A technology-infused brand journey from M Moser
Brighton-based Unity required a space that would foster connectivity between staff, while providing an exceptional client-facing experience.
The multi-disciplinary property and construction consultancy have relocated, creating a showcase office that provides a flexible and collaborative workspace for staff.
Narbutas, Humanscale, Ocee Design, JDD, Brunner, Frovi, Spacestar, orangebox, Howden, Fenix
Innerspace Cheshire, Autex, Ecosorba Ltd, Solus, Hi-Macs
Autex Acoustics, Forbo Flooring Systems, Stansons Group, Xsign, Fagerhult Lighting
We’re sat in the impressive yet calm boardroom space of Ingleton Wood’s new London home, enjoying the tranquility above the busy Aldgate streets. We ask our hosts about the location of the firm’s former London base. We weren’t quite expecting them to, simultaneously, point to the building immediately opposite.
So, in geographical terms, the firm hasn’t moved far at all. In business and cultural terms, however, this has been quite a journey.
Ingleton Wood, as many of you will be all too aware, is a leading multi-disciplinary property and construction consultancy, providing a wide range of services across a variety of industry sectors, including commercial, health, education, defence, residential and community. The firm’s services include architecture, building surveying, building services engineering, planning, interior design, sustainability, civil and structural engineering, quantity surveying, project management, CDM and health and safety services.
Beyond the new Alie Street HQ here in Aldgate, Ingleton Wood also has offices in Billericay, Cambridge, Colchester, Norwich and Oxford.
Our aforementioned hosts are Associate, Nicole Flynn, and Project Manager, David Wright, who can tell us more about the move across the road that’s had such a major impact on the business. ‘Our partners looked at quite a few buildings around this area,’ Nicole reveals. ‘They also looked at other locations in London – but the links here are so good for the projects we’re involved with. They’re also very thoughtful about our people, so they also looked at everyone’s commute – and this is such a good location for the majority of us.
‘We eventually narrowed it down to three buildings and I test fitted each of them – and this just worked.’
So what prompted the initial search? ‘The lease was coming up on the space across the road,’ David explains. ‘There is an American tech start-up company in that building who started off with half of one floor and in just a couple of months have grown, and have now taken up practically all of the building!’
‘We had also started to look at how we were working,’ Nicole tells us. ‘A lot of our people were out a great deal and we were really quite traditional. We were struggling in that space. We had fixed, old, big timber desks, a big boardroom, a booth from Orangebox – and that was just about it. We were working in teams, but nobody had any space, there was no social space – the kitchen was tiny – and this wasn’t helping how we work. We’re a multi-disciplinary firm after all. We were telling our clients how they should work – and then not doing it ourselves!
‘The partners then decided to get a proper workplace analysis study, to see how we were actually using the space – so we had the proper data to understand what we required.
‘Once we could see that data – the fact that we were at about 40% occupancy – it was clear that we had to change things. Quiet space is also a big issue for people, and so they were working from home or sitting in coffee shops because we just didn’t have those facilities.
‘This is why we have created a series of zones here and, although we have not been here very long, people are embracing the concept – they were worried about not having their own fixed desk, but now they’ve seen what else the space provides, they’ve quickly come around to the idea.’
‘There is a real mix generationally – so we have people who are used to their own fixed desks and also younger people who are naturally more agile. Our challenge, in many ways, was to convince the directors that we need to change so that we can continue to attract that younger talent.’
‘We not only took the staff on the journey – we also had to take the directors on a journey,’ David smiles. ‘This is about managing by output – not by visibility. It’s absolutely okay for people to move around the space.’
Armed with this data and the proof that not everyone needed a daily desk, the team set about transforming the way the Ingleton Wood London space worked, introducing an agile, collaborative approach.
‘Agile working is more than just providing a new workplace – it involves a culture change throughout the organisation and the buy-in of both management and staff is essential from the outset,’ Nicole continues
‘Organisations that embrace both flexible and agile working provide staff with a great work/life balance that’s also essential when it comes to attracting new diverse talent, increasing staff morale, and improving productivity. Companies like ours know that one size does not fit all.’
Now, concentrate zones enable staff to use enclosed pods for phone calls, working and creative thinking in a quiet environment, while collaborate zones include a variety of workstations, high benches, meeting pods and a meeting room, so teams of architects and interior designers can meet and work hand-in-hand with colleagues from other teams and departments.
‘Like David said, we needed to make sure that people knew it was okay to move away from their workstations,’ Nicole considers. ‘Everyone is different – and the reason we’ve created these zones and embraced these different work settings is that, depending on the task, you might not want to be disturbed or you might want to be away from the busier end of the space.
‘Everyone is on mobile technology now – so they aren’t tethered to the desk in the same way they were when we had fixed telephones. We’ve also found that people are really collaborating now. When people did collaborate in the past, it tended to be at the end of a row of desks
– and that often disturbed others. Now we have an amazing open plan kitchen/collaboration space, they have laptops and, possibly most importantly, they have choice.’
‘It’s become a much more social space as well,’ David tells us. ‘People come together for lunch and for coffee, and it is a large enough space to have office meetings in a far less formal setting.
‘It has been really interesting to see how people use the space. Some of the spaces I thought would be particularly popular for those who wanted a quieter, more secluded place to work actually aren’t the most popular – and some of the areas I thought might be the loudest and most disruptive have actually become some of the quietest! It is really good to see people moving around the space and sitting with people they normally wouldn’t sit with. It’s also good to see people really relaxing into not just the new space, but also the new working patterns. Our communication and interaction is so much better – and it’s also having real benefits for our clients in the way that we’re now able to work with them.’
‘People genuinely are getting to know one another better,’ Nicole adds.
Sustainable materials are fused with high quality detailing, mobile technology and a brilliant selection of furniture, supplied by Rainbow.
‘Rainbow worked closely with us on this concept for agile working,’ Nicole says. ‘It was a pleasure to collaborate with them throughout the project. They took us around a number of showrooms in Clerkenwell and introduced us to pieces we were not even aware of. I think the result of this is that, between us, we were able to choose the best products to help us achieve this agile, flexible, collaborative, new approach.
The space itself features contemporary, bold and colourful finishes, natural wall claddings from Innerspace Cheshire and innovative flooring designs from Interface.
How far they’ve come!
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