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Office design: How to cater to different working needs

The client
Altium is a global software company, with headquarters in San Diego, California, providing innovative PCB Design Software to the electronics industry.  

The brief
Like many other companies, COVID-19 impacted Altium’s way of working and they were keen to create an inclusive work environment, focused on employee needs, to encourage staff back to the office.  

Altium had sales and research and development (R&D) offices in England and wanted to bring the two together. We were asked to design an office that would cater to the differing needs of each team, whilst still allowing for collaboration and synergy between the departments.  

Key challenges
The key consideration was to deliver an office that was commercially viable, whilst also delivering the best working environment for sales and R&D teams. Challenges included:  

  1. Integrating the existing furniture from the recently closed German offices to ensure minimal waste.  
  2. To ensure brand consistency by choosing materials used in the US offices. As many materials were not easily available in the UK, the team had to source comparable alternatives.  
  3. Combining the global brand identity with the UK staff’s expectations for the office space.  
  4. We also had to consider Altium’s desire to expand its UK operation, by delivering a flexible space with room to grow.

Our solution
Sustainability as a top priority
Altium placed a strong emphasis on sustainability, so our design team recommended sustainable materials as well as repurposing unused furniture. 50% of the furniture was reused and the remaining pieces were sustainable: 

  • Tarkett Airmaster Nazcar Gold used throughout the open plan: First and only carpet product awarded with GUI Gold Plus label/100% recyclable DESSO EcoBase backing/ Cradle to Cradle®️ Gold level certified. Additionally, it also reduces the concentration of fine dust in the indoor air. 
  • Tarkett Carpet: 100% recyclable / 100% recyclable DESSO EcoBase baking /Cradle to Cradle®️ Gold and Silver Level certified. 
  •  Tarkett Serene Carpet:100% regenerated ECONYL yarn. 
  • Tarkett Homogenous Vinyl circular selection: recyclable at end of life & Phthalate free. 
  • Autex Composition wall-mounted acoustics utilised in meeting rooms: PET and carbon neutral. 

We were also able to store the furniture at our local warehouse once shipped to the UK to avoid multiple journeys.   

Acoustics and AV
With the US team having experienced some issues with background noise during meetings, our planning process focused on improving the acoustic performance of the meeting spaces; increasing the specification of the partition and doors. 

Throughout the entire project, we worked closely with Altium’s AV (Audio Visual) consultant to ensure the best possible level of connectivity for international meetings. 

Unifying the global brand
To ensure the Altium brand remained consistent, the design team took inspiration from the client’s headquarters in California and all other offices.  

From the carpet detailing to glazing and its manifestations; to the tea point island, countertops and the furniture – branding was key. We then added touches of a more UK-centric design, to maintain the elements the Cambridge team had grown to love at their current office in the Bradfield Centre. 

Defining spaces for employee wellbeing
The team made sure to include biophilic elements and access to fresh air, whilst planning the space to deliver open plan desking, as well as communal spaces for breakout and collaboration. It comprises: 

  • Open plan desking  
  • Meeting spaces  
  • Boardroom  
  • Light lab space  
  • Cellular offices  
  • Reception area  
  • Tea point  
  • Recreational breakout 
  • Wellness space  
  • Collaboration spaces 

The outcome 
The client is extremely happy with the completed fit-out and Altium is already looking at plans to grow the R&D team in Cambridge.  

The completed office reflects the great working relationship between the COEL team and the client, where design boundaries were challenged, and helpful suggestions were made on areas where a UK-centric style and functionality choice could be made.

Altium Collage

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