I recently visited the new offices of Abcam, a local Cambridge business supplying protein research tools to life scientists. They’ve recently moved to a purpose-built building and had the chance to completely change the working environment for their employees. I was so struck by how fantastically flexible and smart Abcam’s new offices were, that I felt compelled to share! They are the perfect example of how a working environment can allow employees to thrive, and drive the success of an organisation (more on that here on the blog).
Here’s how Abcam have done just that…
Encouraging employees to lead healthy lifestyles.
Instead of a large car park, Abcam now have limited parking spaces. Instead, there is plenty of covered secure bicycle parking, encouraging people to use public transport, walk or cycle to work.
Encouraging employees to stay away from the office!
Abcam also have a flexible working policy, that allows people to choose when and where they work (depending on the job) and most people do 1-2 days per week at home. As a result, there new office purposefully doesn’t have enough desks for everyone.
Shining a (natural) light on smart office design.
The space has been designed in a way that means almost all desks have access to natural light. The office space is broken up through the use of partitions and informal meeting spaces, so it’s not completely open plan.
There are plants everywhere, and plenty of informal break out spaces that employees use for informal meetings and chats. Plus, there are kitchenettes with a selection of healthy food and snacks on offer!
A variety of spaces to suit all working styles (not just open plan).
What really struck me, was the diversity and flexibility of Abcam’s new space and its smart layout. They have many different spaces for people to work and collaborate, including drop zones, chat rooms, training space and sofa areas. Many offices these days adopt an open plan layout. It’s cheaper to build, it’s ‘modern’ and you can fit more into the space. Sadly, you get what you pay for when it comes to open plan. Unless you’re able to police productivity, have strict rules about speaking and taking calls, then it’s hard to manage. An open plan working environment only works for 20% of the population – so for many of us this layout is counterproductive and stopping us from achieving our full potential at work. Abcam has certainly noted this, and their clever use of flexible working space is the perfect environment in which all their employees can thrive.
Why is a smart working environment like Abcam’s so valuable?
It’s not just about making your employees ‘like’ their workplace. The working environment has been found to have a huge impact on levels of productivity and team morale. Just because a founder or CEO works best when in an open plan space, doesn’t mean that all their employees do too.