By Karen Palmer, Network Solutions Manager
We’re really excited about how our building design has come together at our new Biggleswade depot. We’ve tried to break the mould of what’s gone before, focusing on a workplace which offers our colleagues the very best environment to support their wellbeing, embraces diversity and supports inclusion.
We’ve gone a step further than some of the latest sustainable design building standard guidelines and as well as aspects such as energy use, materials, lighting and air quality, we’ve designed beautiful adaptable, innovative spaces (indoor and outdoor) that focus on wellbeing and mindfulness.
It’s not just about what’s been used in the spaces, but about how those elements make people feel. From the funky industrial entrance tower with raw elements such as exposed brickwork and concrete floors, stone cladding and salvaged materials, to living walls, natural timber and planting – the depot design helps increase a connection with the natural environment – and there’s growing evidence that this sort of approach is great for our wellbeing, health, focus and connection.
We worked with the Logistics Diversity Working Group, to keep inclusion and diversity at the forefront of the design and make sure it reflected our communities. So, the design includes unisex locker areas, all gender and accessible toilets, multi-ethnic facilities (for example, our squat pan toilets and a contemplation area) and spaces that are co-operative, adaptable and available day or night, such as our 24 hour outside areas.
We know that access to green spaces and nature boosts our wellbeing so, between the main building and the yard, our Alan Foster garden (named after a colleague who recently retired) is an outside sanctuary for our colleagues. It’s bordered by a living wall to cancel out noise, and is divided into a private, quiet area, an all-weather relaxing seating area with a pergola, a games area with bean bags and pool and table tennis tables, and an allotment with a framed greenhouse and raised beds for gardening.
All the paint used throughout the depot will focus on air quality and its environmental impact. So, we’ll only used low VOC paints, which lowers our carbon footprint and minimises greenhouse gases. We’ve also repurposed a lot of furniture from some of the Manchester offices that are being redeveloped – great for the environment and all free!
There’s a lot of Co-op brand elements in the design of course. We wanted to show who we are as a Co-op – an ethical business who cares about the inclusion of all its colleagues. Our walkway mural covers 127metres! It’s a great opportunity to showcase the Co-op. We share our Co-op history through the mural and celebrate the great work we do as a Co-op – from the Rochdale pioneers to community, membership, Fairtrade and sustainability, we want our colleagues to be proud of a business that does things differently.
While the depot is up and running, we’re growing our colleague community all the time as we get up to full capacity so it’s great to see more and more colleagues enjoying our beautiful spaces. It’s a huge step change in how our depots are designed and in the working environment we’re giving our colleagues. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved in helping make Biggleswade a great place to work; and one our colleagues can be proud of too.