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Case study: EY 1 July 2014


The EY project started with the initial question of whether EY should MOVE or STAY in their current building. To answer this question, we first had to understand how EY works, their behaviour patterns, and the building usage.


A time and motion study (observation of current facilities), an on-line survey (staff perception of the workplace), and detailed interviews with a cross section of senior execs and other staff (prediction of future) were all key tools to get to understand the current work space and gain insight on future growth and work patterns.

By means of the studies and the surveys, internal patterns were revealed which were previously unknown to anyone. It was clear that EY was used to working in a very efficient open plan workspace. However, with minimal cellular space and no variation in types of workspaces, quiet and focused areas to work were scarce. In summary the ‘one size fits all’ concept promoted collaboration and socializing, and failed to allow for focused work.

The findings of the above-mentioned study were work shopped with the EY executive team, whereby the real estate goals were aligned to the EY business strategy.


The EY workforce consists of some staff based in the office permanently and a large contingent being there temporarily. It was important for mobile staff who were based off site, to be able to have a base office which addresses mobile staff’s requirements and allows then to easily re-connect and socialize with colleagues they had not seen for a while. Staff based at the office permanently also had to be catered for. To support the varying modes of work, an activity-based approach was used to space-plan the new office space and design the 5 different work desk types.

The weighting of different space and work desk type percentages (spaces to focus in, learn in, socialize, and collaborate) were determined by means of the data that had been gathered during the movement study, and the leadership strategy.

The previous workspace had consisted of a singular workstation standard, and a limited variety of choice in work settings, which did not support the flexible, innovative, collaborative work modes required by EY. The goal was to create a dynamic workspace that through choice of work type settings, enable better performance by EY staff.

Other factors such as generational differences, a healthy workplace, environmental responsibility, attaining and retaining staff, as well as the EY Africa strategy all contributed towards the design of the interior spaces. These factors also influenced the overall decision to move into a completely new office space.

The new office design would also encourage a culture change to a more dynamic and professional corporation, which would make EY stand out from their competitors. For the new environment to promote a more dynamic and professional atmosphere, the overall experience of staff members, clients and visitors was considered in detail to not only create an office, but an advertisement and a destination.

An important part of the project was the communications process with EY staff. Print and electronic communication was developed to educate, inspire, assist EY staff in move, and to create an understanding of how to use the office space and facilities.

  1. The Work Café seating areas (Work Hub) with softer finishes to absorb sound are great areas for coffee or lunch meetings and working sessions.
  2. Quiet and smaller meeting rooms function as buffers between walkways and focused work areas.
  3. Work desks are designed around function to provide specific staff with designated work settings that provide higher visual and acoustic properties.
  4. Higher Hot desks without screening enable staff to work more collaboratively. These workstations are located around the Coffee Hubs to contain slightly elevated noise levels.
  5. Variety of meeting spaces to accommodate different collaboration needs
  6. Key break out areas enable staff to relax and socialize in between training and meeting sessions.
  7. The Work Café seating areas (Work Hub) with a variety of café-style seating areas offer choice to the user.
  8. Work Hub
  9. Socializing, Collaborating & Work: a dynamic space, which encourages staff to utilize staircases as vertical circulation to connect with other EY staff.
  10. Variety of meeting spaces to accommodate different collaboration needs.
  11. Work Anywhere.
  12. Variety of meeting spaces to accommodate different collaboration needs.
  13. The Experience of the EY space is the brand: A welcoming concierge greets visitors to EY.
  14. Variety of meeting spaces to accommodate different collaboration needs.
  15. Hot Desks are located adjacent to the primary circulation passages to create a buffer between quick touch down work settings and private, screened workstations.
  16. Coffee Hubs on the work floors allow staff to break away from their desks and also encourage collaboration and socializing. Digital information screens and reading material are available here.