Our goal was to create a headquarters for a world-class organisation that underpinned our culture and provided our colleagues with an excellent place to work that accommodated flexible working and allowed them to engage in an office environment in ways that suited them. Our architects helped with designs and initial thinking in relation to the proposed interior layout and furniture requirements of our new headquarters and how this aligned with our brand.
We needed to ensure the project was considering the 7 well-being goals and 5 Ways of Working. This new approach took time to develop as we’d already made progress with our plans and needed to understand how we could embrace a circular economy approach and still achieve our strategic objectives.
To better understand how we could furnish our headquarters sustainably, we organised visits to several suppliers such as Orange Box and CBOF to understand the products that were available.
These visits allowed us to compare sustainably manufactured products with more affordable ones with higher carbon footprints. We also visited Public Health Wales who had previously undertaken an office move and furnished their offices with 94% remanufactured or refurbished furniture. This visit demonstrated the value of a circular economy approach in terms of cost savings, fewer greenhouse gas emissions and waste reduction without compromising our brand and cultural ambitions. The visit also focused our attentions on how we could satisfy our requirements.
Collaboration and involvement were key to the project’s success. Developing a detailed understanding of circular economy approaches, the example from Public Health Wales’s success, the advice from suppliers at our Supplier Engagement Event, and feedback from the Office for the Future group who represented staff views all shaped the outcome of the project and endorsed our objective of furnishing our headquarters with used, refurbished and remanufactured furniture while achieving our brand goals.
We wanted to prioritise remanufactured and refurbished furniture since its environmental footprint is 80% less than that of new furniture. Where second-hand furniture was unavailable, Rype Office undertook local sourcing of much of the new furniture. Colleagues were given the opportunity to take part in key decision-making by joining the Office for the Future Group, which met regularly to discuss the best use of office space and inform the project managers. The group conducted a “sense maker” survey throughout the organisation to understand needs and expectations. Feedback has revealed that the design of the office and the furniture has exceeded expectations of our colleagues and they are excited to move in.
Social value outcomes
We wanted to prioritise remanufactured and refurbished furniture since its environmental footprint is 80% less than that of new furniture. Where second-hand furniture was unavailable, Rype Office undertook local sourcing of much of the new furniture. Only 19% of the furniture in the office is new, of which 13% was locally sourced. We achieved:
- 30% of the furniture in the office is reused from Transport for Wales.
- 49% of the furniture is reused from other organisations.
- 3% of the furniture was handmade in Pentre by employees of Merthyr Institute for the Blind.
- All staff were paid the Real Living Wage.
- 13% of the furniture is new and locally sourced, and another 6% is new and sourced outside of Wales.
- This project has saved 92,784 kgs CO2 and 32,141 kgs of furniture.
Since the cost of remanufactured furniture is far less than if it were new, we were able to direct funds to purchase more expensive items, such as meeting pods, which offer our colleagues more ways to work flexibly. The project cost £650,000 and Rype estimate that, should we have purchased the office furniture as new to the specifications we have, it would have cost us £1.2 million.
Working with social enterprises, we were able to create employment for disadvantaged people and also increase the profile of Merthyr Institute for the blind through investment, enabling them to acquire new machinery, hire more people, and increase skills within their workforce. This project has set a precedence for future projects.
Furniture and related services were procured from businesses within a 20-mile radius. Merthyr Tydfil Institute for the Blind provided long-term employment to five local refurbishers with disabilities. We specify the National Living Wage for all our supply chain and, on this procurement, nine staff working on the project were paid the Real Living Wage. Progress was shared with all staff as furniture was selected and installed and feedback was positive. Our Office for the Future group represented staff views and encouraged employee engagement. By using a circular economy approach we have been able to overcome the common perception of second-hand furniture being shabby or ineffective. This has encouraged colleagues to engage with sustainability and learn more about the circular economy, which, in turn, influences sustainable behaviours at home. It has also helped us to build our culture internally and to normalise collaborative and innovative ways of working.
Overall, the project was a tangible demonstration of the direction we are driving our brand. Working with social enterprises, we were able to create employment for disadvantaged people and also increase the profile of Merthyr Institute for the blind through investment, enabling them to acquire new machinery, hire more people, and increase skills within their workforce. It encouraged us to consider ways we are embedding the Well-being of Future Generations Act and equality, diversity and inclusion principles into our work and has set a precedence for future projects.
Submission by Natalie Rees, Sustainable Development Manager, Transport for Wales
Judging comments from Guy Battle
This award is being presented to Transport for Wales – Llys Cadwyn Sustainable Office Fit Out. A simple refurbishment, but with the WBFG used to map goals. Initiatives included minimum wage across all suppliers, working with local supply chain and seeking to use with social enterprises in the delivery of the work. The judges felt this was an excellent example of how a simple refurbishment can deliver against the WBFG goals.
They considered a range of ideas:
- Climate change
- Living wage and fair work
- Local supply chain engagement
In addition, they also integrated the seven Well-being Goals from the offset, with really good metrics and reporting. Terrific submission.