Cambridge Assessment

Kinnarps Cambridge Assessment Final Cut 21.01.15 (Kinnarps Version) from Kinnarps UK on Vimeo.

Top marks as exam board tests new ways of working.

Oxford Cambridge and RSA (OCR) is one of the three examination boards owned by Cambridge Assessment, which itself is a division of Cambridge University. Cambridge Assessment was established over 150 years ago, operating and managing the University's three exam boards and carrying out leading-edge academic and operational research on assessment in education. It is one of the bodies responsible for the execution of GCSE, A level and vocational qualifications in the UK.

With sites in Cambridge, London, Northern Ireland and Coventry, historically Cambridge Assessment’s working environment has been very traditionally based on individual workstations and bookable meeting rooms. They wanted to investigate new ways of working to ensure their staff were given the best possible environment in which to work, creating a pilot ‘agile working space’ in Coventry.

Charlotte Bosworth, Director of Skills & Employment at OCR is based in Coventry and is spearheading the changes. “We wanted to offer the chance to work differently, to create a place that felt like a merge of work and home. The space was designed to inspire creativity and to support our business moving forward,” she says.

“The Creative Space pilot is very much driven by our staff. It was important that they owned the space and knew what it was for. We also knew that we had to work with a furniture supplier who understood the goals and what we were aiming to achieve both with this project and in the long-term view. We visited Kinnarps London showroom where we were able to see how they had brought agile working to life in their own work practices. They immediately grasped what it was we were looking for. They showed us a variety of furniture styles which we were not so familiar with and explained how they could support our thinking. Their design team presented a number of exciting options and we worked together in a true partnership to come to the final proposal.”

 The subsequent design included a number of zones for different types of work.

  • A project room for those longer collaborative sessions where a team need to spread out over a period of time to thrash out new ideas and immerse themselves in a project.
  • A quiet space, focussed on individual work, for employees to come and work alone while looking out on inspiring nature and a sense of calm.
  • For more confidential work or one-to-one style meetings a quiet zone of booths has actually proved most popular for individual contemplative time.
  • That ambience is also carried over to the ‘squiggly sofa’ as it has affectionately been named, where both individual work and 1-2-1 working can happen in a more domestic style setting.
  • Teamwork is catered for by a large collaboration bench – allowing groups to spread out and discuss large documents or timeline charts with everyone able to contribute.
  • When staff want to meet and discuss on an ad-hoc basis there’s a choice of seating heights and styles for less formal get-togethers, which has freed up meeting rooms elsewhere in the building, which were often used for such events.

 “Having seen the 3D presentation that Kinnarps prepared as part of their design proposal, it has been great to see our plans come to fruition and staff enjoying working in the Creative Space,” says Charlotte. “In just a short time the space has proved incredibly popular with staff which gives us great confidence to take it forward and work with Kinnarps to develop the concept further and disseminate the benefits across the Cambridge Assessment Group.”

And Charlotte says the trial has opened many minds to agile working: “I urge anyone who is considering agile working and creating different settings for different styles of work to really really take it on board as we have seen fantastic results with our pilot scheme.”


Project Facts

Year: 2014
Client: Cambridge Assessment
Location: Coventry

Photographs: David Thrower, Redshift Media Tel: +44 (0) 845 071 1055