Grant Thornton set to launch first collaborative working space in the South


Global business advisors and accountancy firm Grant Thornton is launching the first collaborative working space in the region when it opens dynamic new offices at the University of Southampton Science Park in June.

The innovative new environment will see 65 client-facing staff use the new space at the Chilworth site as its base location.  The move is part of the firm’s strategy to bring people together to connect, collaborate, and exchange ideas to promote activities that stimulate growth and create a vibrant economy.

The space provides the platform for the continued development and expansion of the connected community driving growth and prosperity across the region.  The community spans a range of groups and organisations, including private and public sector, not for profit and social enterprise, entrepreneurs, funders, creatives and innovators to name but a few.

This investment will enable Grant Thornton’s networks and regional businesses to make use of the space by exchanging ideas, attending events, accessing expert advice and collaborating in a modern functional environment.

Norman Armstrong, partner at Grant Thornton LLP Southampton, believes the enterprising new environment will bring wide-reaching benefits to its staff, clients and business people predominantly based in the Solent and M3 corridor region.  The team at Grant Thornton is particularly keen to work with the University of Southampton and the innovative organisations in and around the Science Park developing connections with the wider national and international markets and business communities that will establish the region as one of the best places in the UK to start and grow a business.

“We believe today’s world is all about connecting across businesses and industries, between public and private, which we have a strong track record of doing,” Norman said. “Working with dynamic growing businesses is in our DNA, with us providing advice to more than 40,000 companies.

“Linking up with our networks in a collaborative way means we see the challenges of doing business in a complex and interconnected world first hand.”

Grant Thornton already has similar office set-ups in Chelmsford, St Albans, Oxford and London, which has seen staff, client and local business networks benefit from the flexible and inspiring working environment.

Norman says that on an average day less than a third of their colleagues spend all day in the office and as Grant Thornton embraces agile working it expects that to reduce even more.  The space will not be used as a traditional office, with allocated workspaces and permanent desks and offices, nor will it reflect ‘soft’ agile working like hot desking.  It will be market facing used by Grant Thornton clients, contacts, intermediaries and collaboration partners on a regular basis.

“We are not alone in considering how changing technology and working behaviours impact on our office environments.  The space will be a place for people to spend an hour, a day, host a meeting, make a call or hold an offsite team session.  It will also reflect our ambition to be the ‘go to’ firm for growth and our focus on those dynamic organisations that wish to grow.

“The world of work is changing and my colleagues and I are delighted to be at the forefront of this change,” Norman continued. “Many people find that inspiration and ideas come more freely when they are relaxed and sat in an environment with a ‘buzz’.

“We expect this creativity and collaboration to help shape the vibrant and thriving 21st century economy across our region. Traditional office environments generally do not provide this, so we hope businesses will be able to make use of the space to think more creatively, make new connections, exchange ideas and access expert advice.”

When asked why now for this great change in working style Norman replied: “We’re constantly innovating and developing our working environment and with a lease break arising on our current Southampton office, we took the opportunity to put in place something very different.”

“Grant Thornton is constantly innovating and developing its working environment and being recognised for this is a testament to our success in creating environments where great people can do great work.  These accolades include reaching number 12 in the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Best Places to Work 2017, FDs’ Excellence Awards, Accountancy Firm of the Year 2016 and Global Firm of the Year 2015 at The British Accountancy Awards.

“We’re also a purposeful organisation and have chosen to set our reputation alongside a bold purpose – by unlocking the potential for growth in our people, clients and our communities we believe we can help shape a vibrant economy where businesses and people can thrive.  By providing the best working environment possible our team can provide solutions to the most complex and challenging aspects of successful growth and transformation.”

Peter Birkett, University of Southampton Science Park CEO said: “We’re delighted Grant Thornton has chosen the University of Southampton Science Park for its latest co-working initiative.  It underlines the premium standard for our facilities which are designed to meet the needs of companies of all sizes from early stage SMEs to mature global businesses.  With award wins and the opening of our showcase office at 5 Benham Campus, it has been a landmark 12 months for the Science Park and the arrival of Grant Thornton reinforces this.  With our shared vision for economic growth in the region and our culture of collaboration, the benefit will be felt not just by the Science Park community but also across the wider regional economy.”