As a service provider, differentiating yourself in the eyes of customers and your key assets – your employees – is both challenging and crucial. PKF Cooper Parry was determined to do just that – and in the process shatter the stereotypical image of business advisory firms, thanks to the bold design of its new working home.
we headed to the East Midlands to learn more about the ‘super office’ that is now home to the firm’s 200+ employees, right next to East Midlands Airport.
After being briefed to create a working environment that reflects and bolsters company culture and working practices, Paragon Interiors Group handed over PKF Cooper Parry’s new office in summer 2014.
The relocation allowed the company’s Nottingham, Derby and Leicester teams to all come together under the one roof at the Pegasus Business Park, Castle Donington.
The firm’s new 30,000 sq ft home has been transformed into a Google-style office space, complete with a cafe area decked out in bright and bold colours and an array of stimulating and inspirational meeting spaces designed for breakout working and individual meetings.
The ground floor also offers two eye-catching play spaces, including a vintage table football game, Xbox, pool table and arcade games, along with an astroturfed TV viewing area and an outside space with a table tennis table. Any visitor can instantly see, this is not your typical business advisory firm
Five ‘feature rooms’ are used to host internal and external meetings and have been carefully designed to create very different settings and atmospheres. The Treehouse is full of forest greenery and comes with its very own rope swing, whilst The Shack has a relaxed surf club feel to it. The striking black and white of The Summit takes its inspiration from an Antarctic expedition, The Lounge is a slick looking formal sitting room while The Dream Room is where team members can go to discuss personal and career aspirations.
Upstairs on the first floor, all 210 of the company’s team members are now seated together in a large, light and airy space which has been designed to allow easy working and communications.
‘This was a wonderfully immersive project to get involved with,’ Alan Hardy, CEO of Paragon Interiors Group, tells us. ‘We are always very clear with clients that if they want to get the most out of the design process, especially when it comes to your working environment, you need to have a good long look at your organisational culture and work from that. For many clients, there isn’t a defined culture but perhaps a collection of principles. What we immediately found with PKF Cooper Parry was that culture was at the heart of what they do and needed to be reflected in the design and the finished space. We took the time to work as one big team, examining and refining work flows and patterns, questioning use of space and how everything might flow together for maximum efficiency, innovation and in the long term, return on investment. Working with clients that embrace this approach is an absolute joy – this isn’t just about whacky spaces, rope-swings and treehouses, this is about reinforcing a culture and stimulating every facet of the business through intelligent and innovative design. Most of all, it is about listening.’
So why did PKF Cooper Parry want to consolidate its real estate in this way? ‘Having four offices with shared services, there was evidence of divorced cultures,’ Alan explains. ‘The new central building has enabled them to grow and collaborate as an aligned business to service their clients. There are also financial benefits for the consolidation exercise where overheads have been reduced, both in building expenses and duplication in services.’
And why the choice of location? ‘Having ascertained that East Midlands Airport was the central point for the existing offices, the location needed to be a fair and equal distance from those offices. Although people live around the East Midlands area, the demographics were centred about the office not their home. Infrastructure and ease of access for staff was important and presenting the opportunity to park their cars at the office was a real added value. The lack of amenities in the area has been replaced with an onsite facility, which we have named the Cooper Pantry. This has been an incredibly effective service offering and formed part of the culture of their business.’
This was clearly a huge cultural shift for PKF Parry Cooper and its people. ‘The cultural change was significant for them, moving from cellular offices, disconnected teams and unique office cultures into one home,’ Alan confirms. ‘The change from fully booked meeting rooms, no collaborative spaces and divided social activities within their existing offices to a playful, open plan building with lots of different spaces to engage and mix with other teams was a significant transition and change.’
Jeremy Bowler, Chairman of PKF Cooper Parry, is clearly delighted with the way Paragon achieved their results. ‘Paragon invested a huge amount of time in interpreting the brief and, more importantly, in understanding us and what makes us who we are. We left the brief deliberately broad to invite those tendering to express their creativity. It’s fair to say that Paragon blew us away with the ideas which they presented to us and which pretty much shaped the end result.
‘Their management was hugely professional and the project, which was already on a very tight timetable, was actually finished ahead of time. Their people were great to work with – professional but down to earth and easy to get along with. We regard the project as a huge success overall and would have no hesitation in commending Paragon to anyone looking for a creative, value add solution.’
‘We hadn’t worked with PKF Cooper Parry previously,’ Alan admits, ‘however, when we stood in front of them for the first time to present their new office design we won their hearts and minds. We were told by the Chairman and CEO that our presentation was head and shoulders ahead of the competition – and they felt that this was the team they wanted to work with to bring their vision forward. The relationships were incredible and created a foundation for creative thinking, open partnership and lots of fun. They remain friends and one of our strongest reference sites, proving that when two likeminded organisations work together you can create real magic.
The last word goes to Ade Cheatham, Chief Executive at PKF Cooper Parry – who is also clearly a huge fan of what has been achieved here. ‘The move is a culmination of everything we have been focusing on as a business for the last few years. We’ve been making huge strides towards becoming number one in each of our core business areas, membership of the global PKFI network has already seen us generate more international business, and bringing us all together under one roof is of huge benefit to our clients and as a business.
‘The design, layout and interior perfectly reflect our company culture and approach to working. We wanted the new office to be a flexible, modern, quirky and most importantly, shared space, which would make everyone proud to be a part of our business and based on the feedback we’ve had from everyone already, I think we have achieved this.’
We couldn’t agree more