I’d heard a lot about PKF Cooper Parry’s new office, at Solihull’s Blythe Valley Park, so when the opportunity to visit came around I couldn’t turn it down. I was expecting something out of the ordinary, and I was not disappointed.
There is a lot of talk in the property world about multi-generational workforces and agile working and, while not everyone agrees on the topic, I was amazed to what extent PKF had embraced this modern way of thinking. Their new offices are the exact opposite to what you may envisage when picturing an accountancy firm – not that accountants are boring…
It doesn’t just break the mould of what would be expected from an accountancy office – this is different to most workspaces out there. It would be at home in America’s Silicon Valley.
PKF now has an office designed to, first and foremost, ensure employees are happy. It is its firm belief that a happy workforce is a productive workforce, and that is hard to argue against.
So what was so special about the office? This may sound unrealistic, but in order to catch every aspect you really do have to visit more than once. However, there were many eye-catching spaces and features that I do remember passing on my tour.
For starters, there is a subsidised café open throughout the day located right in the middle of the office. A Segway track runs throughout the office, passing the swings, a huge fish tank, a stage, pillars covered in fabric for hugging (you read that correctly), work pods, a selfie station and themed meeting spaces.
There are many more subtle features too, all of which add to a unique place to work. Oh, and there’s a sports bar complete with sports memorabilia decorating the walls and two large televisions broadcasting the biggest sporting events, too.
Behind the colourful wackiness, there is reason too. The Segway track, which can also be cycled on (office pushbikes are supplied) provides an outlet for staff to exercise while working, as well as carrying out meetings while on the move. Studies, particularly in America, have shown that walking, cycling or even Segwaying can boost productivity. This is because being active while mulling something over can boost cognitive thought.
Everywhere in the office provides a place to work, even the swings. The pods, beanbags and benches can all become a workstation, encouraging agile working and the mixing of people from different generations, which increases knowledge sharing across a wide range of experience levels.
It has been designed with wellbeing at the forefront – even the selfie station has been built to encourage pride in one’s work and an air of friendly competitiveness. The idea is that when an employee has achieved something of note they take a selfie, which is then recorded.
Only pictures can truly do it justice, but when it comes to rebelling against the norm and catering for a multi-generational workforce, and their needs, it is right on the money.
You get the sense that in the not so distant future this will be a standard office. But, right now, it certainly stands out against the rest.