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MoneySuperMarket (MSM) was born in Chester, starting out with several small offices before opening their ‘home’ office in Ewloe, with 600 employees. As MSM grew, teams began to migrate to new specialist branches in Manchester (the new tech hub) and London (focusing on marketing and finance), stripping the Ewloe office of over half its workforce.
The property hadn’t been renovated for almost 18 years, and employees felt their traditional home office had been neglected, with the layout largely unchanged. They feared the office had lost its identity and their home would eventually close altogether.
Ewloe’s Site Director Dee Dillistone called for a decision to be made. If the office was to remain open, it needed investment to re-establish its purpose and identity.
We worked in partnership with the MSM Ewloe Leadership Forum to explore and develop design themes. Through our focus groups, we uncovered a common desire to regain a sense of pride in the office, improve the layout and to make it feel like the home of MSM again.
Ewloe houses members from all MSM functions (marketing, finance, a contact centre, and TravelSuperMarket). As the only part of the organisation with a contact centre, MSM believe Ewloe should be a creative hub/collaborative space where MSM employees can come together to gain a better understanding of their customers. However, the different teams were acting as separate entities within the building.
To reconnect the team in Ewloe, we needed to break down silos, promote movement across the entire building and foster teamwork, whether they worked together directly or not. We also needed to make sure departmental colleagues, based in other offices, felt welcome to visit. The new office layout needed to reflect this and create that sense of home again.
We used the centre of each wing to bring people together and placed desks next to the windows, to make the most of the natural light. Each team could decide how they used the spine within their division to optimise their performance. The TravelSuperMarket team began using large whiteboards with wheels to facilitate collaboration, and the call centre team introduced booths to allow for their all-important 1-2-1s.
The building needed to echo a consistent MSM feel, whilst also celebrating the unique character of the building and its people. Whereas the Manchester site had an industrial feel, in Ewloe we used warmer colours to create the homely atmosphere MSM desired.
“One thing that was extremely important to the people of Ewloe was to create a sense of pride. To give the office its own distinctive character, the meeting rooms were designed after famous Welsh individuals such as Dawn French and Shirley Bassey, and we even created a Colin Jackson locker room.”
Grant Dean, Lead Designer, TSK
The project was delivered in two seven-week phases in spring 2020 (due to the March lockdown restrictions). As the pandemic allowed us to work on an empty site, we were able to work efficiently, and without disruption, and we delivered the project on time.
The refurbished central café and meeting spaces now draw people into the heart of the building and encourage cross-department communication. The activity-based working layout is easily adaptable and now facilitates collaborative working. But most importantly, MSM have their home back.
“We went into this project with a certain level of fear, but there was a strong sense of willingness from TSK to work collaboratively. They didn’t push us to spend as much as possible and, instead, really took the time to understand our people and what they needed, working within our budget. They kept the structural changes to a minimum, focusing on clever design changes to encourage collaboration and movement. Each department can work productively in their own functions but also collaboratively as a wider team.
“Our people have been making a phased post-COVID return since September, and the reaction so far has been amazing. The office feels like home again and the open-plan layout is designed to continuously evolve and adapt, lending itself perfectly to the current pandemic. Our work with TSK will most definitely continue – we’re already discussing how we can create more solutions for our employees!”
Dee Dillistone, Customer Operations and Ewloe Site Director, MoneySuperMarket