A Recent Move - Ergo Consulting

Area leased 814m²
Tenant Ergo consulting
New Home 109 Carlton Gore Road, Newmarket
Move date April 2022
Interview with Chris Turney, Jack Stainton and Richard Cuthbert

How long did you stay at your previous premises?

10 years

How far out did you start looking for new office premises? Was it long enough?

We knew some time ago that we wanted to move from our existing premises, but we wanted to stay in the Newmarket area, so it was easy for us to keep an eye on properties in the neighbourhood. We started to look in earnest about 12 months ahead of our lease expiry date. This worked out well. There was a reasonable supply of properties and we looked at several options before settling on Level 1, 109 Carlton Gore Road.

What were the key drivers for your move?

We needed more space; and a better space.

Our old premises had become tired and was Grade C.

We had grown as a company and wanted to move to a Grade B premises, more in keeping with our competitors, many of whom are much larger than Ergo overall but who are very similar size in terms of their electrical power systems teams (Ergo’s focus).

We knew that if Ergo is to continue to punch above its weight and compete, having a bright, attractive and well located office would be critical in attracting the best people.

How did you determine what your future office should look like? Did looking at other sites help?

We knew what our clients’ offices looked like; and also those of some of our competitors and partners. And we were also aware of recent developments in office accommodation standards, particularly as a result of the pandemic and the need to make offices enticing for staff, many of whom had got used to working from home. Having said that, we knew we had to balance the investment. We were never going to be able to afford the highest quality being offered by the most recent wave of offices coming to market, particularly the ‘green’ buildings. Looking at the various offices on the market helped us get a feel for what we could achieve.

Did the move enable you to change the way you are working?

There has not been a massive change in the way we are working, but we are now able to work better. For example:

  • we have more space between our staff (which is also helpful in terms of social distancing)
  • we have more meeting rooms and quiet rooms
  • there are more and improved video conferencing facilities, which will help to cut down on travel and maintain practices that we have developed during
  • the pandemic
  • our lunchroom is much larger, providing not just
  • for day-to-day needs but also for staff meetings and functions
  • the feel of a more relaxed, quieter space assists the general mood of our people.

Do you provide all team members with a fixed desk? Why or why not?

Yes we do. We have the space to do so; and we know from experience that hot desking is not welcomed by most of our staff and is often impractical. We also set up our people so that they can easily work from home if and when needed. Everyone having their own desk values them as an individual – giving them somewhere they can put their children’s photos. However, we provide hot desks for visitors, staff from our other office and contractors.

Activity-based working (ABW) - fad or fabulous? Why?

Probably a fad! As above, we believe that most people enjoy and work better when they have the certainty and security of knowing where they’re going to be working each day. We do however provide options of quiet rooms, bar leaners (e.g. to spread out drawings), meeting spaces and WFH.

We have toyed in the past with moving people around according to what work they are doing, thereby creating project teams. This could lead to more cohesion and better outcomes. But we don’t do this, largely because most of our people work on several projects simultaneously and because most of our projects aren’t large or long enough to justify creating project teams in one part of the office. We believe in building community, which is helped by sitting next to the same people regardless of the project.

Now that you are occupying the new space, how has the feedback been from your team members? What is the biggest change?

Overwhelmingly positive. The changes that they appreciate are the points we’ve identified above. Our new space has good acoustics and insulation, which provides a quiet and quite relaxing environment. The investment in having ‘everything new’ gives a fresh, clean and modern feel, which everyone appreciates. Our old office had become tired and quite cramped.

What piece of furniture has made the most impact with team members and how they work?

Probably not one single piece. Again, the advantages listed above all contribute to the improved environment.

Are end-of-trip facilities becoming more important? Have team members changed the way they are commuting to work because of this?

We don’t think so. There has been no significant change of location – we moved literally across the road from our old office. So people’s commuting habits haven’t changed, apart from more WFH than in the past (pre-pandemic). We now have better bike storage, an on-site gym and more/better shower facilities. But we haven’t noticed a particular change in commuting habits as a result.

What happened to your on-site storage needs? Have they changed? Are you using less paper?

No real change here, though we do now have more storage space and it is better ordered. Site equipment is stored conveniently close to the entrance/exit. A designated secure bike storage area is a big step up. For us, the paperless office will continue to be a pipe dream!

What are some of the things you did right with the fitout?

  • We made a few changes which together have made a big impact on the environment:
  • abandoned our old L shaped desks in favour of straight desks aligned horizontally so that we have a series of work ‘benches’
  • between these benches we have provided bar leaners for lay-off and group work
  • we also bought entirely new furniture, rather than retain existing (even though some of this was still quite new). This ensured a fresh, uniform feel. The choice of white desks for the benches also contributes to the light, bright appearance
  • we enlarged the existing office reception space and entry corridor which opened up the office, making it lighter and more welcoming
  • we retained some small rooms, but otherwise created new meeting rooms to meet our own requirements
  • probably the biggest thing that we got right is the lunch and function room. This is a large space with good units and facilities. The flooring and furniture are to a tasteful colour palette. Overall this space is the ‘wow factor’ of the office.

We hired a specialist fitout company to advise, design and oversee the whole process. And appointed one person, our Operations Manager, to liaise with them and to make decisions. This ensured that the whole process from design, through consenting to fitout and moving in, went smoothly and without delay.

What is the one thing you would do differently with the fitout?

Get professional design advice (and hence spend more) on audio/visual systems. We muddled through by doing this ourselves which was inefficient and meant that we experienced delays in go-live for that aspect.

What is the one piece of advice you would give another company looking to move premises?

Don’t be afraid to spend too much (within the bounds of course of your normal budgeting horizon). It’s worth spending a bit more to get the right location, fitout and environment. Your chances of retaining and attracting talent will improve greatly – and therefore save you money in the long run.