Case Study
Workplace Transformation: Nimble Working at AIMIA

AIMIA is a Canada-headquartered international customer loyalty company. Its core businesses are in the airline industry (including Aeroplan and Air Miles Middle East), and the retail sector (including Nectar UK, Nectar Italia and China Rewards).

London is home to AIMIA’s EMEA headquarters with around 700 employees, 600 of whom are based on The Strand.

Client AIMIA
The Challenge

AIMIA is a Canada-headquartered international customer loyalty company whose core businesses are in the airline industry and retail sector. London is home to around 700 employees, 600 of whom are based on The Strand.

AIMIA approached UnWork looking to improve the efficiency of its workplace and increase collaboration. The company’s growth in personnel had resulted in their office becoming overcrowded, while the style of the workplace was uniform and uninspiring. A lack of meeting and collaboration spaces in the existing workspace was stifling the quality and breadth of the company’s services.

UnWork were asked to develop a new working strategy for AIMIA, and then manage the implementation of the new way of working in their existing premises.

Our Response

Stage 1: Workplace Strategy

UnWork began by creating a business plan and high-level model for AIMIA’s London portfolio, taking into account:

  • Headcount projections for the next five years
  • The capacity of the existing real estate stock on the current occupancy
  • Efficiencies that could be realised by introducing agile working and reducing notional ‘sq ft per head’
  • Options for splitting the London portfolio and placing non-client facing functions in lower cost real estate outside London’s West End.

UnWork then worked with AIMIA to develop a comprehensive workplace strategy, which proposed the full implementation of agile working at the client’s offices. The strategy set out workplace design and technology guidelines, as well as a schedule for piloting the new way of working in the existing office space.

Stage 2: Piloting New Ways of Working

The decision was made to pilot agile working with a view to full roll out if all of the employees engaged in the pilot deemed it a success. AIMIA opted for a ‘furniture-only’ solution, avoiding any change to the material of the office.

In accordance with UnWork’s unique, data-driven approach to workplace strategy and design, we undertook a thorough analysis of AIMIA’s business and existing working style. As part of this analysis, we carried out:

  • A Workplace Utilisation Survey examining building population, occupancy and utilisation of different workspaces and settings
  • A comprehensive Workstyle Survey answered by the client’s employees, detailing their individual preferences on spaces, settings and technology
  • Workshops with senior management and team leaders on business models and how the new working strategy could increase speed to market and inter-department collaboration.

The data gathered from the surveys and workshops was transformed using our proprietary methodologies into rich, actionable insights into AIMIA’s present working practices and the company’s desired future way of working. These insights informed the strategy for the pilot, which involved 60 AIMIA employees and took place over three months. The strategy for the pilot included:

  • Developing a kit of parts and brief for the furniture solution
  • Producing a workplace concept along with schedules for different types of activity settings
  • Aiding the client in selecting furniture options that matched the brief
  • Creating time lines for implementation
  • Writing communications plans.

As part of our engagement, UnWork developed and delivered change management programmes for pilot users, managed the implementation of the pilot, monitored the utilisation of the pilot zone and collected feedback from users. Feedback and data were gathered throughout the pilot to monitor the impact of the new working strategy.

AIMIA’s EMEA headquarters in London

Stage 3: Workplace Transformation

Following the success of the pilot, UnWork created the schedule for the complete roll out of the new way of working to AIMIA’s workplace over a nine month period. Implementation was achieved in seven stages of approximately 80 people, with the fitout taking place over weekends to prevent any disruption of the business; each group left their existing workplace on Friday afternoon, and returned to the new agile environment on Monday morning.
As part of managing the implementation of agile, UnWork ran the RFP process for the furniture suppliers and liaised with vendors to ensure that new furnishings were delivered on time and on budget. UnWork consultants were also on hand to address any queries or questions that staff had relating to the new working strategy.

AIMIA’s EMEA headquarters in London

Our transformation of AIMIA’s workplace lowered the company’s future real estate costs, increased collaboration and resulted in faster product development. The tired open plan layout and banks of desks arranged in rows have been replaced with a range of work settings that closely match the tasks employees undertake throughout the day; desks and tables for core work, enclosed pods for individual work, and meeting booths for collaboration. Working with AIMIA, we delivered:

  • A 24% increase in total building capacity
  • Space for 3 years of personnel growth without moving offices
  • £1.5m real estate savings per annum.

Feedback from the project team, leadership and employees using the new work space has been universally positive, and all stages of the project were delivered on time and budget.