The science of agile working

Kinnarps’s longstanding client, Syngenta, is a leading, global agrochemical and seed company, with around 25,000 employees worldwide. Its primary role is in helping farmers to increase their yields and protect their crops, all around the world.  Syngenta’s largest research and development site, based at Jealott’s Hill, in Berkshire, recently undertook an office refurbishment project in one of their campus buildings, where agile working was a key factor in the success of the working space.  

Changes in working practices demanded a transition from a primarily laboratory-based and cellular office set up, which had been fragmented across the site, to a cohesive, open plan, agile workplace where staff have the right environments to work effectively, according to the task in hand.

Kinnarps worked with Syngenta and Ten Design to create an agile workplace environment which reflected its Next OfficeTM concept.  The approach designs the workspace to meet its users’ needs and focuses on the ‘Three Cs’ principles of generic work styles: concentration, collaboration and contemplation. Next Office is based on an approach researched and developed by Professor Jeremy Myerson, (Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art), and is espoused in Kinnarps’s own Clerkenwell workspace.  Following these principals, the teams working in the building have been migrated to a shared working environment, which includes pods of six workstations, collaborative meeting rooms, break out spaces and quiet areas.

There is only so much you can derive from a catalogue or website about the performance and durability of furniture and so the Syngenta office design team found it incredibly useful to visit Kinnarps’s London headquarters building; (which is both a showroom and a fully functioning office) to see exactly how agile working manifests in workplace design. People that were moving into the newly refurbished offices could see exactly what they would be getting and how flexible it can be.

The people moving into the new offices have highly technical jobs, which demand long periods of intense concentration. They also have to liaise with each other and many third parties to ensure that Syngenta products are rigorously tested, safe for both people and the environment, and meet all the required standards for registration.  The teams used to be spread across the site, working in different buildings, which made effective working a challenge. Now, the teams are located in one space, where they have the perfect environment for frequent communication and collaboration. Importantly, the workspace  also provides them with the quiet, contemplative and concentration  spaces they value so highly.

To assist Syngenta in communicating the benefits of the new working style to its staff, Kinnarps installed a demonstration suite, so that team members could see what was proposed and try the furniture out for themselves.  Constructive feedback meant that Kinnarps was able to adapt and refine the solution, until it perfectly met the needs of the people who would be using it.  Modifications included the development of variable height screens between adjoining workstations, so people could control their own levels of privacy, and the provision of additional storage to allow them to keep their many technical journals to hand.

Syngenta is pleased that Kinnarps has more than met the challenges set and values our robust and reliable products, underpinned with excellent after-sales service. We offer a wide product range; but from a one-stop shop, because lead times, cost-efficiency and delivery capacity are crucial.  For a large site like Syngenta, this is very important. Having a huge amount of churn, Syngenta needs to have reliable service, whether it’s on a big project or a small issue like a broken chair or a dented filing cabinet.  Primarily, Syngenta needed a contractor they knew they could rely on.

The installation went very smoothly, and together, we achieved a significant installation in a very short time. Full installation was achieved in less than four days, allowing Syngenta to move 90 people into their new working environment with minimum disruption.

 The Feedback from Syngenta staff has already been very favourable and they have taken to the new set up like ducks to water!

Project Facts

Year: 2014
Client: Syngenta
Location: Bracknell

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