The Freuds office used to sit over five floors in a soon-to-be-repurposed Fitzrovia building. With about 250 staff together yet divided in one building, it was all too easy for everyone to only really converge at the Christmas party. This created a somewhat inevitable level of talent and development wastage; people who had the potential to work brilliantly together might rarely have come into contact.
The ethos of last year’s office move was all about facilitating connectivity, transparency, positive disruption and, above all, purposeful creativity.
As a full-service consultancy that had previously fuelled the traditional consumer/corporate agency divide through our office layout, we deliberately created an open space in which our different client teams would rub shoulders with each other daily. This created connectivity and collaboration, facilitating new ways of thinking across practices and in individuals alike.
We now constantly learn from one another and a positive sense of disruption has grown right across the business, as teams challenge the work – and ways of working – by offering other lateral perspectives.
The relationship between consumers and corporations has clearly changed – with purpose and values being more important than ever before – and so we designed our office to mirror this evolution. Divisions and disciplines were immediately merged together and quickly became "undivided". Internal meeting spaces are also now open and central to the floor, representing the transparency and trust that are so important for today’s consumers and companies. With physical barriers removed, cross-team collaboration – be it planned or spontaneous – happens every day. We have never been better set up to drive game-changing creativity on behalf of all our clients.
Creativity, however, is seldom driven by the layout of the desks. The main floor is also full of artworks, both conflicting and complementary, which range from portraits made of Lego to fragments of Victorian fairground rides. A variety of meeting and seating areas set different tones for teams to talk, from intimate church pew "confessionals" for creative congregations to extendable drawing-board work stations for essential campaign planning.
With the business now in its 31st year, Freuds celebrates both its heritage for success and ambitions for the future throughout its new space.
Nowhere is this better perceived than in our entrance lobby (OK, so not "the working floor"), which houses a collection of carefully selected art and artefacts in a chequerboard "curiosity" wall, nodding to great communicators and communications past and present. An original Enigma machine brushes up against a Banksy, inspiring colleagues and guests alike as they pass through the building, while an original Obama collage by Shepard Fairey sums up both our new working home and approach to the future in just one word. Progress.
Ben Brooks-Dutton is the creative planning director at Freuds