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Arresting Change

15 January 2009

Moving from three premises into one, Police Federation sought to create a better working environment at its new headquarters, and provide accessible and flexible space for work, training and leisure use.

DURING 2008 THE POLICE FEDERATION MOVED from three separate premises to a brand new purpose-built facility in Leatherhead, Surrey. In managing the move the organisation was keen to ensure a smooth transition for staff as well as meeting the needs of all other stakeholders. The office furniture was seen as a vital element in achieving this.

The Police Federation of England & Wales, created by an Act of Parliament in 1919, is the staff organisation representing 140,000 police constables, sergeants, inspectors and chief inspectors. It is charged with ensuring their views on all aspects of policing are communicated to the Government, opinion formers and key stakeholders.

The Federation has around 60 permanent members of staff and also needs to provide accommodation for regular committee meetings for each of the ranks it represents. Prior to the move the organisation operated from three joined Victorian premises, interconnected by corridors and stairwells, providing mostly cellular office space for staff.

In contrast, the new headquarters is a modern two-storey building with predominantly open plan office areas. It also incorporates committee rooms, training facilities with associated leisure and accommodation facilities, break out areas, a bar and a restaurant.

From the start it was recognised that the moving process could be a traumatic for staff if not handled sympathetically. Therefore, the Federation was keen that interior designs and furniture installed should help ease the overall transition to the new environment by being as space efficient, comfortable and adaptable as possible.

In addition to this, the Federation hoped to exceed its statutory obligations, especially with regards to Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), to fully provide for the current and any future potential requirements of its members and guests. Furthermore, the Federation's long term ambition is to market its new accommodation and leisure facilities to members and their families for use during the week, in addition to training. This would make the HQ a seven-day-aweek operation, requiring the furniture to be sufficiently flexible and hard wearing to accommodate a range of requirements and expectations.

In sourcing a suitable furniture supplier, the Federation consulted with several companies. During initial user consultation, each department was asked to look at their working methods and list their ideal requirements. Kinnarps' ability to provide a solution that successfully balanced 'best value' principles with durable, contemporary design and ergonomic heightadjustment criteria was a key factor in securing the contract. The company’s status as an experienced supplier to the Framework Agreement was also an important contributory factor.

The building's architecture was specifically developed to be sustainable and sit comfortably within the surrounding Surrey landscape, while also offering a practical, contemporary operating environment. The chosen interior solution needed to mirror this, fitting seamlessly into a streamlined design-led space whilst offering the maximum possible functionality.

The principles of sustainability were also extended to the building’s services, such as the use of solar heating for the swimming pool and domestic hot water - and to the credentials of suppliers. In the case of furniture supply, Kinnarps was required to show evidence of sustainably sourced raw materials and that these same criteria were applied to its own operations. Details such as sustainable design, minimal packaging with re-use, waste minimisation and use of renewable energy sources at manufacturing facilities were all features that reinforced the choice of furniture supplier.

The next stage of the consultation process was to build mock ups of the various workstation options in the Kinnarps showroom and invite committee chairmen, other representatives from the various committees, members of staff and other stakeholders to view them.

The preferred option was a corner workstation, similar in style to those in use at the existing premises, with an ambidextrous configuration so that pedestals could be sited on the left or right. This configuration also provided the option of adding extension tables to create more space where required.

Representatives from each of the departments (ICT, human resources, communications, printing, research etc) were invited to view the mocked up workstations and provide feedback on their particular requirements. As changes were suggested they were entered into a computer model to instantly produce a 3D image that staff could view to visualise the projected final effect.

The Federation was also impressed with Kinnarps' ability to accommodate last minute changes. Additional furniture had been requested at a late stage for the Constables' office area and Kinnarps’ fast response ensured that these items were delivered on time.

To ensure a smooth implementation, Kinnarps’ team leader carried out a survey of the site prior to delivery of the furniture and compiled a site assessment report that identified specific requirements, any access or parking difficulties and other issues that could affect installation. This information was combined with key milestone dates and actions so the delivery and installation team had clear targets to work to.

All of the furniture was delivered to site wrapped in blankets, using cardboard to divide sections and provide extra protection. After the furniture was offloaded and manoeuvred to the required positions, these wrapping materials were retained for re-use on future deliveries, thus minimising waste from the project.

Once the furniture had been assembled and positioned, the installation team leader and the client walked around the site to check the quality of the installation and note any future actions that the client required. In this way, there is complete clarity that eliminates any future misunderstandings - a procedure that received praise from the Federation.

The extensive office facilities located on the first floor of the new headquarters building include a mixture of individual offices for elected officials and staff as well as open plan working environments for some departments. For open plan areas, standing height tables and varied height desktop screens were chosen to improve levels of communication or provide increased privacy, as required. Elected officials, many moving to smaller individual workspaces, were provided with fully adjustable and space-efficient workstations allowing for an individual work area and a small meeting table.

To ensure that ergonomic requirements were fully addressed for a workforce that varies considerably in age and physical size, 9000 series task chairs were chosen throughout. These provide a very high level of adjustability for every employee.

Facilities on the ground floor include conference and training areas that need to be highly configurable to suit different events. Kite tables were selected for this purpose as they allow spaces to be rapidly reorganised to suit every eventuality from a theatre-style arrangement for 30 delegates to individual tables for breakout work.

In the spacious main Atrium area on the ground floor, which includes a café/bar, the emphasis is on comfort within a more leisurely environment. Furniture includes Apollo chairs and sofas with series T coffee tables, and Centrum medium chairs in white leather with Obi tables. The lounge and restaurant facilities use Yin visitor chairs with Remus dining tables in an open plan 'community' style. This area has proved to be very popular with staff for informal meetings and discussions.

Similarly, the office space has been warmly received by the staff. They now have a flexible and adaptable working environment that accommodates the varied departmental and individual employee work preferences within a consistent and enduring design – thus fulfilling the main objective for the Federation throughout the project.

As David Moore, treasurer of the Police Federation and project manager for the new HQ commented: "The professionalism, project management and product delivered by Kinnarps have been of the highest standard and we are delighted with the end result achieved.”

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