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Signed, sealed, delivered

An important part of the design stage was to involve the developers and UX (user experience) experts – the people responsible for ensuring meaningful interaction between users and websites, apps, online services, physical environments and so on. The two managers of these teams held several meetings with the people who would use the space on a day-to-day basis, asking for their views on the colour choices, suggested layouts and what features they’d like to see in the new office.

According to Young, many of them asked for ‘space to chill out’, and rather than demanding set desks their main concern was access to ‘decent-sized desks’. The final design solution features hot-desking only, and as teams come together to work on projects, the reconfigurable spaces ensure that when a team works on a project together, they can do so in a truly agile way.

“There are bench desks and whiteboards throughout the workspace to encourage team working and innovative ideas,” says Young. “Sometimes teams will work across two workspaces, so we’ve got areas where they can stand and have a quick exchange. We’ve also ensured there is enough space and air throughout, and included lots of pot plants and an ivy wall to bring the outside in. With everyone using mobile phones, no one is tied to a desk.”

Overseeing the works and the move was another challenge, due to the unique nature of an estate that rarely shuts down. “We had to plan our works for a live environment and deliver as little disruption as possible,” says Young. The project began last November with a design period that lasted until February, followed by a nine to 12-week building phase. The building contractor, Office Insight, was also responsible for the design. The mobilisation process had to be quick, adds Young, because the lease was coming to an end on the building where the teams were located.

After a couple of months it’s obvious the project has been a success. “The staff really like it and so too do the senior management team and our clients,” comments Young. “We’re all settling into the space, and I find it easy to manage because the desks and the spaces are laid out really well.”

He’s especially pleased with the living area. “It’s a space where the guys can relax and do what they need to do, but equally it’s a space which showcases our innovations, including the delivery drones that we are trialling and the other exciting stuff that we do. There is even a screen which rotates where people can access Apple TV and games. People will work and then come to the living area to play before going home, meaning they can unwind here before commuting.”

This is not to say, however, that the innovative workplace appeals solely to a young, technically astute generation. “We do have a mix of different generations here, and I firmly believe that people, no matter what their age, are now looking for a workspace rather than a traditional office. We’ve various demographics that have come here and said ‘wow, it’s a very cool space’.”

Designing, fitting out and running such an innovative workspace for people who are, in turn, developing new ways of connecting with customers and clients has also inspired Young, who admits to “a passion for using technology and innovation to deliver an amazing workplace experience”.

“Facilities [management] has got to keep mobile and agile to develop the businesses that we work in,” he says, “and we’ve got to look at innovative ways of doing so. We’re already looking at the way we manage services. For instance, if there’s a broken light you should be able to go on an app to request that it’s fixed. One of the drivers of our strategy is that guys on site with little interest in building management will take a picture of a broken light and get someone out to fix it. In this way, we’re looking at the tech Hermes is bringing to our industry and seeing how it can be applied to FM.”

The new hub has been so successful that the company is now looking to roll out the model. “We’ve got a fine balance between giving our people what they want and encouraging them to stay around and socialise with each other to help create a better work-life balance,” says Young. “All this has been achieved within a very workable office space where high-end and leading-edge work is completed. It’s a really good space, and I’m proud of what we’ve delivered.”

About Sarah OBeirne


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