Creating an office for the future

March 8, 2021

As Womble Bond Dickinson prepares for its move to Newcastle Helix, Steven Hugill speaks to Emma Moody, partner, charities team lead and member of the firm’s office steering group, to find out more.

Why has the business taken the decision to move its two Newcastle offices to a new base?

We are very proud of our history but ultimately saw this as an ideal time for change and wanted to bring our two existing offices under one roof.

We’re looking forward to our move to the Newcastle Helix, which offers a collaborative ecosystem for public and private companies and is considered a hub of innovation in Europe.

As a firm dedicated to embracing and driving innovation in the legal sector, it is a perfect fit for us.

What will The Spark provide the firm that it doesn’t presently have in its existing Trinity and St Ann’s Wharf sites?

The move to Newcastle Helix and a brand-new building gives us the opportunity to design and fit out an office for the future. The new space will cater for people who like to work in different ways and will encourage collaboration through use of co-working spaces.

Our people are very important to us and we want to provide the best possible working environment for them.

You highlight the “collaborative ecosystem” of Newcastle Helix. How important was this a factor in your decision to move and how do you see it benefiting the business going forward?

Very important. There is a huge opportunity to collaborate and learn from businesses operating in the technology, healthcare, life sciences, clean energy and advanced manufacturing sectors.

How will your new office reflect the collaborative environment to which you refer? Is the business including any specific design features to promote new ways of working?

The office will be open plan and designed as an activity-based office with spaces to facilitate different ways of working. It will include a number of different spaces, such as quiet library rooms, a café deli, workshop areas as well as desk space.

How much was this move born out of the changing landscape brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic? Is it a direct response, or were you already looking for a new base?

Although we were already planning our move before COVID-19, the final design will be in response to the impact of the pandemic, which has challenged conventions of office working and is pushing businesses to adopt more flexible and innovative working styles.

Pictured: Emma Moody

Staying with coronavirus, the pandemic has markedly changed the way companies engage with clients. With traditional face-to-face meetings having given way to digital calls over the last year, will the business still provide scope in its new office for in-person chats with clients?

Absolutely, we are excited about welcoming our clients into our new office and will have large amount of space set aside for meetings and events, including an outdoor balcony on the 11th floor. We’ll also be looking at how we can use technology to facilitate hybrid meetings and events.

You are a company with centuries of history in Newcastle. How much of a factor was this when the firm was considering a move to new premises? Was staying in the city centre a crucial element to any move?

Staying in the city centre was crucial for both our clients and people. We are committed to play our role in supporting economic recovery of the region and felt that, ultimately, we needed to be based in the city centre.

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