Leading office interior design, fit out and refurbishment specialist Morgan Lovell has completed a project for national health and beauty retailer Superdrug to transform its new 55,000 sq ft Croydon address into a collaborative workspace that supports colleague wellbeing and company growth.

Leading office interior design, fit out and refurbishment specialist Morgan Lovell has completed a project for national health and beauty retailer Superdrug to transform its new 55,000 sq ft Croydon address into a collaborative workspace that supports colleague wellbeing and company growth.

After almost 40 years at its previous address in Beddington Lane, Superdrug decided to relocate its headquarters to better reflect its brand and create a more efficient working environment for colleagues.

Morgan Lovell was tasked with transforming the new office in three phases – defining Superdrug’s requirements, designing an inspiring work environment, and building the office. After being appointed in early 2016, Morgan Lovell carried out a number of workshops, surveys and interviews to understand Superdrug’s core objectives for the new office. Results showed that reinforcing Superdrug’s collaborative culture and implementing its wellbeing philosophy were top priorities.

To create an office that meets the needs of all colleagues, Morgan Lovell set out to design an ‘activity based’ working environment. This type of environment gives employees a choice of how, when and where they work.

Tim Polisano, senior designer at Morgan Lovell, comments: “Activity based working is a simple concept. For Superdrug, it means offering employees a choice of work settings, each designed for different types of tasks – whether a small team meeting, confidential phone call or a presentation for a product launch. We have used furniture and varying colour schemes across the floors to designate certain areas for different activities including collaborative zones, contemplation spaces and ‘touch-down’ desks. This new working style will also help integrate teams and make the office a destination where employees can meet and discuss ideas however and wherever they feel comfortable.

“User experience has also been really important – we want people to enjoy working in the space and to be able to move around freely with ease. Whether it’s moving somewhere quiet with a laptop to focus, catching up with a work mate over coffee in the lounge or taking advantage of a more formal meeting room for an important supplier briefing. We’ve focused on providing tailored solutions for each team, which took months of planning and consultations with colleagues, and the result is a workspace that works!”

Meeting facilities were another key focus. Morgan Lovell’s initial research found that 73% of all meetings in the old office were between less than four people, indicating that space was not being used to its full potential and that smaller meeting rooms and flexible breakout areas needed to be provided. The design for the new office now includes meeting rooms of varying sizes across the five floors to encourage conversation away from the standard work areas. Central services on each floor, such as printers and tea points, are intentionally placed on the perimeter of main working areas – a simple design tactic to encourage taking small breaks throughout the working day.

There are also breakout spaces on every level and a large café on the ground floor with doors leading to an outdoor terrace. The café has been furnished with a wide variety of seating areas and the healthy food that’s provided onsite is freshly prepared in the fully-equipped catering kitchen. Also on the ground floor, colleagues can take advantage of the drop-in clinic for free health checks and the same healthcare appointments that Superdrug offers on the high-street.

The formal reception area has been swapped for a concierge desk, giving employees and visitors a welcoming experience the minute they walk through the door. There are refreshments in the Business Lounge and iPads for guests to use while waiting.

Moving upstairs from the ground floor, branding remains a key design theme. Employees will feel more connected to the brand and store colleagues through deliberate mimicking of the distinctive high-street look and feel.

Superdrug’s corporate values have been incorporated throughout using large colourful graphics – even acoustic panels (which have been installed to make sure that the open plan isn’t too noisy or distracting) have been branded. In total 2,900 sq ft of branded acoustic panels were created – the equivalent size of Wimbledon’s Centre Court. A mock shop with AV facilities has also been built, allowing teams to demonstrate to store colleagues how new products will appear on shelves around the country.

Jo Mackie, Superdrug Customer & People Director, comments: “After almost 40 years in our previous office this is a huge move for the business. The new office creates a more inspirational work space that totally reflects our brand’s culture, vision, mission and values and will allow us to give our stores and customers the support they need to ensure we continue to grow and continue to offer the best health and beauty experience on the high street and online.

“The design of the new office reflects every aspect of the Superdrug business with images of colleagues showcased throughout. Our vision is to make beauty and health accessible and that’s what the new environment does for our people both by the design and the services we offer.”

Tim concludes: “Developing the designs for Superdrug’s new office has been a great experience. The business really does live by what it preaches and the board’s involvement from the outset is testament to that. There’s a huge focus on recreating the same approachable culture Superdrug has maintained across its national stores. We’ve worked hard to learn as much as we can about the business so that the new headquarters will meet the same impeccable standards found on the high-street, while establishing a destination for colleagues to work creatively and efficiently.”