NPC is moving office
17 March 2023 4 minute read
NPC is moving office. Not a game-changing moment for the world but an interesting one to reflect on. We’ve moved office before in my time as CEO. Years ago, it was all about finding the right place at the right price in vaguely the right location. That was the way for most charities.
Then it got a bit more complex. In recent years, we’ve been very insistent on finding a place with good access for those with disabilities (our current office only just does that). Staff wanted a safe place to park their bicycles – something we encourage. Computer and wi-fi access became more and more important, while hot desking and open plan working made some properties work, others not.
But this time it was a lot more complex and thought provoking. Creating an inclusive environment to meet the needs of our staff was once again at the forefront of our minds, as was the enormous shift in working patterns in recent years. Our staff work on hybrid contracts, some coming into the office a lot, some only once or twice a week. Some now don’t live anywhere near the office. Equally, the charities and funders we work with as consultants, and in our innovation and think tank capacity, are working in different ways – at least for the moment. We thought that once Covid was ‘over’, people would want to have things like workshops and roundtables in person. And that trying to influence government at all levels would mean a return to face-to-face meetings. But this is not necessarily true.
People love being in in-person meetings again, you can feel the energy when you’re at one. But the hassle it creates to travel, plus the advantages of having a wider geographical spread of attendees, has clearly started to outweigh this for many. And our team has proven to be very adept at running online events.
Will things stay this way? We don’t know – does anyone? So that meant it was vital to look for an option that was flexible, not on a long–term fixed lease or contract with no break clauses, and a space that can be used in different ways. For instance, we wanted to ensure that we could share the space with other charities if we found we were not using it to its full capacity. Video conferencing is here to stay, so we also needed an office that offered multi-purpose spaces, from hybrid working to collaborating and socialising.
A few organisations have elected almost exclusively for home working, with away days to bring everyone together. Clearly that saves on office costs (although no doubt transferring some of them to staff), but this was not for us.
At the heart of what we do is knocking thoughts and ideas around, so that we can better help our clients and the sector. Therefore, we wanted an office that staff want to work in, at least some of the time, to interact with each other face to face. This meant finding a place with good natural light and space for informal chatting, because the point of being in the office these days is an opportunity to interact with colleagues and not just spend all day on video calls. Against the backdrop of the climate emergency, we also considered the importance of managing the office carbon footprint, something new builds often incorporate but older properties struggle with.
Then what about a shared space? We – and our board – thought a lot about this. If the financial numbers had pushed us in that direction, we could have worked that way. But to only have a small space exclusively for us – with hot desking in the shared space, plus the fights for meeting rooms (we need a lot of private space for client work) and so on, made it feel like second best – at least this time around.
So, in the end, we are moving only a few hundred meters up the road. We hope to create a more comfortable space with a culture more suited to hybrid working. Let’s see how it goes.
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