With a growing business, the AECOM portfolio in Greater London was expanding. With a major merger just completed and several lease expiries due, there was an opportunity to use the workplace as a catalyst for integration, collaboration and a change in ways of working for its employees.
The Aldgate Tower project represents AECOM’s need to transform its working practices, redefine its culture and reflect its strength in creating and delivering environments that are inspiring places to live, work and play.
With 2,000 people working across four locations within Greater London, our vision was not just to bring these together into three hubs (Aldgate, Croydon and St Albans), but to create a campus – a network of communities to bring our people together, to inspire, learn, innovate and nurture the next generation of designers, engineers, architects and project and cost managers. Providing a platform from which to communicate our values and mission would allow us to deliver the world’s biggest and best projects, and partner with our clients in a more effective way. Aldgate’s role within this city campus is to provide AECOM with a global client showcase.
Our brand promise is “Built to deliver a better world”. A key challenge on this project would be to make sure we lived up to this promise internally, as well as externally. For our people to do their best for our clients, we need them to be working effectively, collaborating across disciplines and doing so in a workplace that showcases what we do and how we do it.
We assembled a fully integrated internal team, bringing our design, construction and people skills together including workplace strategy, interior design, all building engineering services, cost, project management, HSE, Communications and Brand, HR, Real Estate & Facilities Management and Organisational Development. This enabled us to innovate faster, designing and delivering 7990m² in an 18-week construction period and a five-day window of moving.
We identified early on that occupancy across multiple floors could fracture adjacencies between business units and teams. Establishing vertical connectivity was critical to make sure we stayed true to one of AECOM’s core values – collaboration. We connected the floors through a feature stair between floors, bounded on each by unique destinations, to form communities for our people.
After research and close analysis, AECOM’s leadership and project steering group decided to enable all workers to be agile in the new environment, a completely different way of working for our designers, engineers, architects and project managers, and one which pushed through existing technical constraints for an Architectural and Engineering organisation.
Moving to agile working meant that all 2,000 of our people across the Greater London Campus needed to be equipped with the technology that they would need in order to transition seamlessly to the new environment. The roll-out of this, as well as a new telephone system, was carefully planned and road-tested months prior to the final move to Aldgate, which enabled a soft landing on occupation.
We designed in-house a ‘Where we Work’ app to provide a host of information, including how to use the new spaces, critical health and safety information, tips on becoming more “paper-light”, and useful local information. This meant that, from day one, our people had all the details they needed to get up and running quickly and to get the most out of their new workspace. The app was instrumental in communicating to a large and diverse workforce, and continues to be used across our Greater London Campus, now also forming part of our induction process.
The workspace itself is designed to eliminate silos, encourage creativity and innovation right across the organisation. With a diverse mix of work styles among staff, the workspace provides a flexible landscape of settings which are carefully designed in order to suit those with a technical role whilst at the same time supporting those in consultancy functions. Business units can easily expand within their neighbourhoods or come together as project teams, due to the flexible approach deployed in the workplace IT design and enhanced CAT A MEP design.
Wayfinding is simple and intuitive, supported by clear circulation and destination points across the floors, and enhanced through open-plan landscaping and exposed ceiling services. Core support spaces are playfully signposted, with unique names given to each central community spaces such as The Grocer and the Workshop.
The overall internal workplace aesthetic embodies the AECOM brand, through the subtle but effective use of materials graphics and AECOM’s local and global portfolio of work. Photography and designs around the building tell the story of what we do, our values and what we stand for.
AECOM’s new offices in Aldgate Tower were designed entirely in-house and the SKA rating principles were woven into the design. Office fit-outs typically introduce a range of toxins into the internal environment, through microbial contamination of the ductwork and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the furniture, fittings and even the cleaning products. This project achieved a SKA ‘Gold’ rating at the handover stage, which recognises exemplary performance in improving environmental performance and enhancing the health and wellbeing of occupants.
AECOM’s move to Aldgate Tower was always about more than the building itself. Yes, we wanted to create a modern new workspace, a sustainable design and a global showcase for what we do, but it was also about bringing our teams together and creating a connected Greater London campus to enhance collaboration and drive innovation.
The project exceeded expectations and fundamentally changed the way we work: boundaries have been replaced with relationships, individualism has been replaced by collectivism; email has been replaced with conversation.
Now many months in, the change is tangible, with a greater energy and vibrancy. Staff are more engaged, more collaborative, more excited about the wider possibilities and their own development, and are dreaming bigger.
The impact of this design is huge and means a great deal to us as a business, and how we work and how we continue to support our clients in the future.