BCG: reinventing the future

When the source of your revenue is consulting on change, it can be hard to find the time to change yourself. But this isn’t the case for Boston Consulting Group, who utilised Leesman to adapt its new spaces to changing business needs and expectations. We look at their new London office, a shining example of how embracing change delivers success.

Key takeaways

Sector: Management Consulting
Survey conducted: June 2022
Location: London
Target population: 400+ employees
Leesman survey deployed: Leesman Office core survey

Lmi overall score: 79.3*
Leesman Office benchmark: 65.0
Leesman+ benchmark: 74.8

*For 80 Charlotte Street

By utilising Leesman, BCG has been able to appraise the performance of its workplace and benchmark against other assessed BCG offices and externally to other leading organisations. After signing a new lease at 80 Charlotte Street in 2018, in Derwent London’s beautifully crafted Central London redevelopment, BCG was determined to use Leesman’s insights and work with Piercy&Company to invest in a people-led approach at all stages of the design process for the new flagship office.

To ensure the design met the needs of its people, they assembled a task force of employees from across the business. One of the architects who worked on the design, Isabel de la Mora from Piercy&Company, was struck by the quality of engagement. From the Chief Executive down to the most junior employee, “everybody was equally passionate”, she notes, comparing the experience to designing a family home – “except for 400 people rather than two parents and three kids”. Using insights gained from the Leesman Office survey before the design process began, the project focused on four integral elements: people, mobility, sustainability and wellbeing. The approach paid off: the Leesman Index score (Lmi) in 2022 was 79.3. The Lmi score is a universal measure of how well a location supports the employees who use it on a simple 0-100 scale. By receiving a score above 70, BCG’s 80 Charlotte Street office was eligible for a Leesman+ certification, which is awarded to workplaces that consistently provide outstanding employee experience.

Learning from the past for the future
With over 100 buildings worldwide, it is no surprise that BCG wants to take inspiration from other offices in its property portfolio when designing workspaces. This was clear in the design of 80 Charlotte Street, which was influenced by BCG’s New York office at Hudson Yards. For example, the opportunity for ‘accidental meetings’ is integral to Hudson Yards. As Andy Veitch, Managing Director and Partner, notes, it is about ensuring people are “fully mobile and flowing through the building and space, and not just sat at the same desk all day”. De la Mora agrees, “A big part of the brief we developed with BCG was about all these places that were just for human interaction, like the idea of collaboration and sharing knowledge and bumping into other people.” With this underpinning the design, they needed to ensure the integration of the various BCG divisions – to both underpin the ethos of ‘One BCG’ while also reflecting the strength of each unit.

“There are a lot of angles and corners and turns,” says Hailey Wood, Business Operations Manager at BCG Digital Ventures. “That’s a deliberate design element to aid bumping into people.”

BCG colleagues are encouraged to visit and mingle with BCG DV staff in an adaptable social space which lends itself to a beer pong competition one day and a lecture the next. Leesman research often points to the importance of connection on an employee’s day and how ‘Informal unplanned meetings’ and ‘Informal social interactions’ are pivotal. This focus on BCG employees came through in the final design. BCG’s insights from the 2022 survey revealed that 77.9% of employees stated that their workplace supports ‘Informal unplanned meetings’ and 89.7% of employees agreed that their workplace contributed to a ‘Sense of community’. Piercy&Company’s design includes a unique feature staircase wide enough for employees to have conversations on while going up and down, and breakout spaces, allowing people who bump into each other to sit and chat.

The impact of the pandemic
Although it delayed the build by a few months, Covid-19 allowed BCG to truly understand the accelerating trends happening naturally, including the shift to hybrid and virtual working. It also highlighted the importance of viewing the office not just as a workplace, but as a space to connect with others – for myriad purposes. For Veitch, this was by far one of the most exciting successes of the project. “People come to the office because they want to be there. And certainly, a lot of it is wanting to be with other people”. It provides opportunities to be social, learn from others in the BCG apprenticeship model and be surrounded by a diverse group of people and, importantly, to collaborate.

A super home for talent
Another driver was attracting and retaining top talent by providing a comfortable, appealing working environment, or a ‘super home’, as Veitch calls it.

From BCG’s earlier Leesman Office survey results, it was clear that more emphasis was needed on making the working environment a more enjoyable place to work in and specifically focusing on ‘connective’ activities.

After re-strategising and changing the design, this was no longer a concern. Overall agreement that the London flagship office was an enjoyable place to work rose to a landmark 93.5% in 2022.

To create this ‘super home’, the architects spent time talking to people – particularly new graduates – about what elements would make them feel comfortable. “We’d ask, what was your favourite space when you were at university?” says de la Mora. “That’s why we have a library space.” Collaboration, meeting areas and quiet rooms are important to a generation who have to fight for study space in shared flats; satisfaction regarding ‘Quiet rooms for working alone or in pairs’ increased by 41.2 percentage points from 2018 to 2022.

Wellbeing at the top of the agenda
A focus on mental wellbeing was also vital. Emphasis was placed on the importance of environmental control, for example, by giving employees power over lighting, temperature, windows, fresh air and desk set-up.

In response to earlier challenges highlighted within the Leesman data about the presence of ‘Natural light’ in the previous office, the BCG team worked hard to ensure that this was no longer a gripe. The careful design of the process, across each floor, ensured that ‘Natural light’ was freely available. This led to 78.2% of respondents satisfied with the levels of ‘Natural light’ in 2022, more than the global benchmark.

The power of flexibility and mobility
Another driver was the need to facilitate future growth. “We’re a high-growth business, but the real estate industry is set up for long-term letting with static space,” Veitch explains. “We needed to be expanding and adapting our space for different needs and different ways of working all the time.”

For the short term, reconfigurable spaces were included – meeting rooms with acoustic dividers and screens that can be split into two parts, or smaller meeting spaces with movable furniture. In the medium term, flexibility was built into working areas which replicate neighbourhoods of different sizes, allowing teams to be reallocated as they grow at different rates.

This flexibility was also essential for a workforce that relies on collaborative spaces that spark creativity.

A space for sustainability
The pandemic provided the opportunity for sustainability to be at the forefront of workplace strategies, and BCG was no exception. Insights from the company’s Leesman Office survey highlighted this success, with 77.7% of employees agreeing that their workplace positively impacts environmental sustainability. A considerable increase from their insights in 2018.

The increase in rating is clear when understanding the efforts made by the BCG sustainability team to go above and beyond. When finding out that the energy demand was higher than the electricity supply, the team acted and negotiated with the landlord to create an all-electric office – one of the largest electric offices of its size and type.

A forever cycle
The success of a workplace is best judged by the reaction of its occupants. When asked what he is most proud of, Veitch is clear: “The reaction I see in people when I come in. I think you can design an office that’s ‘wow’ on day one but then gets a bit tired. People still love it and come to the office because they choose to, not because they are told to. I’m really proud of that.”

His pride is borne out by the post-occupancy Leesman Office survey: 92.2% agreed that their workplace was a place they’re proud to bring visitors to, surpassing the global benchmark by 39.6 percentage points.

As Wood concludes, “The office is not somewhere where people have to come any more. You’ve got to do more than put a chair and desk out for staff. It has to be a destination. That’s really the design concept: would they want to be here? Will they be sad to leave? And I think so far, so good.”

BCG’s 80 Charlotte Street is a clear example of embracing change and delivering success. When organisations utilise and understand people through Leesman insights and are as dedicated as BCG at placing people at the centre of workplace strategies, it is no surprise BCG’s office gained a Leesman+ certification.

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