The modern workplace is evolving. Over the past decade, office design has moved from fashion to function and back again. As a nation, we are spending more time than ever at work, and our office design reflects the blurred lines between office and home life.
As workers spend more time at the office, employers have responded in kind. Offices are becoming more employee-centric in both design and in use, prioritising employee wellbeing as it is shown to boost productivity and focusing on providing employees with exactly the tools they need in order to get the job done. The good news? Those who work in an office that prioritises their needs, are typically healthier and more productive.
At Hollis, we prioritise the health and wellbeing of our employees, and that means office design is at the top of our agenda. When the Milton Keynes office was opened in 2018, it was done for two reasons: to fill a need to service the local market and to reduce the commute for staff living in the region. The office originally opened with three people, and just a year later our team had already doubled in size, outgrowing the serviced office accommodation which had been our home whilst we settled into the area. With the office move, our team sought to increase our footprint in Milton Keynes, supporting both the expansion of the team and the increase in instructions across the region.
Our new office aims to take advantage of Milton Keynes as a growing area. With upcoming projects like the Santander technology hub and MKU all within walking distance from the new office, our Milton Keynes office hopes to cement its status as part of the economic powerhouse that links Oxford and Cambridge. We expect continued growth in the area throughout the next decade.
How did we go about choosing and designing the right space for us?
Milton Keynes is a unique area. Though the city has been around for less than half a century, it boasts plenty of offices with large floor plans, but smaller good quality premises are harder to come by that meet the criteria we were looking for.
Our new office in Sovereign Court on Witan Gate is just a short walk from the Milton Keynes Central train station. The office sits in an area with many other consultancies, allowing us to visit our clients regularly.
We wanted to make sure that our new space was somewhere we could put our own stamp on. As a company who are constantly working to clients’ specifications, it was refreshing to be able to actually be the client and see things from the other side.
Where employees want to work
Workspace conditions have a dramatic effect on employees: poor acoustics are linked to high stress levels, poor air quality can lead to respiratory issues, and a lack of natural lighting can lead to tiredness and seasonal affective disorder. However, many consultants don’t consider the more nitty gritty elements of office design and the positive role it can play in improving morale.
One of the most significant gripes we had with our previous office was the lack of space away from our desks to hold meetings, chat, or even eat lunch. Socialising throughout the day is often seen as detrimental to a productive workforce, but we believe that notion is not true. In fact, we find that socialisation is imperative to having a happy, motivated team.
In our new office, we incorporated space for employees to socialise. This space includes one of my favourite parts of the project – a ping pong table. We always encourage our staff to try to have fun at work and having the option to step away from their desks and clear their minds over a game of table tennis has been a fantastic morale booster for the team.
In terms of more traditional design, we opted to remove the suspended ceiling over the office to really open up the space and make the office lighter and seem larger. The result was sleek and industrial, our own little slice of Shoreditch in Milton Keynes.
One drawback to removing suspended ceilings is that spaces can echo. Being a business at the forefront of new construction technologies, we were able to employ a slightly different approach to solve this issue. By installing a living moss wall in the meeting room, we were able to merge sleek design and practicality – moss is an excellent sound absorber. The installation of the moss wall has become a talking point not only with clients but around the Hollis network of offices.
Hollis is a leading independent real estate consultancy, and we are all proud to be part of this unique brand. Our specialist teams and industry leading experts operate across the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe and offer services including access consultancy, dilapidations, leasehold advice and measured surveys amongst others. We wanted to make sure that the new office not only supported our growing team but also showcased what we’re able to offer our clients through our workspace consultancy service.
By focusing on value optimisation, rather than cost reduction, we created a space that works for everyone.
As featured in All Things Business in their February issue.