Grant Thornton has opened a business hub in Essex, its second in the UK. The consulting firm encourages clients to use this new space for meetings or informal working areas next to its staff, so that they can meet, network, and work together. The launch of the hub follows the trend of many companies that are developing flexible working methods in a bid to lower operating costs.
Grant Thornton’s latest business hub opened its doors in Chelmsford, Essex, following the success of its St. Albans hub. The hub seeks to provide a space for business and clients to mingle in an office without the traditional office furniture. Gone are desk and work places – in return, two thirds of the office is open space with low back high stalls.
Paul Dearsley, who heads Grant Thornton’s new Chelmsford space, explains: “It’s unusual for a big firm like Grant Thornton to be this dramatic. Whereas most offices have gone the other way, closing or slowly shrinking their office network to save on overheads, Grant Thornton is bucking the trend and operating things differently.”
Shift it practice
The move to innovation with office space follows more general trends in the consulting industry as more and more consultants are on the road. With much of the traditional office space now abandoned, Grant Thornton is seeking to provide a space collaboration instead. The new hubs are, according to Dearsley, “a place to do business rather than a place to do work.” Much like the local coffee place attracting flexible copywriters and graphic designers, in its new space clients can pour themselves coffee at the breakfast bar, log on to the Wi-Fi and engage with Grant Thornton staff at the office.
By literally opening the firm’s doors to clients, as a space in which they can come work and collaborate with the firm’s staff, the consulting firm is improving prospects. “By getting people in it should lead to opportunities not just to us, but all those people connecting,” Dearsley says.
According to Dearsley, the new use of the space will take time to percolate into the practice of clients, as many clients feel they need a formal invitation to turn up to someone else’s place of business. This will change however, Dearsley remarks, when businesses notice the powerful networking space available to them – and the opportunities that can grow from collaboration. “Rather than people sit in a coffee shop with their laptop trying to do your work while a few kids scream around them, friends of Grant Thornton can pitch up at our coffee bar, without any screaming kids, and who knows who will walk in and sit next to you.”