BLM Manchester – A fresh approach to work
71,000 sq ft
- Services Involved
Strategy & Design
Design and Build
Activation & Engagement
Leading insurance risk and commercial law firm, BLM, needed a more agile and collaborative environment for their 600+ Manchester-based team. Moving away from their traditional-style offices, spread across two buildings and fourteen floors, they wanted to adopt a more flexible approach to work.
Creating a sense of community
We worked with BLM throughout the pandemic to design and build a central workspace where their clients, staff and visitors could connect and interact more effectively.
The BLM team were disseminated across two buildings and fourteen floors which, in some cases, restricted collaboration and a true sense of belonging. Their siloed teams needed an environment that would encourage a greater sense of community.
The new 71,000 sq ft workspace at Two New Bailey building in Manchester is spread across just four floors. Instead of assigning each employee to a fixed desk, we created a much more versatile and flexible layout. The new space encourages employees and clients to get together, share ideas and feel connected.
The impact of the pandemic
At the start of the pandemic, we briefly paused to take stock and re-evaluate our initial plans. If anything, it confirmed that we were making the right decisions and allowed us to be bolder and braver with our strategy.
BLM were already planning on becoming a paper-lite organisation, but the pandemic sped up their digital strategy. Utilising technology would help BLM to accelerate processes, become more sustainable, and allow their team to connect and communicate from anywhere.
Delivering this project throughout the pandemic placed even greater importance on effective communication. We ran sessions with BLM’s Champion’s Group (volunteers from all levels of the business), who shared ideas around what people needed from the space. We carried out visual design walkthroughs and sent out samples so the team could visualise what we were planning. By taking a ‘one team’ approach, we built a fantastic working synergy with the BLM team from the very start.
Smaller spaces. Bigger ideas.
Without large banks of fixed desks, there’s an opportunity to re-think the footprint of the office and do so much more with the space available.
BLM’s new layout encourages the team to work collaboratively. Employees can book a desk within their neighbourhood and store their belongings in a locker. All areas of the building are tech-enabled, so employees can take their laptops to various settings and plug and play.
The spaces are designed to support each employee’s different tasks and needs during a typical working week. There are settings to:
Collaborate: The huddle booths and touch-down tables are ideal for informal meetings and brainstorming sessions.
The workstations are positioned in ‘neighbourhoods’, encouraging employees to collaborate and work alongside different team members.
Focus: The designated focus rooms are designed for independent or focused work.
Meet: When clients and staff first walk in, the open-plan reception space creates a welcoming atmosphere.
There are various tech-enabled meeting spaces and lounges for clients, visitors, and staff to meet and collaborate.
Relax: BLM wanted to put a greater focus on the health and wellbeing of their staff, and so we designed a wellbeing room on each floor. Employees can retreat to these areas when they need a timeout from their busy day. These spaces can be used for yoga, support sessions, multi-faith rooms, and more.
There is also an outdoor seating area on each floor, where employees can step outside, relax and take in some fresh air.
Socialise: As well as ‘The Garden’ – a social space on the third floor where employees can enjoy lunch together – there is also a breakout area on every floor where clients and staff can catch up over a tea or coffee.
The impressive roof terrace offers panoramic views of the city and is the ideal spot for employee events and client entertainment.
A digital-first firm
BLM wanted to embed a new flexible approach to work in Manchester, empowering their staff to have more choice in how and where they work. To support this, we implemented intuitive and easy-to-use tech such as room booking systems, AV equipment in meeting rooms and collaboration software that enable people to connect and communicate from anywhere.
Transitioning to a paper-lite organisation, using systems such as digital filing, has allowed the team to become more agile in their approach to work. It’s also helped BLM to save space and become a more environmentally friendly organisation. The Two New Bailey development has achieved Grade A BREEAM ‘excellent’ specification, supporting BLM’s commitment to improving the long-term sustainability of its operations. Achieving these credentials means Two New Bailey is within the top 10% of UK non-domestic buildings in regards to its environmental, social and economic sustainability performance.
Every last detail of BLM’s new Manchester workspace has been carefully considered, from the layout to the final finishes. We used industrial-style features and materials that reflect the heritage of Salford and embodied the BLM brand, encouraging a sense of community in each area of the building.
The new office is built with agility and flexibility in mind, so the space can adapt and evolve over the years to come.
“We’re incredibly proud to have delivered this project during the pandemic, delivering an environment that supports BLM’s bold new approach to work. Their new office at Two New Bailey, Manchester, provides the spaces, facilities and tech their people need for a fantastic work experience. It’s an environment that will support them as they continue to grow and develop.”
"Our colleagues will be able to collaborate effectively, have flexibility in work arrangements, benefit from enhanced technology and tools in an inclusive and sustainable environment."Matthew Harrington, Senior Partner at BLM