Transforming the workspace for 2000 employees in the Thames Valley

“We’re about to submit a planning application – could you review it from a change and communications perspective?”


Our client, a global Pharmaceutical company and one of the biggest companies in the world was planning to invest £50m across 2 sites in the Thames Valley and close a third leased site. This 2 year programme would see every single person from all 3 sites moving at least once with phased works that would deliver new facilities, workspaces and services at a site already rated in the top 10 sites in the world (Leesman Survey).

The changes would impact everyone and there was no ‘one size fits all’ approach for the messaging. Governance was already complex with 3 sponsors – one from each sector and a wider group of engaged senior leaders. Everything would need to be tailored to meet the circumstances and expectations of each business to ensure a positive move experience. Employees would need support to get up to speed quickly and effectively in both the transition and end state space. With a planned final completion date of May 2020 we also had to react to the unexpected consequences of a Global Pandemic with a lot of rethinking of the final stages and continuing support of the Facilities team at all 3 sites.

What we did

Our support centred around putting in place structure and good change management and communications interventions alongside the already established build project. It was clear from the first few meetings that fundamental build decisions were being made without sufficient oversight from the business so we had to work quickly to build relationships and trust within and outside the project team. In addition the existing change management plan was designed for a big bang change and not the rolling nature of this complex programme which would also deliver 2 slightly different workspace models at the 2 investment sites.

We therefore focused early effort and worked with stakeholders to

  1. Establish Governance meetings and create more transparency of the plans and dependant decisions for the site, building stronger relationships with the project team
  2. Understand the change impacts and begin work on early onboarding and communication to leaders of teams at the site
  3. Create a comprehensive change and communications plan that recognised the phases of the project and tailored messaging required by each site and group

As the project developed we kept leaders and employees informed and engaged with the aim of delivering 5 star concierging through the change. Our overarching project aim was to deliver increased satisfaction scores at the site, enable full business continuity and keep to the agreed cost. This included;

  • Co leading Governance with the Project Lead to enable decision making and appropriate scrutiny
  • Running workshops with leaders so they understood and could comment on the plans
  • Supporting leaders in Town Hall launches so they could present with knowledge and enthusiasm
  • Creating a group of Neighbourhood Ambassadors and Move Champions to connect with and support employees across site
  • Developing engaging branding for the programme and a promotional video to explain the new site design and etiquette
  • Ensuring feedback from Governance, Leaders and Employees was heard and acted upon by the project team
  • Designing a concierge approach to the moves with engaging employee experience at the heart
  • Creating workplace guides, SharePoint site materials and updated Q&A’s so information was easily available when it was needed
  • Building strong relationships and partnerships across the project team and wider organisation to enable robust and open discussion and challenge to get a better end result for the client
  • Working with all the client and contracted suppliers on site to ensure the right information was shared with the right people at the right time in an engaging way

What we are offering, the power of our partnership

Office move projects are complex and can be emotive especially in the early stages when the end result is still an image in the architect’s head. Our experience and ability to network at all levels in the client really helped to navigate a very complex programme. Our contracts are set up to give enough freedom to our team to pivot their support when the programme takes an unexpected twist and this was helpful more than once as the programme adapted to meet unexpected and unforseen challenges. The expertise of our graphics team also helped to bring key ideas and concepts about the new workspaces and facilities to life. We are rarely the only contracted service in the project so we take time to understand the deliverables of other providers and work with them to ensure a successful result.

If you would like to talk with us to explore where we may be able to support you and your organisation please get in touch. We would be very happy to explore some ideas with you.

As you wrap up your work on the move, let me extend a huge thank you for everything you have done for the office relocation.

You’ve been a fabulous partner and really made it all feel effortless. The feedback on the move has been so positive, and your change management has played a significant role in that.

I look forward to working with you again on the return to the workplace. Thanks again!

Communications Lead

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