Outdated, overcrowded and in need of a significant overhaul, Saxon Weald House had seen up to 130 desks crammed into a building designed for only half that amount.

Last refurbished more than 20 years ago, it was a situation that Saxon Weald’s leadership team wanted to change and like many organisations, the pandemic proved to be the catalyst for kickstarting the process.

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Hybrid workplace for Saxon Weald

Office Principles was chosen to deliver a transformational change programme, following a competitive tendering process.

We’ve designed and delivered an entirely remodelled and reimagined workplace; one that has industry-leading environmental credentials and is flexible enough to offer a unique experience for employees and customers alike.

Saxon Weald is a housing association that manages almost 7,000 rented and shared ownership homes for individuals and families across Sussex and Hampshire. Through Weald Living it also provides properties for outright sale, shared ownership and private market rent across the region.

It is an organisation which puts people and communities at the very heart of everything it does. As a charitable Community Benefit Society, Saxon Weald reinvests the money it generates through rent in the management, maintenance and building of homes.

Overview

Saxon Weald’s management team were committed to delivering a new head office space with an agile working ethos, where flexible working was encouraged and employees would want to work.

The initial brief had three key requirements:

  • Great customer experience
  • Be a great place to work
  • Value for money and be financially sound

While those objectives would remain at the very heart of our design, Saxon Weald was not afraid to embrace change. A positive working relationship and a partnership ethos enabled us to challenge the original brief in ways that continually enhanced the design.

Central to that design concept was the client’s robust sustainability and carbon offsetting targets, which helped shape the selection of sustainable materials and energy saving measures.

Collaboration would also be a crucial ingredient of a project in which Saxon Weald’s employees were closely involved at all stages.

That included a comprehensive workplace consultancy piece to better understand the psychology of the workforce and its future requirements, as well as regular employee site visits. Immersive 3D Matterport models of the workplace were also created, which allowed users to engage with the space before it was completed.

The delivery of a more collaborative, communicative environment was a huge step change from the traditional office space that had been in existence at Saxon Weald House for more than two decades.

Delivery the necessary efficiencies in space and energy consumption, would require a remodelling of the building and a complete strip out to shell and core.

We would not only have to negotiate several discoveries within the building, we would also have to contend with the pandemic and material shortages during the project.

Project completion

We have successfully delivered a modern, hybrid workspace that is driven by and focused on user experience, and facilitates Saxon Weald’s adoption of agile working practices.

It features a combination of purpose built spaces for both collaborative and concentrated work, with a new, larger meeting forum, areas for extensive in-house training and a central café-style eating area to promote social gathering and employee wellbeing.

Using specialist acoustic consultants employed has ensured appropriate levels of sound absorption, enabling virtual and face-to-face meetings that optimise user experience.

Visitors to the new space benefit from a more inclusive layout that has been informed by the neurodiversity needs of Saxon Weald’s staff and customer base. All tea points and break out areas are fully accessible, a new lift has been installed to aid movement between all three floors and there are new toilet spaces throughout.

Bright wall branding and messaging contrast with an earthy, calming colour palette, while soft finishes and organic shaped furniture allow users to flow around the spaces.

The project has achieved a SKA gold rating for prioritising sustainability in its design, which includes the use of biophilia across the space, including a large living wall, as well as a display in the reception area to monitor energy consumption and savings within the building.

Externally, there is a new glazed canopy at the main entrance to the building with a new sustainable sourced wooden frontage, additional window space, bespoke ductwork and photovoltaic roof panels. Seven new EV charging points have been installed at the rear of the building, as well as a new car park barrier and speed ramp.

The project was delivered by Office Principles in partnership with Saxon Weald and a network of supply chain partners and spanned 11 months in total.

Saxon Weald asked us to create a workplace that has a purpose and delivers an experience, and we’re thrilled to have achieved that. It has been a project we’ve very much delivered together, in partnership. Saxon Weald’s expectations were pragmatic and realistic throughout and as our business values are very much aligned, we were able to overcome several challenges, most notably the remote delivery of almost all preparatory work due to the pandemic. It’s a remarkable project on behalf of a remarkable team of people and we’re pleased to see how positively Saxon Weald has embraced the new workspace.

Stephen Parsons

Managing Director of Office Principles

The Office Principles team has been dedicated to delivering what we wanted to achieve and provided great advice as to what was possible. They have guided us throughout the process, from working with our staff groups to understand what the requirements were, all the way through to the completion of the design process. The whole team has been exceptional in providing us with a really first rate outcome which is perfect for us. I couldn’t be more positive.

Steven Dennis

Chief Executive of Saxon Weald