’ collide – ultimately, a multi-use environment where individuals and businesses can work, rest and play, all under one roof.

‘Over the past 12 months, the exodus from offices has really challenged people’s mental health and raised big questions about future ways of working.

‘Not everyone wants or even needs to spend great swathes of time commuting to an office every day; and not every large corporate wants to be saddled with a large office and a long lease. British business has moved on.

‘With neospace, we feel we’ve created an inclusive society and the perfect workspace for both established and small businesses as well as new start ups; no long-term leases, just rolling memberships and the opportunity to give your employees a safe, healthy and invigorating environment where they can thrive.’

The offices range from space for two people up to a 30-person facility with hot desking also on site.

Doug came up with the idea and vision for the concept, utilising Riverside House which his family office has owned since 2012.

‘For many business owners and entrepreneurs, nothing will ever be the same again when it comes to working life and the traditional office space.

‘Our vision with neospace was to create a next-generation work space to support different working patterns, but – more importantly – to support a fulfilling work environment where health and well-being has equal standing.

‘Following the pandemic, no one-size-fits all and that’s the strength of neospace; the space is supremely flexible and designed to be built around individual needs, presenting them with the right space at the right time.’

Michelle said she was floored by Covid-19 after battling with the illness for two weeks in March.

She told Instagram followers at the time: ‘For the last couple of weeks, I battled with COVID-19. I am a fit person but I won’t lie to you: It floored me.

‘I knew I had it before I got my PCR test back. I was demonstrating all of the main symptoms and it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced: extremely high temperature; serious shortness of breath; sore bones; a rash all over my body; an awful sore throat and cough; a beating headache and a total loss of smell and taste!’

Baroness Mone who stayed at her estate with her billionaire husband during her illness said: ‘It’s very scary to see all this happen to your body at once.

‘It’s a really nasty illness and I was grateful to be at home with my husband (and the three wee dogs, of course!) who all looked after me amazingly.’