Making customers a stakeholder group in our new office
The pandemic has created a rethink of day-to-day operations, and for many businesses and organisations this has caused a significant reappraisal of the arrangements for mixing home and office working.
At Whitespace, as we planned the relocation of our business to new premises, the quest was the same as that faced by tens of thousands of other businesses.
There is a need to bring together the interests of the key stakeholders, that is the business and its employees. There is a need to maximise productivity by providing employees a good working environment and a life-work balance that works for both sides.
However, there is another stakeholder group that often gets left behind in the calculations… Customers!
Our leadership team had a significant desire to use the office move as an opportunity to create an environment where it was easier and generally more conducive to collaborating with customers.
Firstly, there was the question of location. Originally based in quite a rural spot, we wanted to move to a more centrally located business district. This would put the office in an area with better road and public transport links, to make us more accessible.
Secondly, there was a lot of thought given over to how the office should be organised to optimise the customer facing area and the working areas for the rest of our business activities.
Thirdly, there was the question of how best to create a space that was optimised for customer interaction, whether that was for the purposes of signing up new customers to the solutions we provide, for project consultations with existing customers, or for training and knowledge transfer activities.
Delivering the vision for a post-pandemic office
The new location is in Godalming in Surrey. There is a lot of surplus office space for hire, and it would have been easy to sign up for some soul-less ‘oven-ready’ grey office block, but for obvious reasons, a building with altogether nicer residuals and in a more attractive location was preferred.
It did, however, need some TLC to bring it up to a standard that would match the vision for a post-pandemic office. The budget is very much seen as an investment, in both the local area as well as the future of Whitespace Work Software as a business.
Within easy walking distance of the River Wey and close to hospitality and other local businesses, the location is attractive to employees and customers alike, as it is very convenient for getting a change of scenery and a breather when appropriate.
The premises are within a 10 minute walk of Godalming train station, served by South Western Railway out of Waterloo. For road travellers it is close to the A3 and the M25 and there is more than enough parking.
To create separate working areas for customer facing activities and internal operations the solution was simple. With 4000 sq. ft. organised across two floors, we now have double the space of the old offices. The ground floor is allocated to meeting the needs of customers, while the first floor is mostly for internal company activity.
A space designed for customer engagement and collaboration
With half the premises given over to facing customers, and a significant refit needed, there was something of a large blank canvas to play with for the office move project.
We’ve invested heavily to create the feel of a mini Starbucks on site. We call it a drop in space for customers to come in ad-hoc, grab a coffee and have a conversation without formality, and the delay of waiting for slots where we can book meeting rooms.
For more structured activity we have also got two state of the art meeting rooms, kitted out with the latest high tech Zoom and Teams facilities. Size-wise, they put a lot of board rooms to shame, having ample space to host 20 people in each.
In the internal work space upstairs we have more meeting rooms. Despite designating it as a working area mainly for internal activity, we are also happy to host customers for smaller meetings.
To meet our vision for flexible working, our staff can make the decision to come in based on the idea of being where they need to be to be most productive. Customers can also come in, bring their laptop and work alongside our team to receive training.
Again we have adopted a coffee shop approach to create a flexible environment. We’ve bought more space than we need, so employees don’t come in to find every desk is taken.
As we’ve also taken the opportunity to regenerate by substantially renovating the building to make a brilliant space – a sow’s ear into a silk purse – this alone generates a desire to come into the office.
The door is always open to help local authorities at Whitespace
For local authorities seeking solutions to help them unlock efficiency, the door is always open at Whitespace Work Software and the team is now more easily accessible than ever. Should you want to discuss your needs and how our solutions could be applied to help your local government organisation deliver public services more efficiently, why not come and visit us?
Simply get in touch to let us know you want to come in and we’ll make the arrangements. To see what Whitespace Work Software could do for your local government services, book your free Whitespace demo to see how our software works.