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Lloyd’s transforms office space to make it fit for the future

13 November 2020

Following the case study published on the Lloyd’s building in central London published in the PFM August issue, we attended its recent virtual presentation as part of Workplace Week International.

One of the most prominent challenges to businesses in their adjustment in continuing operations while dealing with the impact of the Covid-19 virus this year has been that of maintaining levels of collaboration between colleagues, clients and their industry partners.

With many people working from home or away from the main office, the FM sector has seen a high level of involvement in keeping everyone supported and connected.

In addition to these efforts, both in-house teams and their service partners have been the driving force in adapting workplaces to meet the requirements driven by the emergence of the virus.

The Lloyd’s building Corporate Real Estate (CRE) team has taken these efforts a stage further by delivering a comprehensive refurbishment project that involved updating the facility to meet the current and future needs of those providing world-class insurance services within the building.

Many of the actions described by Lloyd’s CRE senior manager Terry Blacker in the August issue of PFM have now been successfully delivered.

The evidence for this is provided by Lloyd’s CRE business partnering and stakeholder manager Darren Cox during his presentation on the building in support of the Workplace Week International initiative, which the company has supported for more than a decade.

Mr Cox first outlines the considerable efforts taken in engaging with those working within the facility to understand their requirements.

In addition to comprehensive surveys and workshops, personal interviews were also undertaken to form a comprehensive overview of workers’ needs.

These efforts were combined with a survey of the workplace that revealed occupancy levels of just 33% for desks, on average, and that meeting rooms – designed to be used by four or five people – were used by one or two individuals in 60% of meetings.

“We received an 80% response rate to the surveys and it was good to see that everyone was very engaged,” says Mr Cox. “There was a very emotional response, in many cases, and showed that we needed to deliver more space to encourage greater levels of collaboration – and also better coffee.”

Among the various requirements discussed with workers was the need for an office facility with a more modern appearance that included improved lighting and use of colour. High levels of comfort were another important factor to include in the redesign of the building’s interior.

In addition to meeting the visual and collaborative aspects of workers’ requirements, the Lloyd’s CRE team further included more practical elements such as ensuring that departments and teams that collaborated on a regular base would be placed on the same floor.

This would allow team members to easily locate and speak to their colleagues in the most convenient manner without having to attend other parts of the building.

Mr Cox explains that although the impact of the virus and the increase in numbers of people working from home has reduced the scope of the initial redesign project by around 30%, it has been successfully delivered and enthusiastically received by all those returning to the office.

“We were actually assisted in some ways by the first lockdown as that allowed us to complete the works without having to worry about the effect the noise would have,” he continues.

“The work was completed during normal office hours, without the need for weekend or evening working that we would have had to do if everyone was in the office.”

Those returning to the office before the second lockdown were greeted by dramatic changes to the working environment, including a number of modern, attractive and comfortable areas ideally suited to collaborative working.

These included a selection of adaptable spaces that incorporate both open meeting areas and enclosed booths that reduce exterior noise and provide more privacy.

Additional enhancement to the modern design has been provided by upgrading the lighting with LED luminaires that complement the various new interior effects while considerably reducing energy requirements.

Yet more effort has also been devoted to assist all workers to adapt to their new working environment in the form of online change management courses.

All pedestals have been removed from desking and each person now has a locker to keep personal items, allowing everyone to be more flexible in their working arrangements.

Although Mr Cox wishes that more than 20% of workers had returned to the office before the second lockdown to appreciate the many improvements delivered within the comprehensive refurbishment project, he says those who have seen the results had been highly enthusiastic and complimentary.

Having installed sensors throughout the building, these will be used to provide data on the levels of usage for each floor once higher levels of occupancy result from the future easing of restrictions.

The Lloyd’s CRE team has additionally had to devote considerable effort in working with their colleagues and service provider partners to ensure that the facility meets the latest requirements for Covid-19.

In addition to the installation of signage, hand sanitisers and ensuring that desks had sufficient space around them, adjustments to the cleaning regime and use of fogging had also been implemented. Following a study of alternative methods, Lloyd’s began a trial of reflective electro-magnetic energy (REME) technology as an alternative to fogging.

This is installed in ventilation ductwork and uses ions to eliminate bacteria and viruses. The company used an independently-verified swab testing method to gauge the cleanliness of surfaces during the trial, which showed improved levels.

These results were further enhanced due to the fact that the REME technology operates constantly, while fogging has to be repeated on a regular basis.

Mr Blacker says: “The system is better than fogging and other air purification systems, as it reaches all areas of the building and is safe, as it produces natural oxidisers.”

Yet more changes are due to be incorporated into the Lloyd’s facility next year, with a redesign Lloyd’s Underwriting Room that will again require high levels of collaboration with the market, inspirational creative design and planning from the CRE team and its partners.

This is expected to include the essential element of allowing all workers to interact and meet personally, while also encouraging the increased use of technology and new working practices.

Further information on Workplace Week International can be found here.

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