Sky wanted to encourage the flow of people and ideas around the business, and to nourish their greatest asset – existing and future talent.

Responsible for the workplace design, Hassell worked closely with design partners AL_A, PLP Architecture, Mace and Arup to meet Sky’s aspiration to “create a unique building and activity-based workplace that would be responsive, inspiring, intuitive and amenity-rich – catering to the energetic, fast-paced Sky way of working”.

With each floor averaging 11,500 sqm – the equivalent width of three jumbo jets – the space represents one of the UK’s largest agile workplaces. These generous spaces with room to move are great for Sky – but a challenge for Hassell designers, who needed to create a sense of connection and belonging for Sky’s workforce.

‘Neighbourhoods’ and ‘home zones’ make an expansive space feel familiar

Sky looked to Hassell to bring the most progressive, international design thinking to create a ‘game changing’ headquarters which would act as a corporate centre to the expansive Sky Campus, home to 7,500 employees. Sky Central, a completely new design and build, would bring news production into the heart of the building.

To achieve these goals and meet the needs of individual teams, Hassell worked with the client to establish a series of ‘neighbourhoods’ housing around 200 people each. These include a range of individual and team settings – from interactive to focused – to suit every type of activity.

The neighbourhoods are supported by ‘home zones’ – arrival spaces that include small kitchens, meeting tables, and casual sitting areas. These more ‘residential’ settings blur the boundaries between work and home and bring an intimate, human scale to Sky’s expansive workplace.

Key landmarks – including bespoke meeting structures made from metal frames, mesh, coloured ropes and trees placed at 20-metre intervals – help to break down the space even further. These elements, in addition to the extensive planting, help shape quiet areas for individual working, without breaking the sense of connection to the more vibrant, active spaces.

A ‘live lab’ brings agile working to life

For Sky Central to succeed, the company had to ensure employees would embrace their new working environment from day one. Sky undertook a significant change management program, which included developing a ‘live lab’ in partnership with Hassell. This precise mock-up of the workplace enabled employees to experience agile working before they made the permanent move.

The pilot was supported by a dedicated website, roadshows, technology training and the advocacy of 160 change leaders within Sky.

It’s an approach that has paid off. Since moving in, Sky employees have been exceptionally positive – and vocal – about their new workplace, with many of them taking to social media to share their thoughts using #lifeatsky.

Project: Sky Central, London
Design Studio: Hassell
Photo Credit: Mark Cocksedge, Hufton + Crow