Meet Simon Booth, Head of Premises & Facilities at Moore Kingston Smith

SMKS 7048

Can you tell us about your role in the Moore Kingston Smith project?

I was the client lead. A lot of what I was doing was about ensuring that the requirements of Moore Kingston Smith and our aspirations were respected. So I worked closely with the spacelab_ team to make sure they had access to Moore Kingston Smith, that they understood us as a business but also that they understood what we needed the project to deliver so that when it was completed, everybody was happy with it.

When curating the brief for the space, what were the most important elements to be considered?

It was really important for us that when we were building the brief, we were doing this project with partners who could really help us. That was really key in terms of working with spacelab. We talked to several companies but felt that the team at spacelab understood what we were trying to achieve and our needs and growth as a business. We are quite a strong growth business, so we knew two years ago we would be bigger by the time it was finished, and it needed to allow us to continue growing in the future.

We needed a headquarters, a workspace or a workplace and one of the things we said is that we required ‘a statement of intent’ and that came out from the first meetings we had with spacelab, and that statement is throughout, that was really important stuff for us.

How has the design enhanced your ability to work in the space?

The design is fantastic, I’m probably biased, but I think it’s amazing. The journey to get to that design was slightly disrupted by covid, but the principles behind that stayed the same. We see this really as an enterprise hub where people coming together to collaborate and being able to sit face to face and dictate their own working behaviours.

Before, we were traditional; there was one desk per person, lots of storage, and a fixed way to work. We moved into a space that is much more flexible, and that absorbs many different requirements. In terms of collaboration, would it be speaking with clients, between the teams or people having knowledge transfer. We have effectively combined all these requirements into one floor, and by doing so, we have already seen the benefits of enhanced collaborations, engagement, and knowledge transfer around the business.

These are the key things I’ve seen already in terms of efficiency and improvement, and we’ve only been there a few weeks, so I’m sure there will be many more to come.

How did people react when they saw their new workspace?

It was brilliant; on the opening day, I sat near the entrance, and you could see their faces lighting up and their mouths dropping. We drip-fed some CGIs and photos as the building project went on, so people knew it would look nice, but I don’t think they realised how good it would look. The wow factor has been amazing, and now everyone wants to come to the office. So we are very pleased with that.

All projects have challenges; what did the team come up against, and what were the solutions?

There have been a lot of challenges, probably not different from the challenges in any business at the moment. Costs are very difficult, labour is a scarce resource, and covid has been very disruptive, but spacelab_ has been brilliant in terms of solutions. The project manager has been on top of the project program and managed to claim back time when it came to the technologies and the furniture.

We worked closely with the spacelab team regarding where costs needed to be; they came up with alternative solutions, ways of working or different products. It has been challenging, but it has also been good fun, and we got where we wanted to be.

What is your favourite part of the new space?

It’s hard to tell; there’s a lot! I would say probably the social hub; I really like it. It’s a giant collaborative area, part coffee shop, part client space, part entertaining space; It’s very multi- functional. I really like the ability to sit there and just watch people having those conversations over a coffee, those interactions with people they might not necessarily speak to during the day. It has been really good for me, especially after the pandemic when there has been a lot of working from home and isolation. These kinds of unique collaborative moments have been really powerful.

One question we ask everyone, unrelated to the project: if you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

I would really like England to win the world cup.