Co-design, Collaboration and Culture

– This Much I Know with Sharon Marsh, Executive Director of Resource, Livv Housing Group

The HR World speaks to industry leaders about their careers and life – what advice would they pass on and what wisdom brought them to where they are now.

Sharon Marsh, Executive Director of Resources at Livv Housing Group and FCIPD discusses the impact a collaboratively designed transformation of their HQ has made to culture, building colleague relationships and the impact the building has had on the balance of hybrid work patterns post pandemic.


27 September 2023


Story by
Sharon Marsh, Executive Director of Resources, Livv Housing Group

Sharon Marsh, Executive Director of Resources at Livv Housing Group and FCIPD discusses the impact a collaboratively designed transformation of their HQ has made to culture, building colleague relationships and the impact the building has had on the balance of hybrid work patterns post pandemic.

If you build it, they will come. And if you build it together, co-design it around the things that matter to your colleagues – the rewards in terms of employee culture created can be exponential.

Our ‘it’? The root-and-branch transformation of our HQ in Merseyside, a major project that marked our post pandemic recovery to protect the wellbeing of our c.400 employees by creating a central hub and place to connect with peers.

Working together with employees from every part of our workforce through a blend of forums, dedicated workshops and surveys, we co-designed a workplace that’s welcoming, has warmth, accommodates diversity and protects wellbeing.

A workplace that feels like home

We believe creating a workplace that ‘feels like home’ – that feels like a ‘home away from home’ has been crucial to our culture, colleague relationships and our employees’ relationship with their employer in turn.

At a time when many UK businesses are still struggling with workforce appetite to return to the office after Covid 19, a legacy reality of a global pandemic and home working, we’re experiencing the opposite.

Our colleagues want to be in our beautiful, bright and vibrant office footprint. And while our policy, post pandemic is for employees to come into the office one day a week, in reality we are seeing much greater weekly foot fall.

Our employees are enjoying our spaces and places that officially opened to our workforce in October 2022. In doing so, we’ve brought back that natural conversation, the chats that you’d call the ‘watercooler’ moments pre pandemic, the very human part of HR, you could say.

Going back to the future

So back to the future and the ‘if you build it they will come’. What did we create? We have a variety of desk real estate to accommodate work preference and neuro diversity. We have a blend of bookable hot desks, acoustic meeting pods with screens to ‘teams’ people in for hybrid-ability, sound proof booths for individual teams calls, cosy up chairs for reading or discussions, and of course the traditional meeting room is an evergreen constant.

We have a library zone and quiet working spaces and we have areas with lower lighting levels. We also have a living wall in our main reception area, symbolically placed by our brand mission – to create positive impact and flourishing communities.


Listening to the bespoke

We have our stylish bistro area, with a free bean-to-cup barista-style coffee station and pool table, an area which is more often than not packed out at lunch time.

Sharon Marsh

We met bespoke requests as part of the refurbishment collaboration. Our operatives felt very strongly that they wanted an entrance point to the building where they didn’t need to come through the main reception area, this really mattered as it made them feel more comfortable and at ease coming into the building.

We made an entrance point that comes into the bistro area and where the pool table is instead. The pool table sports our corporate blue on the felt and has proved a favourite spot for our community based operatives to come together to socialise. We’ve seen a highly competitive pool tournament as a result, which has been great for their camaraderie.

We also have our wellbeing zone for general quiet time, meditation and yoga sessions as well as our balcony seating overlooking the lake that lends our HQ its name – Lakeview. Our colour schemes throughout Lakeview are soft and lifestyle based, but blend with our corporate palette to stay on brand.

Sustainability is a given for us too, solar panels, low energy consumption air conditioning, LED lighting, an air source heat pump for hot water supplies and electric vehicle charging.

The good, the bad and the indifferent

I strongly believe that you can ‘feel’ an office – the good, the bad and the indifferent! We’re focused on the good clearly…and that positive buzz, hive of activity and connected vibe that just can’t be manufactured. It’s totally organic, it’s either in your DNA as a business or not and it’s in our genes here.

The building we’ve co-designed has laid the foundation for positive culture, trust and honesty to flow. We had some really frank conversations to get things right for the future and that created the confidence for our employees to communicate with us and tell us their truths.

Legacy of trust

That’s the ongoing legacy value of our Lakeview project, relationships and trust. We listen to hear and we very much believe in a ‘you said/we did’ approach to actions that we take and transparency on reporting back to colleagues to close the circle of communication.

A personal pride point now, we have a queue of colleagues who want to be part of our employee forum, to contribute, to collaborate, to be part of that voice. That’s really being part of and ‘livving’ our employer brand.

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