Transforming Cardiff: A Sustainable and Collaborative Workspace for Legal & General’s New Office – Louise Mains
A new gateway to the capital of Wales
In this article, Pip Henderson talks to Louise Mains, one of our consultants who is currently working as the People & Change Lead at our client, Legal & General, on their programme to move 2,400 employees into a new building in Central Cardiff.
Back in October 2020, L&G announced they were going to move its two group offices in Cardiff into a new 120,000 sq. ft. facility in Cardiff’s Central Square as part of their wider £450m regeneration investment.
The remarkable transformation includes its new £140m office, alongside new offices for the BBC Wales HQ, Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, UK Government Hub and a 30-storey tower of 330 build-to-rent apartments.
A focus on Sustainability and Wellbeing
L&G’s new office space has been designed for the future of work with a focus on sustainability, well-being, and technology, providing colleagues with a collaborative yet agile workspace that meets changes to working practices in the wake of COVID. The new space includes a parenting room, faith & cleansing rooms, cycle and changing facilities, a café, an abundance of social space, a 130+ capacity auditorium and a rooftop terrace.
The focus on well-being can be seen through the buildings’ design, such as air quality, food offered on-site, and access to green planting and lighting, with the building on track to gain 2 of the highest standards of design, BREEAM Outstanding and WELL Platinum accreditations. It will also be the greenest building in Wales, with 500 tonnes of embodied carbon removed from the office design through recycled materials and a 0 reliance on fossil fuels, an important part of their journey to net zero.
I caught up with Louise to find out how it was going as we approached moving everyone into the new space this summer.
What has been the best thing about this role?
The people are definitely the best thing about my role. Listening to their views and working collaboratively on actions. I have a background in both change and operations, so can relate to the people who are moving into the new office and the challenges/concerns they may have.
When I first started in this role, I set up a champion network of over 70 representatives across all the different business areas. This has allowed me to communicate key messages and help with engagement.
One of the biggest concerns identified during this process was the planned use of gender-neutral (universal) toilets only. I completed an independent review and presented a proposal, which resulted in a decision change.
The office will now have a blend of male/female/universal toilets, which is considered most inclusive for all. I have also set up a subset of 40 decision-makers / subject matter experts to help me with key activity that needs to be completed. This has included planning our exit from the existing buildings, the sequencing and order of the 150 teams that need to move across and arranging names to support business continuity testing.
What has been the biggest challenge?
The people! As well as the people being the best part of this role, they can also be my biggest challenge as I have 2,400 customers to keep happy!
A couple of the big decisions that have required a lot of engagement and discussions with colleagues have been:
Sequencing and the order teams are being moved into the new office (as everyone wants to go first!)
Plans around our printer strategy and the quest to get to net zero balanced with operational needs
Communicating there would be no onsite parking (except DDA).
Never underestimate taking the time to get to know your stakeholders and build those relationships – something I think that has really helped in my current role.
What is the best thing for you about working in an interim consulting role?
There are two main benefits of taking on an interim consulting role – variety and time off between roles. I find being an interim you move around more. Typically, you’ll find me wherever the fire needs to be put out and where there’s a large amount of focus (for whatever reason). The ability to think on your feet and get stuck in is a must!
I love to travel, so I try to plan travel gaps between roles so that I can start fresh and ready for my next role.”
About the Interviewee – Louise Mains
Louise is a transformation & change practitioner, with 18 years Financial Services experience in providing change management, transformation and operational leadership.