Optionis has been based in Warrington as a head office and operational function since 2005 and we’ve been in the same building. That was great back in the day we had loads of room but as we have grown and added new services and the people to support them, it has got quite busy (don’t get me started on car parking). So, some time ago we started to think and plan around how to solve this problem. We are based on a business park so there are plenty of offices but fortunately for Warrington, not too many medium to large ones left unoccupied. The one giant building on our park (ex North West Development Association HQ) was just too huge, nice thought though. That left us thinking about having to build, relocate to a different part of the area or split sites. My natural reaction was to gravitate towards a single larger building – be it built or leased. In both cases that was an issue, there weren’t any of the size in the local area to lease and building was fraught with the planning challenge (and cost!). I was very concerned about keeping us all together even though it was getting very difficult to hear yourself think at times (or park – did I mention that?).
The real issue here was of course culture and communications. We were already split having offices in London, Poole and Manchester so my concern was perhaps more around ensuring by moving the HQ parts of the business away from another part, that we would remain effective. I am sure there was another part of me that egotistically wanted to have one big office too! The real problem was of course more about people and communication over logistics but often a problem can seem very practical when the real issue is below the surface.
So we have ended up moving the main head office group functions (Finance, IT, Marketing and HR) a whole 300 metres from the current office and we’re now on two sites. This will allow the operational part of the business to claim back some much needed space and have room to expand properly. We have been very careful to ensure the new fit out was very similar to the one we already had and that people would feel obviously at home in both. Equally we have created training space at the new office that we can all use across sites. We will also go back and ensure the current office receives some TLC to ensure everyone is treated fairly and has the same standard of accommodation. I know that may sound a little ott but when you’re handling peoples livelihoods, support their business or helping them develop a career, it’s critical that people delivering those services are comfortable in work and can deliver to the best of their abilities.
We now have two important homes in Warrington but one big great team across the UK. That’s the important bit.