Land Securities is the largest listed commercial property company in the UK and has around 600 employees, including 400 in London. A few years ago, staff feedback told us that our historical head office, located on the Strand in Central London, was no longer fit for purpose.
Despite being spacious and based in a premium location, the setup meant that employees were spread over eight floors, and had developed a silo mentality. Employees also felt that our head office did not showcase our expertise, nor reflect our position as one of the leading property companies in the country. We are very proud of the great office and retail space we provide our customers, and understand better than anyone the huge benefits that the right office space brings to a business in terms of health and wellbeing, increased productivity, and attracting and retaining talented people.
It became clear that if we wanted to work together as one company and continue to live our values, we needed a new inspiring head office, owned by us, that would support employee pride in what we do – as well as more innovative ways of working.
Allowing flexible working
The office move was the opportunity to revisit our whole people proposition. Our ambition was to create an innovative, shared working environment in which collaboration can thrive. This involves encouraging activity-based working, where staff can decide how, when and where they work depending on their requirements.
Our new office space is across one floor, with our 400 staff members encouraged to not restrict themselves to sitting in one place all day. The open-plan has been broken into ‘neighbourhoods’, each of which has various collaboration spaces, breakout areas and the latest technology. Within the shared space, we have introduced a space for quiet working, an IT support bar and the social hub. Whatever task it is that you need to do, we have a space designed to support it.
To support flexible working, we have introduced a range of new technology, through Office 365 and Surface Pros, which started to be rolled out to employees before the office move and enables employees to be more agile in the way they work.
The office move was in response to employee feedback so there hasn’t been much resistance to it. Describing how it would help us operate as one company and showcase one of our own buildings was a straightforward sell.
Our main challenge was to ensure that employees would embrace the desired ways of working and new technology from the start. Change doesn’t come easily to everyone and to help people understand what this meant for them we had to help them visualise what changes we were going to introduce and what benefits it would bring to them personally. This meant communicating a huge amount of information and messages, on top of all the day-to-day communication that our employees were already exposed to.
To avoid monopolising communications, we pulled together all the information under a single campaign banner called ‘Making the Move’ and we established a visual identity to easily identify all office-related communications.
To ensure we were communicating on the relevant messages at the right time, we created a ‘Move’ committee with representatives from HR, IT, Facilities and Engineering to speak for our people, our technology, and our space. We met weekly to review our progress and identify what we needed to communicate, such as training or technology roll out timelines. It was fundamental to have an overarching move plan, with a clear focus each month.
This programme meant we could be more creative and innovative with our communications. The ‘Making the Move’ visual identity was used to create materials such as infographics, an interactive PDF and Prezi presentations where the employee journey was mapped out month-by-month.
We mapped out the people proposition, which looked at the principles by which we wanted to operate in the new space, in an interactive PDF. This allowed us to translate what otherwise would have been a 5-page document into a visual, digestible and easy to navigate interactive document covering: ways of working, dress code, technology, travel, and health and wellbeing.
From early in the process we introduced a Change Champions network, made up of representatives from every part of the business. Champions’ responsibilities included feeding information to their colleagues but, most importantly, they were also tasked with getting feedback from colleagues on every aspect of the office move. This helped us stay on the pulse of the organisation – avoiding general corporate messages and shaping messages based on how people were feeling about different elements of our communications at different times.
The Change Champions also became our pilot group. They were early adopters of the new technology, not only so they could promote the benefits, but also so we could test it and fix any bugs, before it was rolled out to the whole business. They also helped us think through our employees’ needs in terms of collaboration spaces and equipment. They influenced much more than our communications; we embedded their feedback into our whole thinking and planning.
Closer to the date of the office move, they led familiarisation visits to take staff to the new space and help them understand what it was going to be like so everyone could hit the ground running from day one.
In parallel, we set up a Yammer group where people could ask questions and a dedicated intranet space where they could access all information. Consulting the staff the whole way through has made a real difference. We have taken them on a journey, responding to their feedback and continuously communicating with them every step of the way.
We successfully moved into the new office in January, and getting used to the new space and ways of working has taken some adjustment. However, it’s amazing to see how quickly people have adapted – all our collaboration spaces are buzzing with people around the clock. Gone are the days when people were tied to their desk or locked in a meeting room. It’s great to see.
Now we need to focus on reinforcing the new ways of working. We have allowed time for people to acclimatise and get used to the new space, to have a play with the new technology and feel comfortable. However, we are planning to do a 100-day review to see how far employees are on the journey, and introduce new improvements where needed. For now, we are keeping the Change Champions network in place to understand what staff like and what they may be struggling with.
Digital signage is a big feature in our new office. It’s a great new communication channel and is keeping me busy. We have around 30 screens across our floorplate and the amount of content required to keep them engaging is phenomenal – it’s certainly a learning curve. So far so good – staff seem to love them.
I have worked on large-scale transformation and change projects in the past, but this particular project has been a level above, thanks to some very talented individuals on the project and the level of commitment of the company. The amount of attention, resource and freedom I have been given has allowed me to hand-hold people every step of the way and to be extremely innovative and creative with communications – and ultimately to achieve a very rewarding result.
Laura Jamieson took over Land Securities’ Internal Communications function last year. She has a decade’s experience working on strategic internal and external communication campaigns for a variety of industries. She has specialised in IC for the past six years, developing and delivering impactful communications with a strategic focus.