Agility and Flexibility are at the Heart of Capital One’s New London Offices

Capital One’s London offices have “agility at heart,” with an aim to support an array of work styles.  

Capital One tapped HLW to design its new London offices, reflecting the company ethos of simplicity and humanity in banking. The agile workplace spreads across two floors of the White Collar Factory building on Old Street Yard and aims at exemplifying the recent trend of financial institutions investing heavily in people and place to support their digital endeavors. It seamlessly mixes adaptable and varied work space with the security required by an international financial institution, while also remaining open and accessible in order to become an integral part of the tech and financial communities in London.

“Capital One’s new offices have been designed with technological innovation and collaboration as its core focus, to enable Capital One’s employees freedom and flexibility in how and where they work,” said HLW’s Managing Director Bronte Turner.

The worlds of tech and finance collide in Capital One's new London offices. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.
The worlds of tech and finance collide in Capital One’s new London offices. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.

When was the project completed?   

2017

How much space?   

30,000 SF

Was this new or renovated space?

New

Describe workspace types.

The work space allows Capital One’s employees freedom and flexibility in how and where they work. Focusing on flexibility and adaptability, including highly flexible desks that rotate to form new pairs and teams, collaborative working areas.

Capital One's new London offices feature an open plan workspace with a wide variety of areas to support multiple ways of working. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.
Capital One’s new London offices feature an open plan workspace with a wide variety of areas to support multiple ways of working. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.

What other kind of support space or amenity spaces are provided? 

Capital One’s London home is made up of two floors, levels 9 and 10, connected by a new accommodation staircase. Level 10 welcomes staff and visitors with an informal reception space that flows seamlessly into a large social hub. This is a business and community focused space that transforms from the social and collaborative heart of the workplace to a flexible event space for 250 people. Two large scale flexible meetings spaces adjacent can either be used independently or combined with the social space to increase occupancy. The space creates a rich and diverse environment of bespoke furniture whilst remaining totally flexible – with the large scale digital “big picture” delivering staff and brand communications. The main work floors combine small neighborhoods of flexible, movable desking with bespoke scrum space that can be concealed for privacy or opened up with movable screens to the rest of the space. All scrum spaces include touchscreen technology to capture and disseminate scrum information digitally. A combination of large and small flexible meeting rooms and one person focus rooms are combined with open collaboration space that supports a variety of uses and durations. Specialist spaces, such as product testing and interview rooms, are located close to the entrance.

A central hub on each floor contains food and beverage offerings with meeting and games spaces, which are connected by a feature stair with floating meeting pods to encourage chance encounters to be turned into valuable conversations.

The new London offices feature a game space. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.
The new London offices feature a game space. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.

Has the project achieved any special certifications?

BREEAM Excellent

What is the project’s location and proximity to public transportation and/or other amenities? 

London’s developing tech precinct in Shoreditch, close to Old Street station.

Was the C-suite involved in the project planning and design process? If so, how?

The team were engaged to not only develop a new and pioneering strategy but to go deeper and conduct a review of how the business currently operates across all its departments. Our findings allowed us to make recommendations that influenced the physical, and the organizational, design of the business moving forward.

Capital One's offices spread across two floors, connected by a staircase. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.
Capital One’s offices spread across two floors, connected by a staircase. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.

What kind of programming or visioning activities were used?

The HLW team did a series of Visioning Sessions, Interviews, Benchmarking, Site Tours, Mock-ups, and a Space Utilization study.

Were any pre-planning surveys conducted to get employee input?

Yes; HLW’s workplace strategy analysis aimed to understand Capital One’s business goals and enhance the evolution of the company. A workplace strategy was developed, centering on creating great experiences and supportive spaces for teams and the nature of the work they undertake; helping Capital One to push the boundaries of their working procedures by creating environment that supports the nature of the business’ agile working methods.

Were there any other kind of employee engagement activities?

A multitude of staff engagement front end and change management towards the end of the project allowed for Capital One’s teams to occupy the building in two phases and to be fully operational, comfortable with their new home and highly productive quickly.

The workspace includes meeting zones which can transform easily into a larger scale showcase and exhibition space which maximizes the amazing views of the city, and allow visitors a glimpse into the inner working of life at Capital One. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.
The workspace includes meeting zones which can transform easily into a larger scale showcase and exhibition space which maximizes the amazing views of the city, and allow visitors a glimpse into the inner working of life at Capital One. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.

