A Workplace to Leave a Legacy…

When SmartSearch – a leader of pioneering ‘instant decision’ anti money laundering software – made the decision to relocate from their cramped Guiseley offices, their management team discovered how investing in their workplace would leave a long-standing legacy for their rapidly expanding business.

In early 2017, SmartSearch was faced with a critical business issue. The typical growing pains that rapid success can bring had led to them outgrowing their existing building.

As a result, new starters were being shoe-horned into inappropriate space and the office was hindering productivity and affecting staff morale. An internal project team was formed to address the problem.

It was already clear that they would relocate at the end of their lease in March 2018. They identified a new build scheme in Ilkley and quickly signed up for 18,000 sq ft space over two floors of Mayfield House.

Martin Cheek, MD of SmartSearch said: “We wanted to ensure the new space could accommodate our future expansion, but more importantly, enhanced our culture and values, and gave something back to our loyal staff.” The next step was to find the right workspace partner.

James Dobson, Marketing Director at SmartSearch added: “We were prepared for a long, detailed consultation period and it was imperative for me that we found a partner who would make both a professional and emotional investment into our business.

After a competitive process which initially saw us speak to nine different companies at great length, we were unanimous in our decision to select Opus 4 as our fit-out partner. They were the only people we spoke to who fully understood our brief from the moment we met.” The consultation period lasted more than six months, coinciding with the construction of the building, and was an intense, close collaboration between the SmartSearch and Opus 4 project teams.

The workplace consultancy included an exhaustive study of how SmartSearch were currently working, understanding what had made them so successful but what the day-to-day barriers to productivity were. This provided the foundation for the design proposal. A visit to Clerkenwell followed, giving the project team the opportunity to sample a wide range of products. Sarah Haigh, Head of Design at Opus 4 commented: “The success of the project can be attributed to the day we spent in Clerkenwell.

The client was able to touch, feel, sit and sample everything that we proposed on the scheme.” This is reflected in such an eclectic mix of manufacturers being represented on the completed project. Products from Orangebox, Senator, Ocee, Frovi, Spacestor and Gresham all feature prominently in the new space. Work commenced on site in January 2018 and after a smooth, 11-week program, the project was handed over in March.

The ground floor space features an inviting social hub, where staff can work and play in relaxed surroundings. A defurb, exposed ceiling, with MF feature bulkheads and timber frames is suspended above an area which includes a central kitchen and island, a quiet lounge area with high back acoustic sofas and moss walls, a dining space encased in a ‘picture frame’ border, a stunning play area with 4k game consoles, pool and table football.

Spacestor’s popular Railway Carriage pods are used for casual meetings and dining. To enhance their approach to business culture, SmartSearch had a fully equipped gym installed. “It was always part of our plan to give something tangible back to the staff. We knew that installing a gym not only gave them chance to socialise with colleagues, it would save them money too”, said James.

The upper floor includes a stunning reception area, boardroom with views of Ilkley’s countryside, meeting rooms, multiple collaboration spaces and a sales training facility. The training room even has its own punchbag if anyone needs to let off some steam!

One of the quirkier features has been labelled ‘the bird cage’ – from Senator’s Special Projects division. Sat directly in the middle of the sales floor, it gives people the chance to get away from their desks for one to one meetings or casual conversations. John Dobson, Chairman of SmartSearch said: “When I first walked through the new office, it was very emotional. I thought about how far our business has evolved. I can honestly say there isn’t a single element I would change.

The purpose of our investment into the new space was to leave a legacy, by creating a workplace that would attract talent and push our business forward even further. I know we’ve succeeded in achieving that.”

For more information on the Office Design & Office Interiors specialists, Opus 4, visit their website: www.opus-4.com

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