An office design that people love

Countryside builds high-quality homes and creates sustainable communities that bring people together. Our mission was to create an office interior for the company’s employees that promotes that same community feeling, transforming Countryside’s Brentwood office into a workplace fit for the new way of hybrid working in collaboration with Savills.

Key features

  • Atrium centre piece
  • Formal and informal meeting areas
  • Brand identity
  • Biophilia

One positive the pandemic has brought about is the demonstration that employees can work effectively from multiple locations. We have a close working relationship with Countryside, completing projects based on discussions around agile working and how its spaces can be made fit for the ‘new normal’ – once again, Brentwood suited this overarching objective.

We needed to design a space that would serve as a destination; an employee’s first choice for where to work. After carrying out a workplace study to determine these exact requirements, a strategy was agreed which laid the foundation for our design plans.

Office spaces designed for employees

The strategy reflected Countryside employees’ desire for a place to collaborate, socialise and enjoy the workday. This broadened scope represents a sea change from their previous workplace, where every colleague had their own desk with no genuine collaboration spaces other than traditional meeting rooms.

The new office is the polar opposite. There are 25 percent fewer desks, and nearly all of them are unallocated and purposefully placed around perimeter windows to benefit from natural light. Employees can book desks via an app so over-booking is never a problem, helping the Countryside people team in its new approach to working from multiple locations.

Office design that puts employees first

Aside from a new approach to desking, the insight we gained into what mattered to employees has translated into many other aspects of our design and build. For example, the office includes a wellbeing room, bike racks and showers. In addition to the living wall, this helped the space secure a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating.

Throughout the process, Countryside office champions also played a pivotal role in the design of the building through communicating with all areas of the business. This resulted in room name suggestions and artwork selections and gave the staff a greater sense of ownership of the space, making the grand reopening all the more exciting.

And to add to that all-important first impression, we landscaped the whole outside space to ensure employees and visitors have a positive experience from the moment they arrive.

Let there be light

It’s no secret that natural light has a huge impact on employee happiness. The connection between natural light and Vitamin D is well-known, helping to promote wellbeing and robust health in many ways, from strengthened immune systems to fighting depression, diabetes, and chronic pain.

While Countryside’s existing space had a large atrium, small windows and overhanging plants prevented significant quantities of natural light from coming through.

As a result, we set about designing an atrium that would be the centrepiece for the building, fitting out a glass roof and replacing walls with glass to open up the space and fill it with natural light.

Embracing the Countryside community

Thanks to the design of the atrium, we have been able to maximise use of the space through the addition of a number of welcoming features. The ground floor features a café from which a large living wall stands as a key feature. Made from two-toned moss embedded with the Countryside logo and visible both from the atrium and office spaces, the wall brings a natural element to the design and helps to improve air quality.

On the other floors, all areas in and around the atrium are collaboration and social spaces in the form of libraries and project areas. We fitted out these spaces with exposed ceilings and patterned carpets to truly make them stand out from the desking sections.

Shortly before the design, Countryside launched a new brand initiative with revamped core values and a bright colour palette. We integrated these into the design throughout the building in several ways, including styling employee lockers with new brand colours, printing the core values onto walls, and adding tonal colours onto furniture and furnishings in collaboration spaces.

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