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A post-Covid Cundall office - part two

Workspace By Rob Turner, Partner, Acoustics – 08 April 2022

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Rob Turner with red brick background

Rob Turner

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In my first blog, back in July 2021, I wrote about the decision process behind the selection of our new home in Manchester and the risks we took in making such a bold change in the midst of a pandemic. I am sure most of my colleagues will agree that the exciting part of this journey was the fit-out and the challenges that came with it.

In all honesty, in the time that has since passed, both myself and my Manchester-based colleagues have become accustomed to our new space. It has taken a couple of recent events to remind me that what we’ve got is pretty amazing and worth shouting about.

The first event was a visit by the judging panel for the BCO Northern Awards where our new space is shortlisted in the 'Projects up to 1500m2' category. The visit gave us a great opportunity to talk with esteemed industry peers about the journey we’d been on in selecting and designing an office fit for the post-pandemic era.

The second event was our Cundall Leadership Forum which brought together partners and discipline leaders from across our global practice. This forum allowed us to showcase the new office to our leadership team and explain the drivers behind the decisions we took.

I could write pages and pages about our new office... Rather than giving you all the finer details, I thought it would be more interesting to provide an outline of what we did along with some advice on what to do if you’re considering a change to your office:

  • Go completely agile: everyone at Cundall Manchester has a laptop. This is a gamechanger and facilitates a truly agile way of working. We have 70 staff and 38 traditional workstations. 34 of those 38 are agile and can be used by any staff member at any time.
  • Give everyone a locker: if you’re going to move to an agile way of working with a clear desk policy, then everyone must have their own dedicated locker. If you’re planning a new office, make sure you’ve got a decent allowance for these as the space adds up.
  • Invest in IT: staff want IT to be simple and reliable. Ideally, avoid a mix of hardware (e.g. different desks with different laptop docks) and go wireless where possible. All our presentation screens use a Microsoft WIFI dongle which allows seamless sharing of laptop screens onto larger displays. Choose an agile working management app/software that allows staff to pre-book agile workstations and see which colleagues are due in the office.
  • Maximise environmental conditions: design spaces that give occupants good access to natural daylight, think about the changing acoustic requirements in open plan and private spaces and maximise fresh air via natural means where possible.
  • Encourage collaboration and socialising: give more space to collaboration areas. The number of traditional workstations reduced by 50% when we moved from our previous office, but the overall floor area is only 20% less. We have placed much more emphasis on the needs of staff to have different types of spaces to collaborate in teams and mix together socially.
  • Make the office an attractive proposition: create a space that gives your staff a reason to get together. Most businesses have proved that the technology exists to function remotely, but the pandemic taught us how important being together in person really is. It drives culture and a sense of togetherness which can’t be achieved remotely and is massively important to us in Manchester.
  • Over the last couple of years, the future of the workplace was thrown into a quandary. However, this process has taught us that by creating a space that helps facilitate collaboration and creativity, as well as offering flexibility, the office is as important as it has ever been.

    I could talk about our new office for days because I think it’s pretty impressive. So, if you’re interested to hear more of the finer details, just drop by for a brew and a tour.

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