Making the move: A new working environment that’s better for our people

Craig O'donnell

by Craig O’Donnell

Group CIO

When we moved to our new headquarters in Victoria, central London, we were determined that the experience for our staff would be markedly different from before.  

Our old office had a number of issues, such as poor lighting and inconsistent temperatures, and we found that only half of our employees thought the office enabled them to work productively.  
We wanted to create an environment that met our people’s expectations and reflected their changing ways of working. The approach that we took was grounded in the latest thinking and research, and the impact has been significant. 

What researchers are saying 

There’s plenty of evidence that shows how important it is to get your environment right. 

In a University of Oregon study, it was found that in offices with a good level of natural daylight and outside views, employees took 6.5% fewer sick days. 
Just as important is the chance to get away from your workstation for a while. Research by Professor Brian Wansink, the director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, suggests that if you work at your desk over lunch you don’t get more done – but you do add inches to your waistline. 
Some of the benefits of a well-designed office environment are even more surprising. An American Academy of Sleep Medicine study found that people working in offices with windows “sleep an average of 46 minutes more per night” than those without because they almost double their exposure to daylight during working hours. Well-rested employees tend to be more productive – thereby helping their managers rest a little easier too. 
Monica Parker, a workplace behaviour specialist, says “people crave social areas that get them bumping into each other and sparking innovation. Spaces that are more organic and fluid will always yield better creativity, productivity and… efficiency”.

Workers who have windows in the workplace sleep an average of 46 minutes more per night."

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

A fresh approach for our new HQ 

Our old office was spread across eight floors and split into lots of small units, so employees found it difficult to see each other and rarely spent time together that didn’t require pre-planning. Today, at 80-100 Victoria Street, over 400 of our staff are based on one floor, with almost no partitions or isolated spaces. The building might be 10 years old, but it has been refurbished to the highest standards and now – thanks to a combination of technology, office design and our research into what’s most important – it’s as good as brand new. 

It’s going to change almost everything. The fact that we’re within the entire business, as opposed to being on a floor on our own, is going to be fantastic."

Miles Webber

Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Landsec

Our new offices help facilitate activity-based working (ABW), with multiple different work settings for people to use throughout the day. 
There are sit-stand desks, treadmill desks and a wide variety of seating options across the office designed to complement an active working day.

Image 1 open plan
Our new open plan office at 80-100 Victoria Street

In open-plan areas we’ve reduced background distractions by introducing white-noise machines at strategic points. These help to increase privacy levels without the need for physical walls. Quiet rooms, soundproof booths and even a library allow for peaceful and individual work spaces. 

We also encourage collaboration by providing plenty of places for teams to get together. That includes meeting pods, comfortable sofa areas and informal presentation spaces. Electronic communication has decreased as a result, with internal emails down by 18% - partly because people are more able to speak face-to-face. 

As research has shown, natural light is important, but we’ve gone further so that artificial light is programmed to be not too bright and not too dull, and it changes to mimic the time of day. 

Since our move to Cardinal Place, a Leesman survey of our staff has found that: 

Levels of satisfaction with lighting
25 %


Staff who are happier withair quality levels
40 %


Staff who feel the new office design enables them to work productively
88 %

[global average 67%]

Health and wellbeing is an increasing trend for companies and organisations – it’s getting right at the bottom line for companies in terms of productivity. Landsec is really putting the spotlight on that focus, and it’ll encourage other organisations to follow in its footsteps."

Emily Loquidis

Principal Consultant, Sustainable Development Group, AECOM

An approach wholly compatible with tomorrow’s workplace 

It’s not all about the building, though. How people interact with the technology it contains is just as important, so staff can choose to work anywhere in or outside the office. 

Support bar at 100 VS

The connectivity of our new working environment is also more seamless than before, with all our staff using Microsoft Surface Pro tablets. This means everyone is automatically connected to the screens within our meeting rooms and workspaces.  

We also haven’t forgotten about the perils of eating at your desk. As well as the roof garden, there are any number of places within Cardinal Place to sit, have coffee, eat and socialise. We even have a selection of free, healthy snacks and our own juice bar. 

Healthy Cafe
A number of healthy food and drink options are available in and around our office

Our ambition was, quite simply, to take away the physical, technological and psychological barriers that prevent people from working, communicating and collaborating successfully – not just within the building, but with colleagues and clients anywhere in the world. 

We’ve been building better offices for many years so it was important to set an example and move into a development we could be proud of. Now, more than 90% of our people feel that our workplace environment has a positive effect on workplace culture. 

We wanted our new office to be a celebration of our people and expertise. It brings together all of the knowledge and experiences from so many different parts of the business."

Neil Pennell

Head of Engineering and Design, Landsec

Everything is experience 

We’ve done our best to make our office – and the building as a whole – work well in other ways too, particularly in energy savings and overall sustainability. 

In fact, we were awarded a BREEAM Fit-Out 2014 Outstanding rating for achieving a score of 92.3% at the design stage, and the office is the largest fully certified WELL Building Standard space in the UK. We also won the BREEAM ‘most sustainable fit-out of 2016’ award.

Collaboration between the client and project team lay at the heart of this project to improve the sustainability and healthiness of Landsec’s new HQ. The result is a building that maximises staff wellbeing through improved natural light and air quality."


Refurbishment and Fit-Out Award 2017

Today, more than 1,000 people work at Cardinal Place. If we’ve helped them to work a little more comfortably, productively and collaboratively, that has to be a positive experience.