Allen & Overy’s Belfast office has won the commercial category in the inaugural RICS Social Impact Awards for Northern Ireland.

The awards recognise organisations for their positive and transformational contribution to society across the region with all winners progressing to the National UK awards in September.

‘Project FLEX’ involved a complete re-design of the 50,000 sq ft site at Belfast’s vibrant Donegall Quay. The work had a strong emphasis on creating an agile workspace through innovation, collaboration and improving employee wellbeing.

Across the seven floors, a new activity-based approach has been adopted with all desks becoming hot desks and stand-up work stations allowing employees the option to choose their workspace based on their daily activities. The new layout also supports organisational growth for the next five years.

A&O Belfast has reduced its carbon footprint significantly by introducing the latest digital technology to allow employees to work seamlessly from the office or home, engaging with clients and other offices worldwide, thereby reducing air travel and Co2 emissions.

Patricia Rogers, Support Services Centre Head comments: “Our Belfast site is the first to roll out this new agile design philosophy within the A&O estate. Agile working helps improve wellbeing, productivity and mental health and has given us the flexibility to diversify, grow and adapt with very little disruption to the office environment and people.

“This investment reaffirms our ongoing commitment to employees and demonstrates how businesses can adapt their overall model within the current climate successfully. Our focus on innovation and digital technology in particular has ensured that all staff are able to work safely and effectively from home during Covid-19 whilst delivering for clients globally.”

The new working environment resulted in a 30% increase in productivity and encouraged employees to use the new space to host networking, professional development and charitable events.

RICS Social Impact Awards judges said: “A qualified physiotherapist completed a workstation assessment at all desks to help staff understand the importance of the issues with workstations and to highlight any issues that may affect poorly on health.

“During the works local contractors were used and significant collaboration existed throughout the design team but also included A&O appointed staff. A workplace psychologist was engaged to assess how people related to one another and their environment with all such information used to aid in the design of the new office area.”

Project FLEX was delivered in collaboration with Bruceshaw, Todd Architects, McCue Crafted Fit, Banyard Consultants, Calibro Workspace and Workshop NI.

Allen & Overy employs more than 600 people in Belfast across the Legal Services Centre and the Support Services Centre. The Support Services Centre delivers HR, IT, Finance, Marketing, Library and Business services to improve capacity and efficiency across the firm’s 43 offices worldwide.

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