Nestling in the shadows of the Shropshire foothills lies the stronghold of a most remarkable creative organisation – working and living in a really smart space. During my summer ramblings I had the opportunity to visit the home of iDEA and to sample their smart way of working. Having worked with them in the past I wanted to see how they ply their trade as Consultants that interpret and translate between design teams and occupiers. I came away with further confirmation that not all smart spaces and places are found in large cities and towns.
There are a number of factors which go to make this group of creatives; their workplace and their work style worthy of mention. In terms of their space it is housed in an old mill on a tributary of the mighty River Severn. Built in the early 17th century its original purpose marked the start of the industrialised age. Its current users have brought about a rebirth of the mill as the home of some impressive creative thinking around the emerging new ways of working. Walking around the quirky space which has retained most of its original features and seeing this 21st century design team work with tools such as;- Augmented Reality, Gaming technology and 3-D printers it struck me as a workspace which is perfectly balanced between old and new.
The motto of the iDEA group is winning by sharing and during my visit I witnessed how the 20+ members of the team put this into action. Based well away from the amenities of the town centre of Shrewsbury, they have to be self-sufficient. Their solution for eating (the small Canteen) struck me as something we can all aspire to. At lunchtime everyone eats together and chats! There is no anonymous canteen culture nor hustle and bustle of a coffee shop. It is akin to a family meal with everybody sorting out what they want to eat and cleaning up afterwards! It was also striking to note the chatting and discourse during the meal – it was engaging and genuine.
During our lunchtime discussion I not only learned about how they serve their clients in London and elsewhere in the UK but also that they have a company band! The iDEA band recently played a festival in Leominster raising money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital whilst some of the more energetic ones also participate as a cycling team. Their most recent challenge was raising money for MacMillan Cancer by taking part in the Surrey 100 cycle ride. All of this may prove the old adage that a team which plays together stays together?
On my journey back to London I reflected on this most interesting of companies whose name prompts one to bemoan the fact that we all have a tendency to avoid thinking – maybe we should redress this imbalance? It also struck me that this diverse band of highly creative people are deeply engaged with what they do, they have belief in what the company does and are happy to play with colleagues outside of work. Everyone I met exuded charm and excitement for what they are doing. I wonder how one could get more of this type of behaviour from larger organisations?