• Transform magazine
  • January 23, 2020


Sedley Place modernises Sky brand experience

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It’s not unusual for large corporations to occupy impressive buildings, or even complexes, in the city in which they are based. Architecturally, the City of London’s Lloyds of London building is famous for its ‘inside out’ lifts and staircases; in Chicago, the General Motors Renaissance Center boasts seven separate towers and is so large it’s often described as a ‘city within a city.’ Now the Osterley, West London-based main office and studios of UK telecommunications provider Sky, has unveiled its own unique addition to the world of innovative workplace environments.

As a media business, Sky relies on staff primed for action 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Fostering an inclusive, proactive and aspirational experience, which permeates away from the desk and into the staff social atmosphere, is therefore hugely important to the company and its employer brand. To help achieve this, Sky has unveiled a new concept in corporate eating experience, named ‘Sky Street.' A new boulevard that traverses the buildings and walkways of Sky’s campus, Sky Street aims to unite the 7,500 employees together under a common interest – food and drink.  

Intended as a dynamic alternative to corporate canteens, branding for Sky Street’s seven bespoke eateries has been developed by London-based creative consultancy, Sedley Place, which also designed the brand experience for Sky eateries the Loft and the Kitchen in 2015. Working closely with food provider Gather & Gather, Sedley Place uses modern, relaxing colour palettes and brand-oriented design tropes for Sky Street, developing Sky’s vision of further uniting staff and encouraging the uptake of regular, healthy eating habits.

In a conversation with Transform magazine, Mick Nash, managing director at Sedley Place, says, “Rather than push people to an environment, if you pull them by making it a desirable place to be, not only are you taking people away from their desks which is a healthy thing to do, you get the food away from their computers and their paper work and you get them to eat a balanced meal at lunchtime.”

Sedley Place was also careful to ensure its updates to Sky Street were part of the overall employee journey, a strategic follow-up from its initial improvements to the Loft and the Kitchen. This was broadly considered the first step in Sky truly modernising the workplace environment for its many staff. “We’ve had an ongoing involvement at sky’s campus at Osterley, and as our role has evolved with different projects, so has Sky’s view of how important food is to them as an employer and what that means in the workplace,” says Nash. “So the projects that we did for the Loft and the Kitchen were stepping stones towards the ultimate iteration and incarnation of that thinking. The construction and building of that completes a real sense of campus at their site.”

This, says Nash, helps dispel the myth that corporate environments can be cold and unfriendly, designed to ensure employees spend more time at their desks and less time socialising. Nash says, “It’s arranged more like a university, there’s a real sense of community space in the middle and employees are now free to move between different buildings. Also, the added dimension is that there’s something different to eat and drink in each of those buildings.” As well as contributing to a collective sense of belonging, the new design and layout for Sky Street includes a variety of offerings more likely found along a high street. From a 700-seater restaurant with waiter service, to a cinema and accompanying kiosk with branding to reflect its big screen environment, to healthy eating-oriented salad bar 'the Garden,' Sedley Place developed the strategy and design for environments for all staff wishes.

Furthermore, Sky believes that improving workplace eating and drinking environments will improve how its employees approach food. The benefits of fostering these habits is huge, for both the staff and for Sky – healthy employees leads to a happier, and hopefully more productive, workplace. “There’s an underlying story which is less to do with design and more to do with the operation,” says Nash. “Something [Sky is] driving forward is to get people to think carefully about food, understand what that means to them in terms of employee health, getting a good night’s sleep and being aware of nutrients that are in food, eating less sugar. All of that is an agenda, coupled with the environment which gives a complete story on their part.”

For Nash, agility is at the crux of what Sedley Place and Sky has achieved in its updated employee offering. “What [Sky] has done successfully is reflecting their food offering as an integrated part of being an employee at Sky – including how the work day works,” finishes Nash. “Agility is a big word in those environments, and the food offerings are agile in the same way that the workplace is an agile workplace. They’ve done a good job at building awareness without preaching.”

Agility, or ‘agile working,’ often describes what employers desire for their companies, rather than any meaningful workplace experience. For Sky, however, developing a workplace culture based on inclusivity, flexibility and wellbeing firmly translates into its brand, and therefore employee, experience. With Sedley Place attuned to the Sky ethos, the consultancy has delivered a space respected by employers and employees alike. Finally, says Nash, “All of that balance and nuance has worked out just right.”