Revolutionary agile work space created for Network Rail

Some 900 Network Rail staff have moved in to new agile offices that will revolutionise the way they work and could help improve railway journeys throughout the country.

The bespoke office fit-out by architects Weston Williamson + Partners and Overbury has transformed three floors of grade II listed Baskerville House, one of Birmingham’s most prominent and historic buildings in Centenary Square. The workspace consists of 84,000 square feet and brings together staff from a number of disparate offices throughout the city – to enable better collaboration, maximise productivity and promote well-being.

A multi-faceted organisation, Network Rail is undergoing a major cultural shift in order to become a more responsive, efficient and effective organisation; this is the flagship and one of several new agile office spaces around the UK which are instrumental in effecting this change.

The staff at Baskerville House include a number of different teams, with a range of working methods; the challenge in bringing them together was to balance flexible working practices with the requirements of specialist teams.

The leading-edge design concept of ‘activity settings’ enables staff to choose an environment appropriate to the task in hand:  an informal alcove sofa, bookable meeting rooms, in a private acoustic booth, in the Deli bar, in a dedicated training/seminar suite, at any number of break out areas, or simply at a desk.  This range of settings seeks to address the shortcomings of the pure ‘open-plan’ office, providing space for concentration and collaboration.

A spokesman for Network Rail said:

“We are really pleased with what’s been delivered. Baskerville House is a magnificent building and ideal for our agile-working requirements.”

The places that are occupied continuously have been positioned at the perimeter of the building, with the best natural light and views out.  The enclosed meeting spaces are located at the four inner quadrants of the plan, facing inward to a more informal gathering and social area, which is the primary circulation space through the office.

Finishes are robust and high quality but with added functionality where possible.  Throughout the Network Rail floors there is almost 200m2 of write on paint, in a variety of meeting room spaces.  This can be a powerful tool when combined with a projector on the writeable surface.  Additionally, deep shag-pile carpets are used in the meeting rooms, to give a different feel to other floor areas, and to enhance acoustics.

Philip Breese, Senior Partner at Weston Williamson + Partners said:

“Collaborating with the variety of Network Rail specialist teams and blending their requirements into a coherent agile workspace fit for the future has proved a fantastic opportunity.”