Creating a workspace that allows excellence to thrive
21 February 2023
Followers on our social media will have seen that both our London and Cambridge offices have recently been completely remodelled as part of our re-brand.
We worked closely with Source One Consulting to bring our brands to life across our office spaces, in a way which supports collaboration and different working styles.
We caught up with Source One Managing Director, Lisa Lewis, to find out more about what makes a great office space.
Q: When beginning a project like this, where do you start?
A: From our very first discussions with Alexandra Goodchild [Internal Communications and Events Manager at CHR] and her project team, we understood that having a culture where every single member of the team can excel is at the very heart of CHR’s success.
As workplace specialists, we know how important it is to create the right environment, that reinforces and supports the culture while also allowing for creativity, sharing of knowledge, and teamwork.
Alongside this, of course, are also the slightly more boring practicalities of making a workspace operationally effective and efficient to operate in!
Our mission on this project became clear… ‘create a workspace that allows excellence to thrive’.
Q: Where do you start?
A: We always start with the team. The best workplace design should always focus on the ultimate users and so we spent time listening to the operational leads and the wider team to understand how they use the space, their growth ambitions and the brands and culture that they were wanting to reflect going forward.
We believe that office design is a consultative process and not an ‘out of the box’, forced or imposed solution. At every stage of the project, from the initial office layout to final fit-out, we were discussing our ideas with CHR, getting their feedback and refining the ideas.
Q: The new offices have some great new creative spaces; how did you decide what to priorities.
A: We wanted to put staff wellbeing at the forefront of the refit.
CHR prides itself on its ‘extraordinary people’ and so creating a workplace that values and fosters ‘wellness’ was an essential part of the design process. We approached this in several ways…
Bringing the outdoors in
The most striking part of this is the use of plants and greenery throughout the space, the balance of nature is both calming and nurturing.
However, this wasn’t about dotting the odd plant around as in so many soulless offices. It was an intrinsic part of the design that served a purpose from dividing space to dampening noise, including…
· Hanging plants to divide open spaces
· Plants that act as desk and office screens and dividers
· Ceiling plant racks in meeting rooms – doubling up with sound absorbing qualities
· One meeting space also incorporated artificial grass instead of floor tiles.
Making use of outside space
Although based in London, CHR had access to a small rooftop space which had previously been unused. We turned it into a little ‘garden oasis’ chill out zone with some artificial grass, outdoor furniture and some plants.
Lighting is a powerful way to create ambience and moods even in workspaces. In this case, soft lighting was introduced in specific areas rather than the bright ‘antiseptic’ lighting typical in many offices, we also added festoon lighting into the existing sky lanterns.
Creating a wellness area – for body and mind, introducing foot and hand massagers, colouring pads, books and diffusers to really break away from office routine.
In the breakout rest areas we also included wall graphics with text focused on wellness, for example “Rest is not idleness” or “Apples are more effective at waking you in the morning than a coffee”, to reinforce the positive messages – this was via chalkboards to enable individual concept and thought processes.
We wanted to bring the brands to life
We were lucky to be working on the office design as CHR were rolling out new brand identities across the business. However, this did also provide a design challenge of how to incorporate multiple brand identities across one workplace, while retaining a cohesive look and feel.
We approached this with subtlety so as not to override our focus on wellness.
In general, we were careful to use a relatively neutral, clean, and calming colour palette on the walls. However, we used the stronger brand colours in various places to create an impact such as feature walls, meeting room walls and some of the furniture in meeting spaces – working as a team we were all able to input individual elements.
Brand messages in wall graphics and chalkboards
The feature walls also provided the opportunity to convey brand and inspiring messages to the team. In the kitchen spaces we utilised chalkboards as a way to add messaging.
We knew that we needed collaborative working space
Sharing knowledge and the power of teamwork are central to the CHR culture and so creating a collaborative working environment was essential.
Collaborative working is not a new concept, but how to make it work is both challenging and developing in a workplace environment.
We approached this by…
· Flexible and adjustable furniture and spaces that are versatile for different usage
· Built in social spaces
· Adding in greenery
· Calm colour schemes and lighting
· Inspiring wall graphics
· Being mindful of the acoustics. A big challenge for any collaborative space can be noise. We addressed this via private spaces, pods and call booths
Our new offices launched in January 2023 in conjunction with our rebrand launch. We hope you love them as much as we do and thank you to Source One for all their support in making our vision a reality.