“For ten years, we had an office that was perfectly functional. But it didn’t provide an experience for our people and visitors that truly represented our brand or culture. Relocating was our opportunity to find a space that we could truly make our own, that was inclusive and that supported our U.K. ambition to achieve net zero in our workplaces by 2030,” explains Chris.
“Inclusion is something that I’m very passionate about, so we put it at the heart of the process and the design – starting with assembling a diverse group of our own people from all levels and functions to act as a sounding board. This group quickly became our most important stakeholders and shaped the direction of travel throughout the process,” he adds.
One of the elements Chris is proudest of is that this space is that it’s extremely people-centric.
“It was designed and project managed by our people, based on input from our people, to create the right environment for our people to truly be the best version of themselves. This office is a living, breathing example of what Avison Young can deliver both for ourselves as well as our clients.
“Workspaces have a big role to play in inclusivity – in order to attract and retain a diverse workforce we need to create environments where everyone can thrive. Neurodiversity was a very important element for us to address, and our in-house designer Afton Montgomery embraced this wholeheartedly,” Chris says.
The Manchester workspace features quiet zones, dimmed lighting, a muted colour palette and curved edges which all contribute to creating a calming environment. In addition to this, the workspace features plenty of plants (known as biophilic design) which is proven to increase creativity, productivity and overall health of workers.
According to Chris, alongside inclusivity, social and environmental impact underpinned much of the decision making for the new space. His deep knowledge of the Manchester market included insight on the team behind the building they selected – the developer, architect and contractor all have strong reputations for socially aware business practices, and supporting the local community.
From an environmental perspective, there are several notable initiatives to report. The office design features sustainable materials like bamboo, and reuses almost 100 office items. In addition to that, the team has integrated inline metering to capture energy consumption data as well as incorporating green clauses into the lease agreement – making it the greenest lease Avison Young has signed to date.
The space is already making quite an impact, both on employees and clients. Chris says that the Manchester employees feel engaged and proud of the space and that it sends a clear message to the local market and the world that Avison Young is a business that invests in its people and places. This is already paying off - resulting in a competitive edge when it comes to attracting both new talent and business opportunities. And on top of that, the whole experience has taught him so much that he can’t wait to share with clients who are going through a similar experience.
“Our clients are so impressed with the space. I’m constantly being asked about the delivery process and having really lived through the experience I can say that creating stakeholder groups from the outset and giving people a voice has meant that our people are so invested in the space. It absolutely changed the direction of travel for us, and I can see the positive impact on their wellbeing every day when people come to work,” Chris says.
“We’ve been successful in getting people back into a shared work environment to collaborate, to be together, to embrace different types of working environments in a space that’s really special – a space that’s supportive, inclusive, calming and inspirational,” he adds.