Even the world’s pharmaceutical giants know how small can sometimes be beautiful

When it comes to the world’s most fast moving industries, information technology firms tend to grab most of the headlines. Yet some of the world’s most advanced and innovative companies don’t work in the information technology sector. One of the world’s leading life sciences firms is also one of its most successful. Sigma-Aldrich as part of its collaboration with Merck employs 19,000 people worldwide as part of its operations in 66 countries, providing chemical and biochemical products to organisations working in the research, health manufacturing and academic sectors.

The firm’s success is built on its ability to stay at the forefront of innovation in its field, pioneer new ideas and services as well as respond to and anticipate changing market conditions on both a global scale and at a local level. According to UK Operations Manager Mark Jackson, Sigma-Aldrich needs to embody these values in all that it does. ‘It’s an extremely fast moving sector and so we must be able to adapt quickly,’ he says. ‘That was certainly the case when we needed to immediately expand the UK procurement team by twenty people to accommodate our business development even though we were short of appropriate space at our British HQ.’

The solution was the acquisition of a small, business unit next to the company’s UK headquarters complex in Gillingham, Dorset (pictured). ‘This wasn’t a purpose built office building so we were looking at more than a simple fit-out,’ says Mark Jackson. ‘Given the six week timescale for the work, we needed a company to work with who knew how to listen to what we needed, had the range of services to transform the shell of the building, then fit it out to the standards we need to create an exceptional working environment.’

Fresh Workspace were called on to provide a turnkey package of products and services to help Sigma-Aldrich meet these challenging requirements in as short a timescale as possible. The new building was completely stripped out and remodelled with: a new window to provide more daylight for the interior; power, data and telecoms servicing; new lighting; refurbished toilet and washroom facilities; and a new heating system.

The design of the offices not only incorporated workstations for the largely office based members of the procurement team but also a break-out space and two private managers offices.

‘It may be a smaller office in terms of the global scale of the business,’ explains Mark Jackson, ‘but the procurement team is vital for our success so needs a working environment that meets all of its needs and focuses on the productivity and wellbeing of individuals. That is why it was so important that we incorporated features such as the improved use of daylight and better lighting as well as providing break-out space to allow people to take time away from their workstations or meet in an informal setting. We needed to find a solution to our expansion quickly, but that didn’t mean we had to compromise.’

The tight timescales and fixed budget meant the service package was a key element of the work. ‘We were impressed by how well Fresh Workspace listened and understood our needs,’ says Mark Jackson. ‘But once we appointed them to work on the project, we were delighted with the way the whole project was handled. All the work was carried out to a very high professional standard and with safety a high priority. They also took on full responsibility once the job was underway, ensuring we were always aware how work was progressing with daily photographic updates.’

The results show how physical infrastructure can support the rapidly changing needs of firms operating in the most innovative industries and do so without compromise. For Sigma-Aldrich, the need to respond to the changing needs of their market is a critical part of their business. Fresh Workspace were able to understand this and provide a solution every bit as exceptional, responsive, nimble and cutting edge as their own services.