Sheffield-based architects HLM commissioned Small Machines to produce a unique range of portable boxes for use by all staff at their Tudor Square offices.


As part of HLM’s lifestyle package, which strives to help staff achieve the ultimate work-life balance, the company has recently launched an agile working plan for its employees; everyone can now enjoy more flexible working arrangements, including 9-day fortnights. The introduction of hot desking has enabled this flexibility and in order to facilitate the new working arrangements HLM needed an innovative approach to deal with the storage of personal items within the office.

Giles Grover, who runs Small Machines — a company that manufacturers laser-cut wooden toys based in Sheffield — developed the idea of the hot box, which would be used by all staff to stow their personal items at the end of each day.

Karen Mosley, a director at HLM explains how the concept for the hot box developed: “We initially researched the market for portable boxes for storing personal items, but we found nothing suitable.

“We met with Giles and explained our requirements, and he came back with the concept which we loved. They are made from laser-cut unfinished plywood, which allows everyone to design and personalise their boxes. They provide ample room for everyone’s personal items and each morning staff take their box to an available desk. From our point of view they are perfect and it is an added bonus that they are made here in Sheffield.”

HLM is delighted to be helping an SME to gain traction in the marketplace and anticipate strong demand for his hot boxes. Commenting on the new product range Giles said: “When I first met with HLM I knew what they wanted and had an immediate idea for the hot box. After several meetings the design was finalised and we then began manufacturing the first run of 30 hot boxes.

“This is a slightly new departure for the company but it was a challenge we relished and are delighted with the result.”


Photo caption: Giles Grover, owner of Small Machines, with the assembled hot boxes

Main photo: Close-up of the hot boxes.

Go top