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Rethinking our office spaces





COEL has been shortlisted in the Business of the Year (More than 50 Employees) category of the Cambridge Independent SME Cambridgeshire Business Awards. We found out how the Cambridge-based office fit-out and design company has been redesigning the post-pandemic workspace.

I-MEX (M&E) Ltd. Picture: Gary Britton (58190393)
I-MEX (M&E) Ltd. Picture: Gary Britton (58190393)

Glass floors, plush sofas and vibrant colours – some companies have been pulling out all the stops to make the office an attractive place for employees to return to after the pandemic accelerated the move towards more flexible working.

Cambridge office fit-out and design specialist COEL says organisations are now opting for interior design that in the past was more likely to be found in high-end hospitality or luxury homes.

Highlighting three of its recent projects, COEL Group CEO Alistair Rumbelow says: “Clever organisations took the time when employees were not frequenting the office as much to make some astute and spectacular changes to the look and feel of their working environment.

“The professional fields may vary, but there are certain design elements which are playing a consistent part in helping create the destination workplace.”

Seating at Jazz Pharmaceuticals. Picture: Andrew Wilkinson (58190397)
Seating at Jazz Pharmaceuticals. Picture: Andrew Wilkinson (58190397)

He cited versatility, colour, comfort and luxury among today’s must-haves for Coel’s clients, including global biopharma company Jazz Pharmaceuticals – previously GW Pharmaceuticals.

At its site on Vision Park in Histon, Jazz has combined fixed desks with open-plan areas and acoustic booths to offer the privacy and the quiet that many have grown accustomed to while working at home.

Jazz Pharmaceuticals. Picture: Andrew Wilkinson (58190385)
Jazz Pharmaceuticals. Picture: Andrew Wilkinson (58190385)

And a selection of plants and three plush velvet sofas have been brought into the courtyard to provide another touch of home, and a space for informal chats with colleagues.

Today’s office is all about “lifting your senses and elevating your mood”, Alistair suggests.

For I-MEX (M&E), a building service contractor based in Risby, near Bury St Edmunds, this meant injecting light into its new purpose-built workspace, on which COEL worked following an architectural layout by Rees Pryer.

I-MEX (M&E) Ltd . Picture: Gary Britton (58190395)
I-MEX (M&E) Ltd . Picture: Gary Britton (58190395)

“A structural glazed floor provides a window between the different levels,” notes Alistair.

This provides daylight to the foyer below. Meanwhile, rooms are cantilevered off a mezzanine floor to provide private working and smaller meeting space, in addition to the larger open-plan office area.

Here, too, were elements of the home-from-home, with a stunning kitchen installed.

BioMed Realty at Granta Park. Picture: Andrew Wilkinson (58190387)
BioMed Realty at Granta Park. Picture: Andrew Wilkinson (58190387)

Life science and technology real estate specialist BioMed Realty focused on brand identity when switching to new office and marketing suite space at Granta Park.

“Brand identity was key in all aspects of the design, seen in the adoption of the company’s logo within the interior space and the application of their corporate colour, a deep blue,” says Alistair.

Views of the park’s lake and plenty of light were ensured by the windows wrapping around the space, while glazed screening partitions were installed in the floor plan to help harness natural light to illuminate corridors. Another sophisticated kitchen can be found here, along with a choice of a corner sofa or bar stools, and acoustic lighting is positioned over long tables and chairs to absorb sound while providing illumination.

“Adventurous and thoughtful designs succeed in entertaining and impressing us but, more importantly, are drawing us back to a central hub where we can be a team once more,” says Alistair.

The Cambridge Independent SME Cambridgeshire Business Awards are supported by headline sponsor Barr Ellison, and fellow sponsors Mattioli Woods, Milton Hall, Growth Works, Barons BMW Cambridge, ILUX and The Cambridge Building Society.

You can see all the finalists here and tickets are now on sale.



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