CITY OF LONDON SHIPPING INSURANCE COMPANY 

RHD were approached to review the offices and working practices in a multi-national insurance company working in the shipping industry. 
 
The client owned the building – which meant that refurbishment was the only option. 
The brief was very simple: 
 
‘The offices are not working’ 
‘Communication is poor’ 
‘We are struggling to recruit the people we need’ 
‘The air-conditioning isn’t working’ 
‘The lighting is poor’ 
‘We do not want to be in open plan offices’ 
 
 

THE SOLUTION 

The solution to the problems was pretty straightforward – they needed to go mostly open plan! 
 
In doing this: 
 
People will naturally be able to communicate and collaborate 
The air-condition will start working without needing very expensive modification 
The natural light will improve 
The artificial light could be designed better 
 
To allow this sea-change to the brief, RHD had to find out what the objections to open plan working were – then to provide solutions that dealt with the objections. In the main this was a sound problem and careful choice of desk arrangements and finishes like carpets managed the problem away completely. To the extent that once the ‘Phase 1’ of the refurbishment was complete people were asking when their part of the office would be done. 
 
In producing the design RHD also found that a huge amount of ‘essential’ storage was un-used. Which meant that the new office layout was designed with only 30% of the existing capacity – saving tens of thousands of pounds – not to mention space. 

SUBLET SPACE 

Very early in the design RHD identified that half of one entire floor would not be required for their client’s use and that the building services could easily be split to separate this area. The client took this advice and once the refurbishment was complete – the spare area (which had been used as swing-space in phasing the works) was separated and let on the open market. The saving in business rates added to the rental income paid for the fitout in less than five years. 

CONCLUSION 

Every aspect of the brief was more than met. In particular their need to retain and recruit the best people to allow the business to grow. There was also the added benefit that the work had effectively been ‘free’. 
 
 

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