DAS UK, one of the UK’s leading providers of specialist legal expenses insurance, was planning a move to new premises, to consolidate its legal and insurance divisions, and bring both teams together in a prime spot, overlooking the canal in Bristol.
The company hoped to use the new base as an opportunity to drive a major cultural shift, while positioning DAS UK as a most progressive and forward-thinking company, standing ahead of all its competitors.
The two previous offices were traditional environments that were worn and tired looking. DAS UK was struggling with the available space and was keen to take a radical approach, with designs that would revolutionise the concept of work and the work environment for its staff.
Office Principles worked closely with the team at DAS UK, providing full workplace engagement activity, a programme of change management and a complete turnkey solution.
DAS UK’s new space covers three floors – third, fourth and fifth floors – with the fifth floor providing the entry point and reception and the fourth floor containing the largest floor plate.
Along with the reception on the fifth floor, Office Principles’ designs included a client suite, a hospitality area, client-facing meeting rooms, interview rooms, a collaboration area, and a cosy lounge setting. We installed multiple workstations, a tea point, huddle booths, focus booths, storage facilities and lockers.
The fourth floor consists of quiet rooms, focus rooms, a library, training, and well-being rooms for exercise, including yoga and boxing; shower facilities, breakout and open plan areas, collaboration areas, workstations, a furniture store and a multi-use, central, main café hub. This catered-led facility has a storeroom and self-service areas and there are dining benches, smaller round tables, fridges, and microwaves.
There is a tiered seating area, a graffiti wall, a curved window seat and a mix of workspaces to enable individuals to access a wide choice of settings. With finance, client services and technology teams working in neighbourhoods and community hubs, the design allows for free flow and optimum connectivity.
DAS UK was keen to ensure that the new office was a supportive environment to all colleagues and particular attention was paid to feedback received from the company’s various diversity and inclusion networks.
For example, the third floor comprises a breakout area, new mother room, a multi-faith room, workstations, providing neighbourhoods for Customer & Legal Solutions support departments; quiet rooms, meeting rooms, huddle booths, collaboration areas, project zones, a first aid room, a storeroom, and a communications room. All complimented by careful consideration to a detailed design that would support accessibility for all.
Workshops were undertaken to explain workplace utilisation and to cover various specific aspects of the new office.
All IT work was completed at the outset, including work to the third-floor comms room, to enable workers to gain initial access to the third floor. Although the original plan was to drive a phased programme of activity, all work was undertaken at the same time to allow for a swifter turnaround.
We delivered full M&E installation including services relocation, underfloor electrics, and contemporary feature lighting. The team worked closely with, Baxter Storey, the catering provider in charge of the general subsidised café space.
Colours have been kept neutral, with a subtle base palette and the use of woods and natural textures. Biophilic design has been incorporated, with small potted plants and a living wall feature.
Soft and curved shaped furniture helps to create inviting environments and supports the flexibility of the overall design. There is a mix of industrial and skandi features, with non-traditional furniture encouraging informal meetings and high and low-level tables offering varied working positions.
Graphics and artwork were used to engage the staff. All employees were invited to contribute to meeting room names, sayings on café walls and graffiti in the tiered seating area. By opening the visuals up to public opinion, all workers were given a voice, and this is reflected in the energy and creativity on the walls.
DAS UK entered the process with a great mindset. They wanted to dispose of any potential hierarchy between teams, providing everyone with access to the same inspiring settings and facilities; creating a space that would resonate as a space for everyone. We were keen to make sure that the end result would stand out and be specific to DAS, providing an enviable environment that would play a key role in recruitment and retention. I believe that, by working closely with the client, we have created a progressive space that sets the brand apart.
We set out to offer our teams a fresh, innovative environment that would bring them together and one which they could be proud of. The overall design of the space, and the furniture selected, contribute to a sense that this is an office for everyone. Our staff members are now empowered to choose how and where they work; selecting and changing their settings according to the task in hand and enjoying better connectivity as a result of a less restrictive, more fluid way of working.