Architype – Our EO Story

Architype – Our EO Story

Our core values and our commitment to our values Include having people’s wellbeing at our heart. The Impact of covid was initially very tough on the business, but our lessons learned from previous hard times made us know that If we focus on the people the business will benefit.

 

Architype is an award-winning architectural practice collaborating across studios in Edinburgh, Hereford and London. We have a rich history of pioneering low carbon design and a clear focus on how buildings work for people and the planet. We have steadily grown over the 37 years we have been in operation, and now sit at over 70 employee owners.

 

The company initially started out as a Cooperative, with Walter Segal’s pioneering self-build architecture as a key inspiration. One of the original 50% shareholding directors, Bob Hayes, stepped down in 2015, kick-starting a new succession process that saw the inception of Architype’s employee ownership journey. Currently at 30% employee owned, we hope to be majority 51% employee owned in 2024, with an eventual aspiration to be 100% employee owned. It’s believed that employee ownership is the most suitable long-term solution for Architype, and that there is great passion within the team for ensuring our core values remain at the heart of what we do. The culture and ethos of employee ownership has always been very well embedded in the way Architype operates. Staff have always been encouraged to collaborate on shaping what the business is, and there has always been an open an honest culture around reporting on business performance, so employee ownership was the most fitting direction to take!

 

The Covid-19 pandemic hit the industry hard, and as with a lot of other businesses, we found that work slowed down considerably. Due to having experienced the effect of 2 major contractor clients going into administration the year before, we had some robust systems in place in order to take stock and future-proof the business, and our workforce for such a challenge. We were able to transition to a fully remote working business the week before the national lockdown was called in March 2020, which provided great comfort to all our staff to know as a company, the wellbeing of staff is always at the forefront.

 

Architype has also undertaken a number of new initiatives this past year, notably the inception of a Diversity and Inclusion working group, becoming an Endometriosis Friendly Employer, and joining an apprenticeship scheme. Other examples that have helped benefit our staff include consolidating our weekly individual office team meetings to one company-wide one, enabling cross-office working and staff getting to know those from another office better, virtual quarterly EO trust meetings, a buddy system, and a real focus on supporting staff mental health, with dedicated trained mental health first aiders amongst our workforce.

 

The impact of Architype coming together more has meant not only that we have generated ideas for creativity and socialising (think virtual birthday cards, 10 minute daily sketches, collective tea breaks, ‘DJ stand-off’ Fridays, a Strava running group and ‘You’re on mute’ fundraising), but that we have also created a safe space for everyone to raise discussion around current affairs, personal experiences, climate issues and have seen some engaging discussions that have turned words in to actions. Within our instant messaging system, Slack, a number of training opportunities, webinars and articles are shared on a daily basis around a broad spectrum of topics, which is further engaging everyone from all our geographical areas.

 

This year we have been shortlisted for the AJ100 Employer of the Year award, and as part of this submission we gained some insights in what it is like to work at Architype:

 

“Architype’s focus on environmental sustainability is matched by its social ethos, making sure all staff are valued and actively engaged in our core values and goals.

I am excited to be playing a key role in our journey to full employee ownership.”

 

“I am hugely privileged to love the work that I do, be part of a very inspiring and compassionate team, and to be able to learn new things every single day. The reality of balancing working, studying my Part II and caring for my grandfather over the last 12 months has been a challenging yet rewarding learning curve, but it’s safe to say it would have not been possible without the immense support, flexibility and compassion from my fellow colleagues and friends of Architype.”

 

“I joined the company during COVID-19. I go to work, enthused and excited to learn.

I feel encouraged to push myself to be my best, working on projects that are challenging and interesting. There is such a positive and helpful working culture that spreads through every member of the architype family, from the amazing housekeeper, Joanne to the approachable MD, Jono. They provide a supportive and warm environment that has been a welcome change”

 

“I was pleasantly surprised on my first day at Architype (during lockdown) to discover that as part of the weekly whole office VC meeting there was a well-being section: this is usually a short meditation and despite being held over VC it works very well and is a really positive start to the week. In addition to this we have a well-being Slack channel where people will post suggestions and sources of information to support their colleague’s well-being. Architype also has a buddy system and mental health first aiders – these combined resources really do make a positive difference to the day to day pressures of working remotely.”

 

“I’ve never worked anywhere like Architype.

The company genuinely wants its employees to be happy and feel valued, and that ethos seeps into every corner of the business.

Accomplishments are noted and cheered, people are thanked and given credit for the tiniest contributions and most importantly, everyone is included, consulted and informed.”

 

“I haven’t been with the company long but coming from big organisations to an employee-owned business…WOW! I love that at Architype everyone is friendly, helpful and nothing is too much for anyone. The family aspect Architype have is amazing. I feel great about who I work for. I have two young children and may need an afternoon off to juggle childcare – Architype’s approach to this is fantastic. Always happy to accommodate.

 

“This is my first time working for a company striving for full employee ownership. In previous jobs, I have had more significant job roles than here, but have often felt ignored and undervalued by management. At Architype the culture is about working together and supporting each other, and for the first time, I have felt confident enough to approach colleagues and management with ideas, and, most importantly, felt listened to. I feel so lucky to be part of this company – it really feels like a big family where everybody else genuinely cares.”

 

In summary, we feel that our core values of being a ‘Creative, Ecological, Progressive, Community’ practice have truly come in to their own this past year!