CAE engaged Woodhouse to design their brand new headquarters in Hemel Hempstead. As well as an office space for 180 resident and visiting staff, this space was to be the main location for meeting clients and demonstrating what CAE does best: a case study for technology as soon as a visitor crosses the threshold.
Richard Behan (Chief Corporate Development Officer) and Aggrey Lutta (Culture Director) at CAE give some insights on their new workspace, and how it has really enhanced their culture.
To achieve a workspace with the wow factor, Woodhouse recommended implementing its workspace strategy. This is a four-stage model that provides a roadmap to an optimised workspace that suits each individual organisation. The four stages are: strategy, design, delivery and evaluation.
The first stage of the process gathers data on how space is used and then identifies what future requirements will best support the needs of the business. Woodhouse engaged with staff and senior managers to determine the current experience and gauge where they would like to see the workplace improve.
- We undertook interviews with key stakeholders to further understand strategic direction, current challenges and foreseeable challenges.
- Team workshops were used to collect information on different teams’ activities, how they interact in the workplace and preferences for the future.
- We also conducted an online survey asking staff about their current working patterns and how they would like to work going forward.
After the initial phase we had enough information to start developing the future workspace strategy and a project plan. Our research showed that staff felt there was a strong, positive culture at CAE, but that they would value more opportunities to collaborate and interact with different teams on a professional and social level.
At the same time, the research also showed that many found the current open plan environment too noisy. There was a strong demand from most teams to be more flexible in where they sit and to be able to sit and mix with other teams. It was also clear from the research that provision needed to be made for a significant number of staff who worked in the field or at other offices. They needed hassle-free spaces to work when they visited and to be able collaborate with colleagues.
Using this information, we designed concepts for the different work typologies and created 3D computerised walkthroughs (as shown below) to really start scoping out how the different workspace typologies would fit together in the new CAE building. We worked closely with the CAE project team to develop and deliver a space that would really work for them.
A home for the CAE family
The end result is a stand-out showcase for CAE the brand and CAE the home. Visitors step into an open reception area with a light-filled atrium connecting the ground floor to the first floor. Exposed ductwork and crittal windows give a modern industrial vibe, softened with planting and pale timber tones.
A stunning tiered seating installation sits at the centre of this area. Viewed as the heart of CAE, this space is ideal for informal ‘town hall’ meetings or receptions and larger events that bring the whole CAE team together. Outside of these times, staff use this area much like people would use town hall steps on a warm summer’s day – for a quiet coffee, a quick telephone chat or a catch-up with work friends.
A coffee bar with a relaxed seating area sits to the side, with a bar-style games room to the rear, providing ample opportunity for staff to mingle.
Privacy booths and video conference booths allow for one-to-one calls and meetings and library areas enable staff to take themselves away from the everyday bustle when needed, to work quietly and without interruption.
Collaboration areas have been designed so that teams can make a noise without fear of disturbing others and harness team energy to brainstorm at white boards.
Open-plan areas are used cleverly to enable teams that work closely together to easily collaborate. Planting is used for a tranquil and engaging setting whilst helping to naturally divide space so that it doesn’t feel too exposed.
The client areas demonstrate what CAE does best and are designed so that staff can proudly show visitors around. Equipment-configuration areas are places of precision – clean, clinical and organised. The service desk is a hi-tech hive of activity with live screens showing activity levels and status updates.
The end result of this project is a bustling destination workspace which offers staff a variety of different options in which to collaborate, create, concentrate or simply just be. It is a showcase of the CAE brand and a home in which the CAE family can thrive.