Identitaet London watches how the screen is adjusted

M Moser, London

In 2017, M Moser's London office moved to a new location to support growth in the European market. At the same time, the workforce was increased by 50% over a period of three years, while operational requirements changed.

Creating a space that reflects the brand, attracts new talent and builds on a strong team culture were key goals. The office was conceived as a "living laboratory" to test workplace solutions for the future offices of the customers.

The well-being of the employees and the sustainability aspect were prioritized from the start. The office received WELL, LEED and RESET certification. However, after February 2020, health standards had to be further raised and the room converted into a COVID-safe environment for employees to return to in June.

This project story discusses the original design and shows how it was adapted to allow employees to return to the office safely and cost-effectively.

Key highlights

  1. The pilot test before the office move allowed the team to study a variety of workplace strategies for the new interior design.
  2. Thanks to flexible working solutions, the occupancy could be increased by up to 50% within three years.
  3. The space was adapted to counter virus transmission and to create a COVID-safe environment.
  4. The team is currently considering how the space will be used for the remaining one-year rental period in order to strike a balance between the employees working from home and the needs of group collaboration.

The workplace strategy pilot

Before the move, the team piloted a number of rooms to explore ideas for the new workplace design. Over a period of six months, it became a place where new forms of collaboration were tested.

Since the circulation was restricted due to a triangular floor slab, the previous office was redesigned as a "sociable workplace". Some desks have been replaced with a collaboration room made inexpensively from makeshift materials.

A significant change in behavior was observed, with collaboration across all ranks and teams.

Reflect brand identity and corporate culture

Visitors are received in an energetic entrance area, which consists of a social kitchen and a material library. By dispensing with a dedicated reception area, the space appears friendly and indicates flat structures - where all employees are encouraged to greet guests. In order to keep the interruption of work as low as possible, the transition to the work area is clearly defined by a goal frame.

Richard Fisher, Senior Associate - Design, explains:"A communal area in which one stands activates interaction. The Social Tea Point also serves as a spacious event room with a pull-down projector. It offers visibility beyond the open plan and promotes an accessible culture and working method." 

Increased commitment to brands

When passing through the archway that frames the main office, visitors experience a compelling 20,000 pencil art installation that reflects the brand's visual identity.

"The London team spent just under two hoursadd orange pens to mark the room. This memorable trait puts culture at the heart of the workplace "says Charlie Millard, Head of Europe.

Return to work after lockdown

The strategy team took a safety-first approach and created a survey to understand employee concerns. The study identified individual health risks, upgrade needs, home office conditions and personal preferences.

The data served as the basis for the re-entry strategy, which resulted in a series of carefully considered health and safety measures and a gradual return to the office. Phase one includes 20% office occupancy, 37% in phase two.

The motivation was to allow those who could not work effectively from home to return to the office safely. A risk profile was developed for each person, which helped prioritize the re-entry phase and collaborative activities within the room.

"In order to make it easier for people to find their way around the room, we have developed a signage system that clearly identifies all necessary changes in behavior. It directs circulation, informs staff about which areas can be used and points out any risks.", explains Frances Gain - Workplace Strategy - Europe.

Look at you here take the 3D pano tour of the original office design with COVID-safe features.

Designing COVID-safe rooms

The creation of a COVID-safe office required adjustments to the workplace design as well as changes in behavior. Employees are required to keep a distance of 2m at all times, and a clockwise circular path minimizes contact with others. These measures are continuously evaluated in accordance with government guidelines.

The ultraviolet lamps installed in the air conditioners use UV-C radiation to reduce the transmission of infectious diseases through the air. The HVAC system, which previously focused on delivering fresh air per person, is now set up to create positive and negative pressure differentials from clean to less clean areas.

There are more sanitary stations in "high-touch" areas, including staff lockers, printing areas and screens for video conferencing.

The increased use of digital platforms creates a balance between internal collaboration and the need for community engagement, which is particularly important when new employees are to be integrated into the larger team.

Rethink how the office will be used in the future

The team will try new ways of using the space when the lockdown is loosened. With the lease running for another year, extensive modifications are not a cost-effective solution and further growth is limited by lower occupancy. Instead, it will be important to define a clearer intent for visiting the office.

Expanded, flexible work guidelines allow more work from home in the future. The main function of the office will shift towards collaboration and brainstorming. Based on this assumption, the need for desks will be permanently reduced, but employees will be able to flow in and out of the office as needed.