And with almost 3000 square feet dedicated to a wellbeing zone, the firm underlines its commitment to supporting mental health.
The £14m fit-out project in Merchant Square has become a beacon for PwC as it anticipates the changing needs of its people when they work in its offices in the future. Meditation pods, GP services and exercise classes will be available in the Giant’s Causeway-inspired zone.
Kevin MacAllister, PwC NI’s Regional Market Leader said: “As we start to come out of one of the most challenging times we’ve ever experienced, people will need more than a desk to return to. As we see with PwC’s new Deal for our people, we’re rethinking what offices mean to people, understanding what they need for the future and we believe prioritising mental health is business-critical.
“The decision to put the wellbeing zone front and centre in Merchant Square was a deliberate one. We’re very aware that the most effective workforce is a healthy one. When we started talking about dedicating this huge space over 18 months ago, we thought it would be a ‘good to have. Now, it will be one of the most important aspects of our new home.”
PwC’s new Deal enables its people to choose the most effective working pattern for their day as well as the best place to carry out their role. These changes are in direct response to feedback from its people, who’ve said they value a mix of working from home and the office. Merchant Square will be open 24/7, providing greater flexibility to both employees and clients.
As well as a focus on wellbeing and being a destination workplace, PwC’s new HQ will also feature cutting-edge technology to aid collaboration and drive innovation.
Kieragh Nelson, PwC’s project lead for Merchant Square continued: “There will be nothing that compares to Merchant Square in terms of the way it’ll be used by our clients and partners in the community. We’ll be making the most of our prime position in the heart of the city centre by opening our offices to collaborate far more than we’ve been able to before. Technology has been at the heart of our investment, from the way you enter the building to the top on the 9th floor where you’ll find our Frontier tech space and data lab. It will be one of the most digitally advanced spaces in Northern Ireland.
“Merchant Square has also brought into sharp focus the importance of having a digitally- enabled workforce, because technology is only as good as the people who use it everyday and see the opportunities. Over the last year we’ve continued to upskill our people in emerging technologies as our talent is the key to our clients’ success.”
The firm is taking over all nine floors of the 200,000 sq. ft building, which has been developed by bringing together two previous buildings – Oyster House and Royston House. For some staff members, the move is a home-coming as Royston House was where Price Waterhouse staff and then, for a short time, PwC staff worked before the firm moved to its current home at Waterfront Plaza.
The interior design takes inspiration from the region with elements drawn from the Botanic Gardens, the River Lagan, and the Harland and Wolff cranes. One of the most striking design pieces is a collection of colour-changing LED ropes, which will be visible to everyone along Wellington Place as they fall down the windows from the ninth to the 1st floor. This recalls the city’s period as ‘Linenopolis’ and the impact that the linen industry had on the city.
The move is the biggest-ever private sector letting deal to be signed in Belfast and was necessitated by the firm’s continued growth in recent years. The headcount has tripled from approximately 800 in 2016 to over 2300 in 2020, and Merchant Square will be able to accommodate up to 3000. With social distancing expected to be a part of daily life for some months to come, the move means it will be able to safely support its people in work and anticipates demand to be high as soon as the doors open.
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