Managing people through office change

A need for change

Huntswood provide managed resource, consulting and recruitment within the financial services sector.  They had been in their existing office space in Abbey Gardens, Reading for 10 years when, due to continued success, their current office was no longer fit for purpose.

Andrew Harris, Area Sq project director explains: “We first engaged with Huntswood almost two years ago; they had outgrown their current facilities and we were initially asked to redesign a small office area for it to be utilised for their continued growth.  However, once we started showing them alternative sites, they realised their overall office design was outdated and no longer supported their company culture.”

Huntswood made the decision to overhaul their existing 20,000 sq ft office, in addition to acquiring an additional 30,000 sq ft of space to accommodate their continued evolution.

Due to the nature of their business, Huntswood’s office space facilitates both their own senior management team and supporting staff, as well as staff outsourced to their financial services clients.  Recognised as a ‘people-first’ business – their win for The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to Work For award is reflective of this – thoughtful consideration of necessary changes to their working environment and possible effects on their workforce was required throughout the design and fit-out process to retain their existing culture.

Transforming the office space

The design needed to provide professional, yet comfortable front-of-house facilities as well as modernised, collaborative work areas that would incorporate a subtle application of their new branding.

Designed within a donut shape, Area Sq provided an open plan office solution with a central core.  To maximise connectivity, the building’s south and central wings were merged to create one, universal space.  A multi-functional tea point area – The Junction – was installed as a central meeting and breakout space for the entire business.

Additionally, front-of-house facilities were transformed to comprise a stylish reception area and meeting suite, designed to comply with their new brand guidelines, and included updated AV equipment throughout.  Area Sq’s sister company Sketch Studios provided an innovative furniture solution that includes curvy, soft meeting room and reception chairs to provide added levels of comfort, whilst being sympathetic with the professional setting.

Managing workplace change

The office redesign integrated working culture, the physical environment and an advanced technology solution; revolutionising their previous way of working.  To ensure successful adoption of their new office design, a change management plan needed to be carefully considered.

Steve Mills, Risk Director at Huntswood says: “Considerable changes to Huntswood’s branding, a new way of working and technology updates were all employed at the same time.  Although we were confident this was the right move for the business, we wanted our staff to be as positive with the office redesign as the steering group were.  It was crucial that our staff were a part of the developing plans, had the opportunity to share their thoughts, and have their ideas listened to.”

Furniture showroom visits, branding workshops, project progress team talks and demonstrations of the newly-installed technology solution were implemented throughout the initial 12-week project and the two subsequent follow up 6-week phases.

Steve added: “We wanted to ensure that our entire team were familiar with the new environment and the technology being implemented prior to the changes occurring.  This is where the workshops and training were fundamental in providing an outlet to communicate developments.”

A reinvigorated work environment

Huntswood’s office is a complete transformation from what it once was.  The open plan design has improved communication, collaboration and visibility of senior staff.  In addition, the modernisation of the front-of-house facilities supports their company values and reflects their industry leader status.

Andrew Harris commented:  “We are delighted to have provided Huntswood with a reenergised workspace.  We had a fantastic working relationship with them, and I think our collaborative way of working helped deliver each phase to an exceptional standard.  The office design supports their unique working culture and reflects their status as the forward-thinking, market-leading business they are.  We are confident their innovative office environment will support their business growth for years to come.”

Steve concludes: “What started life as a project to refresh our existing space became a project which effectively gave us a platform to relaunch our brand. The change was seamless in terms of business continuity and the impact that we were able to create across the whole business was huge. Area Sq helped us to ensure that we did the right thing but also ensured that we did it the right way!”