Why I renovated a Victorian castle for my staff

 
Chris Morling
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Would you leave the City to work in a castle? (Source: money.co.uk)

Star Wars cinema, tick. Gym, tick. Ice cave, tick. Library with secret door, tick. OK, they may not be essentials for an office space but when your office is a castle, why on earth not?

For a company based outside of London, attracting and maintaining the best talent is paramount to our success, so I re-invested £3m into a castle in Cirencester to make it a place people want to work. It was no easy task, which is why I brought Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen in to take the lead with the design, aided by the needs and desires of my 50 strong staff.

From a 98 inch TV to a Rolling Stones themed bathroom, no holds were barred. It took 150 people over a year to install 12.5 miles of cable to 30 screens, speakers and iPads. None of it is necessary, but if it makes my staff happy, then I’m happy.


Fancy a meeting in here? (Source: money.co.uk)

Listen to your team

The starting point for the castle redesign was to consult with everyone in the office to find out what they wanted and needed from the revamp.

This made it far easier to define the purpose of every room and all the facilities that they needed. It was only at that point that the creative juices started to flow and crazy ideas were suggested.

Castles are pretty cool buildings, but they present issues for a modern office space, not least the smaller rooms which result in separated teams. However, by working closely with English Heritage we were able to remove some recently added walls in order to create larger, open spaces that naturally support greater collaboration and easier communication.

The team wanted flexibility in how and where they worked – a quiet working area for when you really want to knuckle down and focus, or a standing desk so you can stretch your legs and back as your fingers dance across the keyboard.


How much work would you get done in here? (Source: money.co.uk)

Happy staff won’t leave. Simple

If you can create an environment where every member of your team loves coming into work, everyone wins. Not only do your team enjoy life more, but your business also benefits massively. Simply put, people should be treated well, because they’re people. But it also makes sound business sense. A happy and engaged team are more productive, more creative and take less sick days.

If staff are happy they don’t leave, which builds invaluable knowledge within the business and reduces time and money on recruitment.


The refurb cost over £3m (Source: money.co.uk)

Attracting talent

Another reason to provide an ultimate work environment is because it helps you to attract new talent to your business, especially if you’re not based in the heart of a large city. Creative spaces shouldn’t be left at the doors of the advertising agencies and tech firms. Every working environment should provide stimulus to help your staff fire on all cylinders.


Does your office have a Star Wars cinema? (Source: money.co.uk)

Reward your people

Taking staff on holiday and providing them with an ice cave aren’t always possible. But buying them ice creams on a hot day or advent calendars at Christmas doesn’t go unnoticed. But not every benefit has to cost money – flexible working hours are one of the most sought after benefits and there’s no direct cost.

If a company is profitable it seems reasonable that the team who put in the effort to make it happen should share in that success, and that’s the philosophy behind many of the benefits at money.co.uk.

Benefits such as free football and basketball can be so much more than a simple perk. They can help build relationships and bond a team – not to mention helping them balance the scary amount of time that can be spent sat at a desk.


A working kettle usually suffices – but this staff kitchen has a fussball table (Source: money.co.uk)

Great for business

Investing in your team is worth every single penny. If all the reasons mentioned here weren’t enough, think about this; if you create an environment where your team are treated like kings and queens, how do you think they’ll treat your customers?

Chris Morling is managing director of money.co.uk.

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