With a variety of cool informal breakout settings, coffee bar and a healthy buzz throughout, if we didn’t know any better, we could easily be forgiven for thinking we’ve just walked into the new working home of a leading ad agency or tech business.
We’re in the impressive Helicon building in the City of London at the new home of CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accounting). The world’s largest and leading professional body of management accountants, CIMA’s mission is to help people and businesses to succeed in the public and private sectors.
The institute has more than 227,000 members and students in 179 countries and works at the heart of business in industry, commerce and not for profit organisations.
Indeed, it has seized the opportunity to completely transform its brand, culture, IT systems and tools, along with how it works, collaborates and uses space. Judging by the bright, open and contemporary settings we find at the very front of the space,
that opportunity has clearly been grabbed with both hands.
We meet with Dereck Dziva, CIMA’s Workplace Performance Manager, and iDEA’s Chris Ager, who are happy to show us around the rest of the space and tell us more about this remarkable transformation.
‘We pride ourselves in being a lot more advanced than a lot of the other institutes,’ Dereck explains. ‘Some are still very traditional whereas CIMA wants to be at the cutting edge. Moving into the City is a really good example of this – our old office was in Pimlico, which wasn’t an ideal location and not what the leadership team aspired to. Our mission is to help people and businesses to succeed, and with the offices we had in Pimlico, the story didn’t quite gel.
‘The offices were tired. We were already on the journey, as it were, but the building didn’t allow us to be as agile as we wanted. The building and the IT we were using were stopping us from moving forward. Most people didn’t even have a laptop, so we said we wanted to be far more agile in the way we work, we should give our staff mobile devices and allow them to work in a far more ‘open’ way. The mindset was always there but we were held back by these physical constraints.
‘When we started thinking about working in a far more agile way, we were approaching the end of our lease in Pimlico – so we didn’t want to invest into improving that building.’
‘The planets aligned!’ Chris smiles. Dereck tells us that the CIMA team worked with a transformational consultant and they helped us measure where we were and find where we wanted to go. The next phase of the project was to find a partner who could take us through that journey – help us implement some of these ideas. Capita came on board with iDEA as a package – Capita doing the change management side of things and iDEA doing the design and helping us with the implementation of it all.
‘By engaging the business through the survey we started to see how we could make the theory, thought and ideas come to life.’
‘We had a relationship with Capita – we’d done a number of projects with them,’ Chris explains. ‘In this instance we used our me+myworkplace tool to do that workplace analysis bit and then used that as the hook to engage with the organisation and begin to deliver some the ideas that Dereck was talking about.
‘By engaging the business through the survey, we started to see how we could make the theory, thought and ideas come to life. The design really started to hang itself around this. As a client, they really got it.’
Our hosts continue to explain how the me+myworkplace tool really started to define the spaces and facilities that would work for CIMA and its people – both now and in the future. This collaborative approach – with heads of departments talking constantly with the iDEA team and the IT consultants – led to a cohesive, open process and, clearly, an extremely successful result.
‘Making sure we were all aligned was such a crucial part of the project,’ Dereck explains. ‘It was also crucial that we defined what fixed means, what collaboration means and what remote working means to CIMA – this was crucial in defining how the space was going to be designed. We needed, as an organisation, to understand what flexible working and agile working means.’
‘And who knows you better than you?’ Chris continues. ‘That simple acknowledgement is hugely important. From there you are able to do things that you might otherwise have not been able to do – you get a lot more buy-in and a lot more understanding.’
As we start to take a look around the space Dereck tells us that the team looked at some 26 buildings before deciding upon the Helicon building. Not only did CIMA want to be here in the City, it also wanted a flexible, open, future-proofed space over a single floor. This building was able to tick all those boxes. ‘We wanted something that was modern, flexible and professional,’ Dereck recalls. ‘We knew the desk ratios we wanted to aim for – we wanted a 7-to-10 ratio – and from there that list of 26 buildings shortened rapidly. We were also very concerned about losing staff and the impact on our people – and this building had the very least impact. The communications here are very good. We did try to take emotion out of the equation and be as scientific as possible about everything we did.’
‘That simple acknowledgement is hugely important. From there you are able to do things that you might otherwise have not been able to do – you get a lot more buy-in and a lot more understanding.’
‘You sometimes forget how much was done to get to this point,’ Chris grins.
iDEA has reduced CIMA’s requirements from 6,000 sq m to just 2,300 sq m, with a combination of non-assigned team desks and shared collaboration areas in this new vibrant hub for both staff and members.
Although, as Dereck explained, the ratio of desks to people is extremely tight, we can clearly see that there are a myriad of different work settings throughout the floorplate – and we’re happy to report that they are genuinely being used. From the coffee house bench settings at the front of the space, through to the large format team tables, the individual pods and the more formal meeting spaces, CIMA’s staff are clearly embracing their new non-assigned, agile working home.
The space is open, bright, professional and contemporary, with clever pops of colour adding even more energy and also helping to define zones. The finishes are clean, fresh and visually stimulating, from the light timbers through to the smart Bolon flooring.
This space clearly works – and gives a clear message to anyone who visits CIMA; this is an ambitious and forward-looking institute.