The UK’s best offices: top ten breakout spaces revealed

SLG Beauty's offices in Cheltenham
Home Leisure Direct SLG Beauty

Swinging hammocks and scooters were just some of the bizarre and brilliant features of the final ten offices to make the cut in the inaugural Office Breakout of the Year competition – which reveals the most inspirational office-based breakout space that the UK has to offer.

Having received an influx of outstanding entries from a range of businesses and sectors, ten finalists were selected, with the outright winner being SLG Brands, the Cheltenham based creator of some of the UK’s most fashionable high street beauty brands.

Its newly opened £3 million offices based in the town’s Brewery Quarter were designed to maximise creative inspiration amongst its staff.

The offices are divided into two clear zones, a working area and a social space, the office integrates multiple breakout areas covering a mix of themes. One has a no shoes policy (with hopefully no gnarly feet on show!), bean bags, mood lighting and a Bose sound system for a different kind of meeting. There’s a mini events area, an American diner, even a graffiti fresco-ceilinged boardroom to enhance the element of creative differentiation.

Andy Beresford, MD of HomeLeisureDirect.com, the company behind Office Breakout of the Year, said: “The SLG offices are an absolutely outstanding example of office breakout culture and they’re very worthy winners. Having been fortunate enough to visit the offices for a winner’s presentation I was astounded by how good they are. The dedication to creating such a fantastic working environment is genuinely superb. We couldn’t have hoped for a better winner or one more true to the spirit of what the competition was setting out to find.”

Miles Dunkley, owner of SLG, said: “It was probably the most uncompromising project I’ve ever been involved with. We stuck doggedly to the detail and to the big ideas.

“We referred to it as ‘Project Paradise’ and, in the end, it became a design template for us, where we wanted to create a paradise experience with exotic planting, exquisite furniture and unexpected visual moments in a bid to try and make people feel that, perhaps, they’re not actually at work. We’re looking to blur the lines between work and leisure.”

On the office’s setup, Miles said: “We call the social area the bar, the diner and the pavilion, but essentially the office is a simple concept. We wanted a social zone of the office and a work zone, with people encouraged to socialise with one another. At lunchtime in particular, we prefer people not to eat at their desks, but prefer to encourage everyone into that social space – something we see as hugely important in fostering successful working relationships.”

The nine other finalists included

accessplanit – a software business from Lancaster.

Ashville – an asset management business from Bristol.

Digital 22 – a marketing and design agency from Clitheroe.

People Source Consulting – a recruitment business from Bristol.

Roc Search – a tech and engineering recruitment specialist from Reading.

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Sales-i – a provider of sales analytics software from Solihull.

Home Leisure Direct Sales-i

SEC Group – an office fit out company from Stevenage.

Zest Digital – a digital marketing agency from Oxford.

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16i – a digital design agency also from Cheltenham.

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Andy Beresford, MD of HomeLeisureDirect.com, the company orchestrating the competition, said: “We’ve seen some fantastic efforts coming in and it’s been a really tough call on our part to draw up the final shortlist, but we’re delighted to be able to reveal the top ten. Now we leave it to the wider public to decide which office breakout area looks the most appealing to them.

“According to recent reports, the UK is currently seeing record levels of employment, and while that might be a great statistic, the knock-on effect is that it’s becoming harder and harder to recruit top talent. Employers are having to go above and beyond to create an attractive working environment – our finalists are clear examples of businesses going that extra mile!”

Research from HomeLeisureDirect.comrecently revealed that two in three workers (65%) would consider switching employers for a better working environment.

Andy added: “Being named as a finalist gives those shortlisted businesses the opportunity to showcase how they go about delivering a better working environment for their employees, with some top effort evidently involved judging by what we’ve seen.”