Every November, some of the world’s biggest brands, in fashion, media, tech and more, open their doors for Workplace Week London. The event gives attendees an opportunity to walk through spaces that represent the pinnacle of workplace design and experience. Simon Iatrou reviews the standout tours from 2019.
Workplace Week London is a philanthropic event that showcases the UK capital’s most exciting and forward-thinking workspaces. Money raised by the tours goes to Children in Need, a British charity and annual telethon that helps disadvantaged young people in the UK and the rest of the world.
Now in its ninth year, the week-long program is organized by workplace change consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA). AWA’s founder and leader, Andrew Mawson, explains that its objective is to “open people’s eyes to new thinking on ways of working, workplace design and technology.”
The 2019 event did that and more. This year’s tours revealed that there is a leading group of organizations using their workplace as a tool to bring culture to life, empower employees and reimaging what work means.
The London head office of world-famous shoe company Dr Martens celebrates the brand’s close ties with counterculture and what it calls “rebellious self-expression.” The building is located in Camden, a neighborhood that is synonymous with alternative music. Inside, the space features an amp wall, a drum kit, a stage and framed records that list the company’s values.
Corporate branding is fundamental to the workplace strategy here. Elements that are unmistakably Dr Martens can be found throughout the office. The yellow stitching that adorns each shoe is represented by rows of yellow lights. The iconic yellow cross logo is emblazoned on the reception desk and doorways. The tread design that makes Dr Martens boots resilient is replicated in the edge of the stairways. Together with yoga classes, financial wellbeing workshops, lunch n’ learns, and parties on a roof terrace that overlooks Camden lock, the aim is to keep Dr Martens employees engaged, inspired and ultimately “on brand.”
Work, travel, save, repeat
Skyscanner is one of the world’s largest online travel companies, a fact that employees and visitors are constantly reminded of in its West London HQ. The space is replete with globes, model airplanes, cockpit cabins and Japanese-style micro hotel pods that support virtual meetings between the organization’s global teams.
Through its website and mobile app, Skyscanner helps people to find the best deals on flights. But its stated mission to help people travel the world doesn’t stop at its customers. Every employee is given two weeks a year to work in any Skyscanner office around the world. And when they get there, employees can access an IT self-service desk that ensures they are up and running and connected to the rest of the world in no time.
Skyscanner’s London workplace was ranked by Glassdoor as one of London’s ‘Coolest Office Spaces in 2018.’
Having experienced incredible growth in just six years, popular online food delivery company Deliveroo now employs more than 1,000 full-time staff and operates out of 130 cities across the globe. Following that incredible growth, the start-up moved into its current headquarters beside the River Thames in 2017.
The space includes everything one might expect from a trendy tech start-up. There are ping pong tables, beer fridges, caffeine stations and an on-site gym. But these features aren’t just for show. Deliveroo’s workforce is younger than most and every decision is made with that fact in mind. Work in the company’s HQ begins at 10am and finishes at 6pm.
Between 2016 and the end of 2018, LinkedIn grew from 467 million users to 590 million. Such rapid growth is something that the web giant must consider in all of its locations. The London workplace, in London’s Farringdon neighborhood, houses 340 employees but has been designed to eventually accommodate 500.
To help manage that growth, LinkedIn’s workplace strategy focuses on building a community in and outside its walls. Much like Deliveroo, there is free access to a gym, personal trainers, baristas, a wellness room, prayer room and parents room. Meanwhile, LinkedIn has engaged with local artists to design a space that pays homage to the UK capital including bathroom tiles that capture a typical London pub aesthetic.
Through this seven-floor space, pens are left to next to blank canvases so that people can add a personal touch to the workplace as they meander through the space. Everything is about creating a deeper sense of home.
Digital marketing agency Jellyfish occupies floors 22 and 28 of The Shard, Britain’s tallest skyscraper. The lower floor features an activity-based space with meeting rooms, an agile seating area, and a bar with panoramic views of London. The upper floor includes another 10,000 square feet of space for Jellyfish’s growing data analytics team and a number of training suites.
One thing that separated Jellyfish from other tours at this year’s Workplace Week London is its use of brand. The company made a conscious decision to leave its own branding out of much of The Shard. As a global marketing agency, the company wanted to demonstrate its versatility and creativity by creating a range of designs and materials such as wood and stainless steel.
In 2020, Workplace Week London will celebrate its 10th birthday with more visitors and new tours. The event’s continued success has given AWA the impetus to stretch its vision into new regions. Workplace Week New York opened its partners’ doors for a second time this summer, offering tours to the offices of PwC, Viacom, Shutterstock and MetLife, while plans for next year’s event are already in motion.
For Mawson, however, this represents only the beginning. “We are having ongoing discussions with various interested parties in America – Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle – as well as other places in Europe,” he says. “We will work with anyone around the world who wants to take on the idea, and we can offer guidance and the framework to drive it forward. But the principals remain the same: the event has to open people’s eyes and stimulate workplace innovation, but it also has to give something back to the children. So, if anyone’s interested in joining forces, get in touch.”