The Client Brief
Schindler manufacture, install and maintain Swiss-engineered elevators, escalators and moving walkways worldwide moving over 1 billion people per day. We were engaged by the business in December 2018 when they were approaching lease expiry on their UK headquarters premises in Weybridge, Surrey and had agreed heads of terms on circa 11,000sqft of new category A condition office accommodation in Addlestone, Surrey. The required ‘go live’ date for the business was May 2019.
The client was concerned that their existing offices in Weybridge did not provide a positive imagine to clients as the space was very tired with packages and deliveries cluttering reception and the only demonstration space was tucked into the corner of the boardroom. Therefore, the brief was to create a more modern, flexible, inviting office space whilst respecting the business hierarchy and senior personnel, which was important to the Swiss culture. Their approach was to “move once, move well” and, as this was their main UK office they wanted the fitout design to articulate ‘thinking space’, orientated around their customers, values and people.
Our role included building surveying, project management, employer’s agent and cost management duties.
Initially, we undertook pre-acquisition due diligence on the new premises, comprising a building survey and engaging a mechanical & electrical consultant to inspect and report on the building services. The recommendations made in the reports strengthened our client’s position and we worked with their legal advisor to negotiate the lease. In tandem, we worked with the client to select an appropriate contractor for the occupational fitout so as work could commence immediately in the new year. To achieve the May 2019 occupancy, we set up a series of design workshops with staged client approvals, which would allow sufficient time for development of the detailed design to obtain landlord’s approval. In parallel, we worked with the contractor to agree the contractor’s proposals and negotiate the cost plan so as the design & build contract could be finalised prior to construction commencing on site.
We worked alongside the client’s legal advisors to agree the building contract, review the lease and licence to alter and also track the progress of wayleaves for fibre installations, which were critical for occupancy. During the post contract stage, we chaired regular site progress meetings and monitored progress of the build having regard for quality and programme. Our contract administration duties included cost management, change control, dealing with valuations and payment and handover duties at practical completion.
One of the key features of the new design was the creation of a knowledge hub adjacent to reception so both visitors and staff could be immersed in product demonstrations and innovation as they entered the space. The use of technology, including a large media wall, was an integral part to enable content to be updated and displayed easily as their technology and solutions changed.
As we were dealing with the senior team in Schindler including the MD and CFO, they were reliant on us to advise on all aspects of the project and construction process which would allow them to focus on the restructuring of the business which was an intensive demand on their time. Our approach was to take away the day-to-day project hassles, structure the process to align with the timescales and budget and involve them only at critical decision points so as to use their time efficiently.
Schindler relocated to their new headquarters in May 2019 and work was completed on budget. The new accommodation exceeded staff expectations and created an environment they want to encourage customers to visit.
Whilst working on this project, the client was so pleased with our advice and support that they extended our instructions to assist them with the relocation of their customer contact centre from Surrey to Coventry. This involved the phased reorganisation and refurbishment of their existing office to maintain business continuity including new furniture solutions and breakout space.