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Wed 4 Mar 2009 04:00 AM

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Down to the wire

The new Cable&Wireless offices were designed to promote new and innovative ways of working.


The new Cable&Wireless offices were designed to promote new and innovative ways of working.

At the heart of the new Cable & Wireless corporate headquarters in Bracknell, UK, was the desire to promote ‘new ways of working'.

Concepts such as desk sharing and hotelling were fundamental to the design of the new facility, which was created and fitted out by Visual I's, in collaboration with Claremont Group Interiors.

According to Richard Worrall, managing director of Visual I's, an office design, fit-out and project management firm, this mirrors a general move towards more flexible working environments.

"Not so much hot-desking, but creating an environment for permanent and migrant colleagues," he explained.

"Long hours of working need to be rewarded by the introduction of imaginatively designed areas such as themed tea-points, one-to-one meeting pods with large port-holes and, if fortunate, a restaraunt and/or Starbucks cafe!"

While cellular offices have been largely supplanted by open-plan environments, there is still a need to incorporate standard features such as boardrooms, video conferencing facilities and high-profile reception desks.

Visual I's was tasked with combining these stalwarts of old with the best of the new, while managing the relocation of over 600 people, in two phases, over a 22-week period.

"The initial brief was to accommodate the need for a new way of working, which involved planning for both team and global zones throughout. Team desking revolved around the various departments and desk sharing was a must in order to accommodate all of the colleagues. For example, a department of 50 colleagues may only have 30 permanent desks," Worrall explained.

"The global areas consisted of various touchdown facilities, hot desking and hotelling. Each colleague had to get to grips with a clear desk policy and the fact that they only had a locker for personal storage. The basis of the brief remained constant but the numbers of colleagues occupying the building was under continual review, which made department planning a challenge."


The design further facilitates enhanced communication through localised, informal meeting and gathering areas, and one-to-one rooms, galleys and tea points.

"These additional areas allow for various levels of communication and interaction between colleagues, from open forum meetings to one-to-one confidential discussion," Worrall explained.

Another primary aim was to reduce the appearance of regimented desking runs and inject the space with a more organic feel.

"The use of informal breakout areas and meeting spaces interspersed into the desk layout achieved this objective. One of the design requirements was to have a flowing footprint and therefore the use of square corners was kept to a minimum and the incorporation of rounded corners and curved walls lent itself to a more organic feel."

The overall inspiration for the design came from Cable & Wireless' new branding, which combines strong graphics, icons and colour. These elements were called upon to create a space that was both attractive and inspiring, said Worrall. This is particularly evident in the wall finishes.

"It should be said that the impact areas were always going to be the wall finishes; the use of creative graphic work and expanded photography as wallpaper was highly successful. Transparent imagery on the glazed partitioning was innovative and was developed from a Cable & Wireless' colleague photography competition," he detailed.

In some informal meeting and breakout areas, specialist materials and themes have been introduced.

"For example, a breakout area was designed with a harbour theme, which included panoramic harbour graphics on the walls. Water-effect vinyl on the floor and a bespoke table designed as a boat includes the use of a chrome-plated podium to give the effect of the boat floating on the water," he added.

The office also sets itself apart in its innovative implementation of technology. In addition to the installation of a Polycom RPX ‘teleprecence' video conferencing unit, and Digitok, a multi-regional projected clock, the office is running a fixed mobile convergence (FMC) pilot project.

"FMC replaces the need for a permanent landline on the colleagues' desks. Colleagues use their mobile phone for all calls as the phone automatically connects to the landline network when entering the building.

"Cable & Wireless covers all aspects of new, forward-thinking design. Bold graphics, a pure white space-age reception, strong ingredient of facilities support the environment and their new ways of working," he concluded.

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