Aon is a global provider of risk management, insurance and re-insurance brokerage and human resource solutions. Formed in 1982 when Ryan Insurance Group merged with Combined International Corporation, the company became Aon five years later in 1987 and established itself on Wall Street shortly after. Over the next 30 years, the company has grown to become one of the largest insurance providers in the world, with 66,000 employees generating $12billion in revenues, located in 500 offices in 120 countries.
Aon's global headquarters are based in London; where until recently, its 3,200 employees were divided amongst four separate office buildings located around the historic Devonshire Square, a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street Station.
After a period of merger and acquisition Aon had the opportunity to consolidate its London-based market facing employees into a single iconic, central new headquarters building. Working with its property consultancy CBRE, it signed the lease on The Leadenhall Building located at 122 Leadenhall Street in the heart of the City’s insurance market, and opposite the instantly recognisable Lloyd’s of London building. Occupying such a pivotal position in the heart of the city’s insurance district, The Leadenhall Building provides Aon with a sustainable and modern environment located in one of London’s tallest buildings. Recognised by the industry, it has already scooped ‘The City of London Building of the Year 2015’.
In considering its relocation, Aon wanted to understand its space requirements and office utilisation better. Since the company was residing in expensive London real estate, having a space strategy is critical in managing costs.
Gensler, Aon’s interior architect carried out an initial observational study across Aon’s four London offices to establish a better understanding of how employees were using their workspace. It found that while there was a desk for every employee the desks were on average only occupied between 50 – 60% of the time, therefore lending itself to a more agile workplace strategy.
Further utilisation studies were completed working with CBRE and using sensor technology from Abintra to achieve a more granular and detailed view of the desk occupancy across the whole business to ensure the correct agility ratio could be applied to the workplace designs and following these the decision was made to move from a traditional 1:1 desk based occupation to an agile environment based on an 8:10 desk to head ratio increasing space utilisation and efficiency significantly.
While no individual has a set workspace and are able to occupy any vacant desk, departments are grouped together to ensure improved collaboration and supported by the many varied types of alternative workspaces provided in the designs. The workforce has been issued with laptops that they can connect to any docking station accessing a screen, keyboard and mouse, and the corporate network but also have the ability to work wirelessly from any space in the building.
As part of the project, Aon retained the lease on 10 Devonshire Square for a section of their workforce. This provided Aon with the flexibility for future growth but also protects them against potential market fluctuations, meaning that they can easily move employees to and from the new agile working locations between buildings.
The embedded CBRE project management team previously established a moves, adds and changes (MAC) team to manage and deliver Aon’s relocation requirements across the UK, of which Redstone was an integral supply partner. Peter Sayers, associate director - Project Management EMEA for CBRE Corporate Outsourcing, comments, “CBRE and Redstone have worked together for over five years delivering MAC project requirements to Aon’s UK offices. This familiar and close relationship with the customer meant that Redstone had detailed knowledge of Aon’s systems and IT department, which meant the implementation was smooth and efficient.”
The consolidation project took place in two phases: the creation of 200,000 sqft of workspaces at The Leadenhall Building and then the refurbishment of the existing 60,000 sqft space at 10 Devonshire Square. The MAC team, which also included Bournes of London on the construction side and removal company T.D Burns, were responsible for the installation of all furniture, fixings, cabling install from the floor up, the agile desktop IT set up and the relocation of staff and the clearance of the old buildings. Redstone were key to the cabling and desktop installation, as well as the move and clearance aspects of the project.
Sayers continues, “Redstone worked closely with the removal and build contractors and our CBRE management team to provide Aon with a comprehensive and coordinated first class MAC delivery service.”
The Leadenhall Building had a new wireless network already in place that was capable of supporting the proposed flexible workspace but required patching from the wired network to the desktop that users could easily connect to via the docking stations. Redstone designed and implemented a tidy and concealed cable management solution for each workspace to provide employees with a seemingly wireless network service.
As an older building however, 10 Devonshire Square provided a number of different challenges. It had an archaic cabling infrastructure in place and required a new network to support wireless and make the agile working environment possible. As a heritage building, Redstone was limited in the level of changes it could make to the fabric of the building while implementing the structured cabling for the wireless network and the cabling from the network to the desktop.
At 10 Devonshire Square, Redstone installed the additional cabling infrastructure required to support the new agile working environment, the new meeting room booking system as well as the AV requirements in the new meeting rooms.
Consolidating Aon’s global headquarters into two offices has provided the company with an efficient working environment that’s better utilised and able to minimise expensive real estate costs while it occupies an iconic section of the London skyline. The new office environment is now tailored to the needs of the workforce and allows employees access to their network and systems from any workstation. As Redstone developed a neat cable management system, Aon’s desktop set-ups are slick and are uncluttered by excessive wiring, continuing the aesthetic created by the interior designers. With Redstone’s assistance in future proofing the IT infrastructure, Aon has better flexibility to support changes within the business that will inevitably happen over the next 10, 15 and 20 years.
Sayers says, “The MAC team delivered all elements of the project on time, on budget and to Aon’s expectations. This was by no means a simple project, but the team worked together to ensure that the implementation was a success. The changes to workplace and subsequent cultural changes required to adapt to a new way of working will take time to settle in before we get a real sense of how much benefit Aon as a business has gained from the project. However the whole team is confident that such a significant improvement in environment and facilities will result in improved engagement and satisfaction of staff and increased productivity as a business.”
Todd Budgen, director of real estate EMEA at Aon commented: “Redstone have been a trusted supply partner of Aon’s for many years now as part of the CBRE managed MAC team. When Aon approached the challenge of the move to not only an new office location but to a new way of working within the office we knew we could rely on the support of Redstone to work with us to design solutions for the new workplace and deliver the transformation as part of the wider MAC team. We believe this will be a revolutionary change for Aon in terms of how they operate with the office and are thankful to Redstone for their part in making the change happen.”