Balancing Personality and Practicality at Offices of Medical Researcher

Project Details
Project Name: Worldwide Clinical Trials
Architect/Designer: Office Innovations
Photographer: Jenny Ford

Having built its success on expertise and flexibility, global midsize contract research organization (CRO) Worldwide Clinical Trials knew that if it wanted to get its colleagues connecting in person again, its workplace needed to change.

For the company’s new Nottingham base, design consultancy Office Innovations was tasked with creating a wellbeing-focused environment for employees, which also reflected the precision and professionalism demanded by the organisation’s crucial role in the clinical trials space. For a flooring solution that helped strike this delicate balance, Office Innovations drew on its longstanding relationship with global flooring manufacturer Interface.

A Home Away from Home

Worldwide Clinical Trials saw that the transition to hybrid working had moved the goalposts in terms of what people are looking for in their working environment. It wanted to learn and benefit from the natural diversification of the workspace that occurred when people started working from home. Office Innovations achieved this by varying the types of space available and introducing some of the more residential tones and textures that people had become used to working amongst. The company specified a diverse range of furniture with the intention of driving different ways of working. For example, softer sofas and chairs make space for informal collaborative conversations that boost creativity and encourage the social interactions that will keep people coming into the office.

However, the design process wasn’t simply one of breaking the corporate mould and starting again. Instead, the challenge was managing the coexistence of breakout and social spaces designed to look after people’s mental and physical health, and the traditional desk-based areas which remain an important component of the new office.

The designers chose Interface’s Woven Gradience collection to soften the transitions between different zones. Cool grey tones gently give way to brighter colours, creating a harmony between the residential and commercial influences without a harsh binary transition. Jordan Andrew, interior designer at Office Innovations, said: “With Woven Gradience, the injections of colour don’t seem forced at all. Instead, the flooring sets the tone for each zone. In meeting rooms, for example, a different strip of colour runs through the centre of each one which subtly directs attention to the conversation going on and prevents these rooms from feeling identical.”

For the breakout areas themselves, Interface recommended Icebreaker. The etched lines and angular strokes of this carpet tile allow it to flow seamlessly across the floor, and Office Innovations used it to add touches of natural brown to support the other elements of biophilia included to boost employees’ wellbeing throughout the space. Donna Dent, Concept Designer at Interface, described why Icebreaker was the right choice: “People take time to adjust to workplaces when they’re redesigned for new ways of working; even if the change is one that benefits them, they won’t alter their behaviours or how they use the space immediately. Icebreaker is perfect for these zones because the organic design provides a gentle nudge that tells people this is an area where they can take a minute to consider how they feel or connect casually with a colleague.”

A Professional Touch

As well as the needs of its employees, Worldwide Clinical Trials needed to consider its identity as a brand and the industry that it operates in. Clinical trials are often the culmination of years-long development projects, and the company’s clients will only invest in a partner they can trust to operate with the precision needed to carry out trials with fine margins and high stakes.

It was crucial that this identity was present in the design, particularly in areas that would be visible to visiting clients, such as reception areas and meeting rooms. As the new Nottingham office is a central hub for the company in the UK, it needed to set an example. Office Innovations’ considered approach ensures that transfer lines feed carefully into one another, creating a subtle representation of the company’s reputation for accuracy and expertise.

“Having a space that felt really crisp and bright was crucial on this project. The team at Worldwide Clinical Trials knew that the relocation was an opportunity to get things right, and that this would have a tangible impact on whether people came back into the office naturally”, said Jordan. “Flooring was a massive part of this. We made sure that it fit with the acoustic finishes and soft furniture that we brought in, and the flexibility provided by Interface’s carpet tiles means we could respond to changes in the design during the build process without having to start again from square one.”

Getting Practical

Minimising distractions and equipping people to do their best work was a top priority. Smart lockers have been installed to create a clutter-free environment, while intuitive AV technology gives remote participants a voice in hybrid meetings. Underfoot, the designers chose Interface’s Level Set luxury vinyl tile (LVT) in Textured Woodgrains for the kitchens and tea points for its powerful noise reduction properties. Being able to confidently specify a product that they knew would do the job was the result of Office Innovations’ strong working relationship with Interface.

Jack Maclennan, Account Manager at Interface, recalls how important the relationship between manufacturer, designer and client was to specifying the right product for the job: “Having a constant dialogue is invaluable on these projects, because designers such as Office Innovations and their clients are making specification decisions based on a huge range of factors. How it performs and how it looks are really important, but so are questions of sustainability and ease of installation. I know the fact that LVT can be installed without transfer strips helped this project come in on time and on budget.”

Delivering sustainable projects is a long-standing goal for Office Innovations and is a key guiding principle in the company’s specifying decisions. It was also crucial for Worldwide Clinical Trials that sustainability in the new space wasn’t just surface-level, and that the design choices would genuinely minimise impact on the environment. All of Interface’s flooring is carbon neutral, meaning designers could specify the products that worked best without having to worry about any negative effect on the planet.

Donna said: “This new home for Worldwide Clinical Trials is one that embraces every aspect of people’s working life, building on the brand’s identity and reputation for doing things right. It represents a commitment to hybrid working in the future and an understanding of what it means to look after wellbeing in the workplace. We’re so proud to see our flooring solutions have a role in setting the tone for the new office and welcoming employees back to a space designed for them.”

For more information about Interface, visit

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