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New HQ allows staff to see the [White] light

10 June 2019

Taking full advantage of its move to new premises last year, The White Co embraced some of the latest design trends while emphasising its corporate identity.

There has been a notable increase in companies using their offices to impress visitors, leading to reports of how this has proved successful in winning new business and helping the business to show a return on their investment.

Budgetary constraints are one of the major hurdles to overcome, as reported by members of the PFM Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) and many others in the FM sector, with applications for funding having to be supported by sound business cases if they are to stand any chance of being accepted.

But with increasing amounts of evidence pointing to the benefits of upgrading office design – including increased productivity, higher levels of wellbeing and reduced energy use and carbon emissions – the creation of business cases to justify these can be seen to be supported by the results achieved by others.

When the well-known high street retailer The White Company moved into its new headquarters at Television Centre in London’s White City last year, it marked the final phase of an in-depth process that included numerous considerations. These ranged from maintaining and further projecting its distinctive brand image to meeting the expectations of its staff.

While the former can be seen to have been achieved with some style by simply approaching the new front desk, with the walkway providing views of the reception area and glimpses of a number of additional design features, the latter proved more challenging for various reasons.

It is, of course, unlikely that the needs of more than 300 individuals can all be catered for, which was further emphasised by a workplace study. Conducted by Peldon Rose, working in partnership with award-winning interior design agency Household to create The White Company’s new headquarters, the survey showed that 50% of the workforce was classed as introverts, with significantly different working requirements to those classed as extroverts.

This helped to add significant emphasis of the need to consider the main human character traits when creating the 32,000 sq ft workspace. There has been increasing acceptance of the need to include ‘quiet areas’ within new office designs in recent years, usually driven by the acceptance of reasons to provide a varied workplace and cater for those that require more privacy to complete their tasks.

In the case of The White Company, however, the inclusion of quiet areas was seen as imperative to cater for the needs of half of the workers on site.

As a result, its new head office can be seen to include a mix of designs that take influence from both the corporate office and domestic settings, while maintaining an overall focus on the company’s corporate image. This has resulted in those wishing to find quiet areas to work having a number of options from which to choose.

Comfortably upholstered armchairs can be seen in a number of areas, particularly around the main reception desk and alongside the glass panels that provide a view of the building’s main entrance and foyer that deliver a balcony effect that no doubt includes the advantage of further enhancing the sense of space within the office setting.

The feeling of space is also provided by the views of the local area enabled by the large glass panels bordering the open plan working, restaurant and meeting room areas. Further options were being considered at the time of PFM’s visit for the large patio area, which had been used for social events such as parties for staff.

In addition to catering for the needs of all members of staff, while aligning all aspects of the office design with the company’s corporate identity, another important consideration was to ensure that The White Company’s new headquarters used the available space to best effect.

As a result, additional members of staff can be easily accommodated and adds another aspect of the move that is likely to prove to be of significant value in the future. Having created the dining area for staff to take meals away from their desks, this had additionally proved popular for holding meetings, with some members of staff also using them to work from.

Leading off from the dining area, the new design also includes an annexe that provides further evidence of the mix of corporate and domestic design influences. Perhaps one of the most notable features is a wall of pictures consisting of the front covers of The White Company’s catalogues, which not only provides an eye-catching and attractive addition to the overall interior design, but additionally serves as a visual time line to chart its progress since the company’s launch in 1994.

Another important aspect of any relocation exercise is to interact with all members of staff to ensure that they remain fully engaged with the process, particularly when new options or methods of working are included that need to be appreciated and used to best effect.

In addition to the collaborative efforts of the management team in engaging and supporting colleagues included in the move, the inclusion of gift boxes to greet staff on their first day in the new office was another gesture designed to increase the feeling of inclusion.

Following the move from the old office, located four miles from Television Centre, the collaborative efforts made by The White Company and Peldon Rose were seen to have been highly successful, with just three members of staff leaving from the workforce of more than 330 people.

In addition to its own people, the company is continuing to engage with others living and working in the surrounding area to celebrate special occasions such as Christmas. Having devoted considerable effort and investment into creating its new headquarters, The White Company can be seen to be reaping the benefits that continue to provide additional opportunities for further expansion in the future.

Further success has also been recorded for the partnership between The White Company and Peldon Rose after this was confirmed as a finalist in the PFM Partnership Awards 2019 Partners in Relocation category.

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