NKD's move to hybrid working

NKD’s move to hybrid working

In June this year, NKD moved its London base from a private office in the City to an office within a co-working space in Soho. At the same time we introduced a hybrid approach – working from the office and working from home, as well as flexible hours. Arkin Salih, NKD’s People and Operations Director, explains why this was the right move for NKD, and why it could be the right move for you too.

Why change?

We’d actually been thinking about this for a while. Reports and studies on the workplace of the future, along with feedback from the NKD team, were telling us that the world of work was changing, and we wanted something different from our place of work. Then the pandemic showed us that a different way of working is possible. We don’t all need to be in the same building and have all our meetings face-to-face, and we certainly don’t have to all do 9 to 5. While I know that for some businesses that might be required, the days of that being the default are numbered, and a hybrid way of working is emerging. 

What do people want?

I think what we all want from our world of work is autonomy – to feel empowered to do the right thing for my organisation and for myself. And so when it comes to the workplace, that means the ability to decide for myself where is best for me to work from that day. If I have a day of client calls that aren’t face to face anyway, what’s the point of me travelling to the office? Likewise when I have a day where I need to be able to focus on a really detailed piece of work. But what I do want is a space to connect with my team, where we can be creative, scope out projects and work through things, and get together for the moments that matter such as team celebrations. We want a base where we can host our clients and collaborate on their projects, that feels connected and central.

It’s also about what we don’t want. After almost a year and a half of working from home, do I really want to go back to commuting an hour each way, every day, either behind the wheel or on a hot and crowded train? Honestly, no I don’t. That’s why I think we’re seeing a real rise in hybrid working right now. 

How has NKD approached the shift to hybrid working? 

Like all things at NKD, we made sure we approached this together, as a team. We checked-in with everyone individually and as a team, to understand what everyone did and didn’t want, personally and collectively. We looked at what we need to be able to do our jobs brilliantly, and most importantly, we defined what our clients need from us.

The answer was:

1. Defining clearly what we mean by hybrid working, supported by clear policy and procedures

2. Investing in the right equipment, both in the office and at home

3. Choosing a space that allows us to work, be creative, and connect – as a team and with our clients

What does this look like in reality?

In reality, we have a really simple policy that simply states that we need to be in the office a set number of days a month, including of course for key meetings with clients and as a team. Other than that, it’s up to us. I’ll be honest, we questioned if we needed to track this, or put more parameters – but the reality is that everyone at NKD is committed to the work they do and their teammates, so of course they’ll come in when their client is in, and of course they’ll want to come in when their team are or when we’re celebrating; it’s in our NKD DNA. 

We’ve also introduced flexible hours, meaning we can start and finish whatever time we want, as long as we don’t miss our meetings, are available during core hours, and do our weekly hours. 

With regards to equipment, there’s been some investment, but it’s also been about replacing rather than adding to. So instead of desktop computers, we’re all fully mobile with laptops, with screens we can dock in to at the office and at home. It also means ensuring the technology is there to connect remotely, again through our laptops, but also at the office. This means ensuring that all meeting rooms have large screens, easy connectivity, and good quality cameras, speakers and microphones. 

This was the most challenging but also most exciting bit – finding a space that ticked all the boxes. Central, well connected, and somewhere that we all would want to go to; somewhere that could give us the traditional elements, i.e. desks, meeting rooms, kitchen, etc.; a space where we could come together to connect, create and collaborate.

After quite a bit of searching, with the help of Sketch Labs we found the perfect office at Fora Soho, which is part of the Fora Space group. It’s a beautiful co-working space with lots of open planned areas, desks, sofas and booths. There are kitchens on every floor with more tea and milk options that you can shake a stick at, with fruit and snacks provided throughout the day. There’s a roof terrace, a reading room, secure bike storage, and an on-site fitness room. There’s even a personal trainer and complimentary yoga classes. 

How did you design the NKD office?

We took the time to design our private NKD office so that it was perfect for our needs. We chose a space that has incredible floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Soho, and we removed some of the desks to ensure it feels light and spacious. We have roughly half the desks as we do NKDers, all equipped with screen, keyboard, mouse and headphones – making it easy to dock your laptop and take calls when needed.

We added some high tables that have become our social spot for team meetings and chats over coffee, but the right height to act as a standing desk and with stools tucked underneath – for those days when more of us are in the office and we need a little more desk space. There’s even a large screen so that anyone working from home can dial in and be part of any team conversations.

Open shelving, some storage for us to tuck away our bits and pieces, and lots of plants finish off the space – oh, and of course the wine fridge! 

What’s the feedback been?

I’m pleased to say it has been great! The team at Fora have been incredibly complimentary about how we have personalised our space and have been on hand to support our move in. One or two clients have already visited and have loved it. And though at the time of writing this we’re still in lockdown measures and socially distancing, the team have started gradually popping in and are enjoying the space too.

After: NKD’s new office space

We’ve had a few teething problems – mostly with some of us forgetting how to connect to the large screens for team calls (and by some of us I mean me!) but other than that, because we planned it and worked with the NKD team every step of the way, I can hand on heart say it has been pretty seamless.

On a final note, would you recommend a shift to hybrid working?

Yes! It does take some thought, research and planning, and the number one thing is to engage the team – but if you do that, you really can create an engaging and modern way of working for your business and your team. We’re all about employee engagement at NKD, and our shift to hybrid working has shown that you can have your cake and eat it – you can give your employees a way of working that they want, a beautiful space they are proud of, and create a great experience for your clients too.

For anyone who wants to chat to me in more detail about how to do this, you know where I am – so don’t hesitate to get in touch. Or for more information on how the Hybrid Work Model may work for you – click here.