In this month of creative couples, we couldn’t go past The Office Space’s own husband and wife duo Boris and Naomi Tosic. An award-winning builder and avid art collector, Boris creates shared spaces of exceptional quality and beauty. With Naomi’s strategic direction, their boutique, serviced offices develop quickly transform into more than working environments. They’re places where the remarkable happens—centres of art, culture, insight and entertainment.
How did you both meet?
NT: We actually met at The Office Space some 13 years ago! I was running my own physiotherapy practice in Melbourne but had just secured a big contract with Qantas to set up and run their staff medical centres. I was young (26) and untrained in the world of business so one of my friends suggested I take a day trip with him to see a service office business his friend Boris ran. When I first met Boris on Level 6 at Reservoir Street, he thought I was there for a job interview as a receptionist. Turns out I got the role of wife and business partner eventually!
BT: Naomi and I met at the Reservoir Street office and, although I can usually talk underwater, I was instantly stuck for words. By the time we’d had lunch with our mutual friend, I’d found my voice again and asked her to Europe with me, and then, a few months later, to be my life partner. I got a great business partner in the deal and our love for business is a big part of our relationship and our mutual energy.
What was behind the decision for you both to start working together?
NT: We both had separate businesses – mine in workplace health and medicine, and Boris in high end office and retail fitouts, and The Office Space was a place where we could both cooperate and work on something together. I transitioned from Physio and took on the role of Business Manager in 2008 because we both realised that the priority was our ‘family business’ and it needed someone strong at the helm rather than outsourcing this.
BT: I was struggling to translate how I wanted the business to be run and the service we wanted to provide to our customers. Naomi was already behind the scenes giving me advice and listening to my frustrations, and it was only natural that she would step up into the role.
Tell me about the dynamic between you both.
NT: We are extremely different people and have really different personalities. Boris is obsessed with design and meticulous about details and aesthetics. I, on the other hand, am passionate about people and the creation of a great workplace culture. I think this allows us to deliver a workplace that is exceptionally beautiful but also deeply nurturing and dynamic. I often joke that “Boris builds the office and I fills the office” but this actually works for us. Boris is very involved in the origin of new sites. He is brave and visionary, and very strategic. And he is entirely hands-on with the building of a new level (as we grew and expanded at Reservoir Street) or a whole new office like Paramount. He then hands over to me and my amazing team to fulfil all the roles of operations, sales and marketing, community building and communications. So Boris really makes the big picture decisions but I made the critical day to day decisions to shape the nature of the business.
BT: I build with design in mind, and Naomi’s input on numbers and viability but then Naomi takes over and injects her own life and energy – building a community and a strong team to run the space.
What have you learned from working together?
NT: I have learned so much from Boris about business. Actually, mostly I’ve learned so much about myself in the context of both a marriage relationship, and a working relationship. I met Boris when I was very young and inexperienced so I felt I was pretending a lot of the time – needing to know the answers. With his greater years in business and huge life experience, Boris taught me that I didn’t have to know everything – I needed to be humble to ask questions and to be clever in solving problems. He also taught me about absolute personal truth – and that by reading ones own emotions and reactions was the first step in learning to read a room and having an internal compass in business dealings. I highly value his personal integrity, his unwavering commitment to speaking truth, and his bravery, enthusiasm and vision in business.
BT: I appreciate Naomi’s calmer demeaned and ability to articulate and organise my throughs. I operate in a highly visual ‘built’ world and am focused towards achieving physical and aesthetic outcomes. Naomi is more connected to people, for people, and is motivated to build relationships and care for people. I guess we both build – just with a different attention to detail.
The Office Space is renowned for its sophisticated, professional environment and premium support. What are you most proud of about your business?
NT: Our spaces are beautiful but I’m most proud of our authenticity. Every piece of furniture and artwork is authentic, our staff are authentic in how they form genuine relationships with our clients, and Boris and I strive to create an authentic business that is truely unique in an industry that has become very crowded and gimmicky.
BT: I am proud with how our offices resonate with people. With the knowledge that we spend more than one-third of our life at work, I like that our spaces are beautiful and supportive and allow people to run their businesses better.