Exciting changes across Concorde Technology Group
Relocating Concorde Technology Group during 2011 to our current HQ location represented a huge milestone.
A casual conversation made me aware of a possible off-market deal that could be done with the owners; fast forward a matter of weeks and the deal was done.
The timing might not have been perfect, but the location and fit certainly were - finding such a prestigious large site with so much parking and land around an ageing but very special building.
Why was it special? The blend of engineering and warehouse space and coupled with a high concentration of office space is hard to find.
Back in 2011, we were not ready to make this leap. We have never been shy, however, about taking leaps to move the business on, or investing in the business infrastructure based on our growth aspirations.
For the last few years, we have been able to shape the property and make changes here and there, often keeping the cost down by using our talented team members to make it happen.
Now Fast forward to 2020, and the world changed as we knew it - as Covid 19 started to take a grip of the UK, forcing many to close offices and work from home, Concorde went into overdrive.
The demand for our technology services exploded - as a key supplier to many UK NHS trusts and UK utility companies, we found ourselves having to adapt quickly and without any service changes. Fortunately, we have very robust business continuity plans in place, and we employ a cloud-first strategy for our applications (coupled with the fact that we were a big Microsoft Teams user - not just for Chat, etc., but the full suite, including Telephone calls and power apps). All this meant we were in a great place to focus on supporting customers, rather than having to adapt to the new normal quickly to survive.
Our team went home safe in minutes thanks to our great setup, though in all the years planning and testing our BCP, we never thought a worldwide pandemic would strike in the way it did, and it wasn’t something we had tested for.
As Covid 19 became all anyone could talk about, we wondered how many weeks this would last. As a board, there was a split view on weeks vs months vs years - even our oldest board member at 72 had never seen anything like this ever before. We all looked at each other for guidance, but it wasn’t there - something that, normally, a board is there for.
As the weeks and months progressed, we saw lockdowns come and go, we saw shielding come and go, and each week our return to “normal” plans changed.
It's fair to say the business has worked well remotely from homes in the pandemic, and we have seen others close buildings for good. With all the technology and ease of remote working available today, however, there is no replacement for walking through the offices and talking to people about their work and challenges and offering help and support to them.
I knew that the 100% home working wouldn’t work for us - we have warehousing and system configuration centres that kept working through the pandemic. Demand has been strong for many years, and I believe this will continue for many more.
As I spent time in an empty 25,000 sq. ft building, I started to think about how we would adapt - what would the future working model be? I called the board together and I took them on a tour of the building; I highlighted areas where returning to the old ways would be impossible unless Covid 19 went away quickly and forever - something that was highly unlikely.
We first looked at our 14 person service desk - it was not possible to even expect people to be in such a small space together based on what we knew about Covid 19 at the time.
The first decision was to relocate the service desk from the first floor to the ground floor and refurbish 3 offices and open them up into 1 large spacious secure work area.
We got working with our team and contractors immediately, and within weeks we had a super Covid-safe 32 person service desk space. It is private, quiet, and all set up so anyone can work on their desk of choice and stay safe.
It is equipped with big wall screens with important data readily available, and each desk is set up with huge dual monitors and wireless keyboards and mice, and Covid safety Screens between each person. It's fair to say that I am pleased with the result - everything is a custom set up and the cables are all custom length and hidden in the new desk systems. It is a really clean professional space.
Our service management can now continue as they can drive improvement in this area, and our service desk can provide engaging, quality service that can be accessed anywhere from desktops or mobile devices.
We have implemented new software to increase end-user satisfaction, with ultra-fast responsiveness. And we believe we can reduce IT support costs beyond basic operational efficiencies.
Our configuration centre has been developed further to enable us to be able to configure devices from all manufacturer’s now, at a much greater speed than before. We encourage our clients to come and see our capabilities in person.
We then focused on reception and all areas of entry to the building. We installed counters and Covid screens everywhere to keep the team safe from deliveries and essential visitors, etc.
Next, we worked on social spaces. We built a spacious team room - somewhere the team can get away from the desk and take 5, or. hopefully post-pandemic. we can enjoy a coffee or beer as a team after hours. We have also installed a café bar and pool tables. I’m really pleased with this space - it belongs to the team, and it’s also the area where we can have huddles, fuddles, and even customer meetings and events - it’s a real dynamic space that can be used for so many things.
I am sure your Concorde contact will be in touch to welcome you back to Concorde HQ, where we hope to showcase and demonstrate many new and upcoming technologies as we have done in the past.
I know several of our technology partners are looking to host corporate briefings again as soon as we possibly can.
All Daily Grind cafe spaces have had a full refurb - they all now have a modern Starbucks style feel, and one even has a 30ft view of the beach and sea at Scarborough.
All meeting rooms have been redecorated and had comfortable chairs and new tables installed. They all have Microsoft Teams collaboration systems installed, so we can meet each other and clients remotely and safely.
Teams has certainly been developed rapidly into becoming the communication tool of choice, and Concorde would be delighted to show you how we have integrated Teams into our business, as well as showcasing several complementary products around the Teams suite and how this could benefit your business.
Finally, we looked at the main office on the first floor. These were all individual offices that housed 7-8 people per office and had walkways between each office. Each office was drafty, and either hot or cold due to the air conditioning battling each other from room to room.
I called the board back and proposed that we needed to refurbish each area. I then explained my vision of taking all the walls down and making it open plan. I then presented the cost difference, and explained that we would never get another opportunity to do this - our team were already working remotely, and this was the only chance to demolish everything. The frowns then turned to nods of approval and the decision was done - it was a big, expensive project, but we must invest in times like this. Over the years Concorde has always successfully adapted, and I believe it is one of our main core strengths that makes us agile.
The contractor was able to start quickly and within a week everything had been demolished. We spent weeks in jeans and boots as the place was a real building site. We replaced everything and started with a blank room - over the coming weeks, the new ceiling, lights and flooring were installed, and I could see my vision start coming to life. The board members came together for a look at the progress and their amazement said it all - the space created was vast and spacious, and as the fit and trim continued, it became a fitting modern space for a successful technology company.
As the building work and fit-out came to an end, we then looked at the layout and how working had possibly changed forever.
We have now fitted out all of the areas with new bench desks and lockers for team members, and some great collaboration areas for team members to meet and talk through ideas and solutions. The fit and finish are perfect - I am so proud of what we have achieved during a difficult time, and as and when our team members come back, I am sure they will love it, too.
Everything is also eco-friendly - all lights are LED, roof spaces are highly insulated, and the materials should last years.
We still have some other areas to invest in as we grow, but for now, I look forward to welcoming our team and customers and visitors into our offices.
So why did we do this? Investment! We are a technology company - we are modern, agile and proud of who we are, and how we have changed over the years. Yes, the pandemic made us think about safety and space, but the main reason was that we just couldn’t move out of a building that is perfect for our needs - the location is amazing, and we have loads of parking.
We could have moved into the city or a business park, but we would have lost so many benefits. This, coupled with the fact our amazing team were keeping the business running remotely from bedrooms, home offices and kitchens across the UK, meant we could go for a big demolition and rebuild.
Once again, I am so proud of what we have achieved, and thank you to the whole team that made this happen.
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