Please describe any program requirements that were unique or required any special research or design requirements.

The design concept “Paper Space vs. Cyber Space,” were unique to this project. The design concept further celebrates Capital One through the symbolization of paper opposed to computer technology, celebrating both the history and future of the organization. Natural materials and soft curves reflect “paper space,” which is balanced against the manufactured hard materials of “cyber space.” These two themes come together to create an environment that mirrors the company’s unique work culture. The materials also compliment the architectural design and base build designed by AHMM.

A bespoke height adjustable and mobile desking system was designed which allows teams ultimate flexibility in arranging their own spaces whilst benefiting from the choice to sit or stand whilst they work.

Was there any emphasis or requirements on programming for health and wellbeing initiatives for employees?

Capital One value its staff’s physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Planting plays a major part in the schemes design and rather than be bolted in on is intrinsically designed into nooks and crannies around the space. Wellness is further supported by encouraging movement through the new staircase, ample fresh water distributed around the space, high ceilings and great natural light for all, the use of natural and organic materials – and not forgetting the running track on the roof accessible by all staff.

Sit-stand desks were implemented throughout, due to the amount of time some employees would spend at desks. Spaces for breaks, social interaction and activities were included across the space. Mobility is encouraged by positioning the new vertical connection at the heart of the space but away from the main social space meaning that the majority of staff are encouraged to walk around and make use of the whole workplace. A room for quiet contemplation is provided for staff to escape their day to day tasks and variety is everywhere allowing staff to choose the best way to complete any given task. There are also great bike, running and shower facilities in the basement.

The creative team at HLW designed and delivered a workspace that showcases the business while creating a fantastic space for employees to work in, enabling Capital One people to bring their whole selves to work, and showcasing Capital One as a desirable organization to work with.

The space has a wide range of working environments to support many work styles, offering staff the freedom of choice to encourage them to flourish. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.
The space has a wide range of working environments to support many work styles, offering staff the freedom of choice to encourage them to flourish. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.

Were there any special or unusual construction materials or techniques employed in the project?

Val Chromat sliding white board dividing screens used as feature cladding and joinery, to provide alternative options in terms of ways of working. Feature timber rafts with integrated lighting, an acoustic treatment to the ceiling and perforated metal wall cladding to provide acoustic enhancement and also add to the overall appearance of the space.

What products or service solutions are making the biggest impact in your space? 

Currently the number one real estate concern for technology companies is managing future change – in particular in relation to managing headcount. Providing a workplace that was ready for now but adaptable for the future was key to the success of the project. The team instilled a belief that the solution on day one would be one that accepted that change could happen straight away and that the building should be designed to absorb that change. A clever fluid design has been achieved with the use of movable walls and furniture solutions that allow for hourly and annual change. Lockers are provided to allow the desk sharing ratio to increase as the headcount does. Additional circuits and cooling were installed to support additional future use.

What kind of branding elements were incorporated into the design?

Capital One branding was featured in reception through signage and digital screens.  Although sophisticated in its style the building includes some surprise befitting an innovative technology firm such as seating made from Lego (the team had to write to Lego to get a special delivery of all white bricks!) and bespoke computer game inspired furniture.

The new offices feature collaborative working, meeting and visual management zones integrated to become an extension of the working area, as well as quiet focus areas and private booths to cater for individual working approaches. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.
The new offices feature collaborative working, meeting and visual management zones integrated to become an extension of the working area, as well as quiet focus areas and private booths to cater for individual working approaches. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.

What is the most unique feature of the new space? 

The final scheme delivers a space and experience that is both connected but meandering, with every detail thought of but still inherently change friendly. The space is permeable and accessible whilst respectful of the need for compliance and focused, productive work. A combination of open spaces are provided such as the event space for team lunches and community hackathons and a connected staircase for chance and planned encounters.  Along with spaces that are designed around more focussed interaction such as flexible, technology enhanced scrum space and booths that can switch mode from informal to more formal space by simply folding away a table.

What kind of technology products were used?

Various features such as a room booking system, scanomat coffee machine, surface hubs and integrated tech throughout.

The new offices aims at supporting the nature of the businesses’ agile working methods. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.
The new offices aims at supporting the nature of the businesses’ agile working methods. Image courtesy of Hufton & Crow.
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