A home from home for Petplan
Petplan is the UK’s biggest pet insurer, renowned for their customer service towards animals as well as people. So when parent company Allianz commissioned Woodhouse to fit out Petplan’s new headquarters at Botanica, Ditton Park, we knew that it was going to be a fun project, putting animals right at the heart of the business.
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Woodhouse spent some time collaborating closely with members of the client brand team to create a very tailored design that maximised health and wellbeing principles. Petplan wanted a people-and-pet centric space that expressed their love of animals – one that was ‘energetic, bright, brave and bold’. This was not to be a standard corporate office, but more a home from home. Our design team chose every fixture accordingly to tie it all together – jewel tones, natural planting, rustic textures and tactile finishes to accentuate a homely ambience.
Clearly, pets were going to feature prominently across the design. Within the office there is a designated dog-friendly open-plan space with dog beds incorporated into it – the staff’s dogs really are part of the team! On the practical side, the flooring has been chosen carefully – robust and easy-to-clean luxury vinyl tile, and carpet which absorbs dust, keeping the space dust free. A dog kit room contains a shower, washing machine and tumble dryer.
There is also a dog-free open plan area for those with allergies or who don’t want dogs around, but with a glass partition to retain a sense of team connection with the main area. There is also a wellbeing / prayer room to provide a quiet, calm space when needed.
In keeping with the wider surroundings of the rural Surrey location, together with the client team’s desire to have health and wellbeing in mind throughout the space, Woodhouse incorporated lots of biophilia within the design and made full use of the building’s excellent natural light. Themed names have been assigned to meeting rooms and collaboration spaces, for example ‘Cattery’, ‘Hutch’ and ‘Stable’. Each room’s design suits its name, reflected through fun wall graphics.
Rather than focusing solely on their own branding in the design, Petplan wanted to make their partners feel as much a part of it. The ‘Pet Centre of Excellence’ wall features the names of all their partners, as well as pictures of all the employees’ pets, lending a real feeling of community to the space. A nice inclusive touch is having accessible tea points, so that all employees have the same opportunities to prepare food and socialise together.
Petplan operates on a hybrid working model with a 1:3 desk ratio, so the main reason for staff coming into the office is to work together. Collaboration areas and meeting rooms are therefore key spaces within the design. We made these spaces varied and flexible, providing a choice between formal and informal, open or more intimate. Meeting rooms can be sized up or down using movable dividers, and AV equipment and whiteboards can be easily moved around for impromptu meetings.
The finished space is inspiring and engaging, bursting with personality without impinging on the smooth function of a busy office. It truly is ‘energetic, bright, brave and bold’.
This project is the jewel in the crown of our UK business, and has set the standard. It doesn’t feel like an office, it’s incredibly personal. The days of an office where you come for eight hours and go home are gone. I want people to be happy at work.