City & Guilds

City & Guilds: Champions of the Effective Workplace

When world-leading, vocational education expert, City & Guilds, (C&G) created its ideal working environment in a new build, six storey Headquarters building, in the City of London, it chose Kinnarps to provide the furniture and support the interior design process.

Built behind a preserved 1920s façade, the new building champions C&G’s sustainable building policy, with a range of environmentally responsible initiatives, coupled with a desire to align to an overarching organisational objective - meeting the needs of the modern workplace - by unlocking the potential in its own staff.  C&G wanted a furniture partner that  could match its  sustainability credentials and prove it  was forward-thinking in terms of new ways of working and creating a workspace fit for purpose.

We were delighted to demonstrate our ‘green credentials’ – attributes that have led to Kinnarps becoming the preferred furniture expert of environmental standard bearers, such as the IUCN, World Wildlife Fund and the Environment Agency.

Our designers worked with C&G’s facilities team to create a modern, flexible workplace, which allows people to work more effectively, in an agile environment that adapts to suit the task in hand.  In essence, C&G has embraced our ‘Next Office’ approach to activity based working, offering a variety of settings which are customised for different tasks, activities and work modes. There are places for people to concentrate, to contemplate and to collaborate effectively.

As C&G’s Group Property Manager Gillian Thurtle explains, the hands on approach, which included  a pilot scheme, helped to get the staff on board with the proposed plans.  ‘Kinnarps’s design team supplied us with mood boards and layout drawings, which we had on display in our offices throughout  the project. People were able to see what the new offices would look like, but having the opportunity to actually try the new workspace for themselves  made a huge difference.  It quickly overcame people’s concerns  and once people had actually seen the pilot scheme, it became clear that we would all have plenty of space to work, effective storage and lots of options for both formal and impromptu meetings.’

City & Guilds also wanted an environment that was flexible enough to accommodate expansion, but one that would create a forward shift in working culture and convey the energy and excitement of the organisation.  So, our design team worked with them to create a vibrant palette, rolled out across floors, with open plan areas, ten-person, six-person and four-person meeting rooms, an open plan meeting space and quiet booths, (for making confidential calls or one-to-one meetings), all providing a wealth of agile working options. 

The ground floor is furnished with easily foldable tables and stackable chairs, which provide swiftly adaptable space for London staff and a valuable resource for C&G’s many visiting team members.  The coloured themes continue here, in areas such as the common room and café area, where staff from all departments meet, mingle and hold social events.

C&G has moved from an outdated workspace to a leaner more efficient use of space, where agility and variety are championed.  ‘It’s interesting to see how people are adapting to the new working style’ observes Gillian. ‘It is going well and behaviour is certainly changing. People are learning that it is OK to move away from their desks and that we are encouraging them to work in different ways, according to the nature of the work they are doing. ’

‘Now we’ve seen the difference it makes,  we can’t wait to bring the rest of our London workspace up to the standard of the new building and to see the rest of our London team enjoy thriving in an inspiring, agile working environment.’ Gillian concludes.

Project Facts

Year: 2014
Client: City & Guilds
Location: London

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