I get to sit with my team and that encourages communication and teamwork

Mike Straney, Sightsavers head of corporate relations.

An office that works for every member of staff. Sightsavers’ Haywards Heath office is a space that inspires.

You only have to walk through the door of Sightsavers’ new offices to be reminded of what the charity – whose mission is to help prevent and cure blindness in the developing world – is all about. Pictures of the people Sightsavers was founded to help adorn the walls of reception, helping to create a very human space.

Aside from a reminder of their mission, Sightsavers wanted an office that would inspire collaboration. We worked with them to design spaces that would bring people together, an open-plan ethos punctuated by areas for impromptu gatherings and the nurturing of ideas. “I get to sit with my team and that encourages communication and teamwork,” says Mike.

Team benches, trundle chairs (that can be ‘trundled’ together for quick team meetings), and office-wide white boards which encourage the sharing of ideas both wonderful and whacky are practical manifestations of this ethos. People don’t eat at their desks as they did in Sightsavers’ previous office. The breakout café is a place to both eat and meet.

"The main idea was to help break down the silos that existed within their previous premises, to include more collaboration between teams and departments"

Pino Catalano, Lead designer, Morgan Lovell

Having said that, Pino and the team were also aware that, although collaboration is key, quiet spaces for private work and reflection are also important. Private zones in the new Sightsavers’ office allow for this, and high-backed sofas create a sense of privacy and focus for small meetings and intimate one-to-ones.

But Pino says there was another abiding philosophy behind the design. The office had to work for every member of the Sightsavers’ team, and that includes some who are themselves partially sighted. Bright colours and a specially marked walkway mean that every member of staff can easily find their way around the office.

And on top of all that is The Closet. “Every office should have a closet that takes you somewhere else, and this office is no exception,” says Mike Straney. Of course it should. And with a smile he disappears through a door marked ‘Narnia’.