Astellas appointed Perkins+Will to design their new workplace at 1000 Hillswood in Chertsey, Surrey. A key part of their brief was to challenge how the business currently worked and to propose a new way of working that encourages team work and collaboration and would suit the highly glazed, light and open Foster building they had just purchased. A feature of this building was the ground floor ‘street’, an area of approximately 20,000sqft that had the potential to house not only cafe and restaurant spaces, but to offer open and closed spaces for meeting and working.
Astellas’s existing offices were highly cellularised and the business was split over 3 buildings. One of our key concepts was to provide a central ‘heart’ for the business to aid transparency and communication, ‘the beating pulse’- the street was the ideal place to do this. Combining the street with the new idea of ‘working everywhere’ was to be the opportunity and the challenge for the business.
Astellas’ senior management had to be convinced of the benefits to be gained from a new way of working programme and initially were resistant and sceptical. To help aid the process of change we initiated a series of workshops with both senior management and a cross section of staff representatives. Interestingly, the staff representatives were more open to the idea of working in a different way and we introduced them to the idea of ‘spending their space’. This meant that they could gain new types of space to work in by having less desks, moving away from individually allocated workstations to teams sharing desks at a ratio of eight desks for 10 people.
The teams could choose from a menu of work setting types ranging from ‘kitchen tables’ to sofas and chairs to meeting tables supported by a range of whiteboards, pin up spaces, and screening for privacy. Additionally, the three finger office floor has a range of small rooms offering opportunities for small meetings, teleconferencing, and quiet working. Special attention was given to furniture- there are pod type sofas with integrated ceiling and lighting for individual or collaborative work.
The key to the success of this project was the communication that started from the very outset. We designed a step-by-step change and communication process that allowed staff input into the design. Project ‘champions’ helped their colleagues to understand the opportunities and to voice concerns.