Kellogg's moved into their new home in Media City at the start of 2018. The relocation was to enable cultural change and business transformation, attracting and retaining the best talent. Now six months in we hear from Paul Wheeler on how it feels like a completely different business and has created a new energy and spark.
‘I can feel the energy, this is really good.’ That was the verdict of Kellogg’s Global Chief Executive when he visited Orange Tower in June.
It’s been six months since the company moved 450 people from its site on Talbot Road in Trafford – to the future. Kellogg’s UK business, with teams from its European operation, now occupy three floors of space next door to the BBC, ITV and the University of Salford. It couldn’t be more different.
“The change has been night and day,” says Director of Corporate Communications Paul Wheeler (pictured). “I remember when we’d nearly finished the fit out and I had to go back to the old building… I walked towards it, thinking, ‘I don’t want to go in there’.
“That was the moment I realised how different it was going to be. It is such a radically different space, in such a radically different area.”
The Kellogg’s move is an example of how work is changing. Talbot Road was built in the late 1980s. It has a big fence, even bigger car park, offices behind closed doors; the building faced inward. That’s how things were back then, it’s what people expected. They didn’t even know their neighbours.
But in a changing world, where ideas flow freely, innovation is driven through technology, collision and collaboration. Space can enable these things and proximity to others encourages openness too.
“From a business performance perspective, it has been about energy,” says Paul. “Imagine having a building designed to hold 1,000 people, with 450 people; you are going to have a lot of space and people rattling around. That doesn’t give you momentum and energy. You need to be near people to generate a spark and activity. If you aren’t, it’s easy to get lost, or to keep your head down.”
The space has been designed to generate energy. Teams are clustered on each floor but they can work anywhere. Pods for meetings are mixed with smart screens, sofas and huddle areas for small meetings. It does feel open.
On the middle floor, there is a dedicated social space. No-one eats at their desks anymore and some have met others for the very first time, over cereal.
Paul adds: “One of the biggest ways you can tell if a business is changing, is by talking to people who are returning after an absence. I was in a meeting recently with someone who has just come back from a year’s maternity leave and she said to me: ‘this feels like a completely different business.’
This is good feedback, when a core driver of the move was about culture. Last year, the company announced some big changes to its product lines, reducing sugar and changing nutritional profiles. It’s responding to shifting mindsets on food and finding its place in “modern Britain”. The culture had to shift too.
New culture, new ideas
“In our last office, we had constant programmes to try and change the culture,” says Paul. “The furniture was old; the building was old. Every time you tried to take people into a new space mentally, they still sat in the same chair. I don’t think we would have this energy at our disposal, if we hadn’t moved.”
Media City has also created energy for Kellogg’s. Paul says his team are more integrated with the business community, holding events, welcoming people to see what they have created. If people aren’t offered a tour they always ask for one.
It’s a shared building too. Gone are the fences and fortress walls; replaced by famous people in the lift from ITV and opportunities to work on projects with the University of Salford downstairs.
Openness to others, openness to ideas, too.
“When we arrived here, we took over the Metrolink stop and Tony the Tiger became the voice over for the tram. Some people said to us: ‘Why are you coming here, you are not a media business?’” says Paul.
“If you think about this area, it’s about media, but it’s primarily now about tech, innovation and new products. Obviously, we are going to be here because this is where new ideas are being developed. We sell ideas, but they manifest themselves in food form.”
The full version of this article first appeared in Issue 2 of workplace insight publication KX magazine. To read the full publication, click here http://knowledgeexchange.tskgroup.co.uk/kx-issue-2-july-2018/kxissue2/