Creating a "destination" premise to lure staff back

Companies are transforming their premises into “destinations” using technology and human-centric design in a bid to attract people back into the workplace, according to a Midlands property refit expert.

Penny Mitchell, from UK fit-out and refurbishment specialists Overbury, says high-tech devices such as movement sensors, human-centric LED lighting and flat screen displays are increasingly in demand from clients as they look to bring staff back into the office following COVID.

Penny is one of a number of industry experts who have been lined up to take part in a Workplace Technology Conference, which will be hosted by Derby smart building firm Scenariio and held at the Chocolate Factory, in Siddals Road, on September 21.

She will be taking part in a round table event looking at how technology can help reverse the working-from-home trend at the conference, which is free and aimed at property owners, architects, landlords and developers.

Overbury is one of the country’s foremost fit-out and refurbishment companies and its previous projects include a refurbishment project for the European Bank for Reconstruction in London’s Canary Wharf and the Victorian Citadel building in Corporation Street, Birmingham.

It also recently won the contract to complete Nottingham City Council’s new Central Library, which is part of the new Broad Marsh car park and bus station complex. 

Scenariio’s conference, which will explore a wide range of technology including sensors, LED lighting and AV equipment, comes in the wake of news that US video conferencing giant Zoom – whose technology made remote working possible during lockdown – was struggling to get its staff to return to the workplace.

They are far from the only ones, says Penny, who is a business development manager at Overbury’s Central office, based at Fort Dunlop in Birmingham.

She said: “Technology matters to our clients because, post-COVID, they’re trying to make their offices a destination in order to get everybody working back in the office.

“Smart building technology can help them achieve that because it can give staff the experience they have at home. If premises don’t have the ability to set up their laptop anywhere, for example, or the air quality isn’t good enough, they won’t return.

“Technology can also help companies monitor their energy usage to ensure they meet their sustainability targets but it can’t just be retro-fitted. 

“Companies need to put workplace technology at the heart of their thinking at the design creation stage, which is why an event such as this conference, which raises awareness of what’s out there, is so useful to our industry.”

Among the other experts who have agreed to take part in the event are Adrian Hayes, sales director of UKI Commscope, Alex Klein, managing director of smartengine wtec, Daniel Floyd, principal engineer at engineering consultants Cundall, and Dee Panchall, IOT specialist at Cisco Meraki.

Rob Pritchard, managing director of Scenariio, said: “Penny is just one of a long list of extremely well-regarded professionals we’ve invited to take part in what’s shaping up to be a fascinating and well-attended event.

“It will showcase the very latest thinking and equipment to enable anybody who is involved in upgrading premises or relocations to understand what is available to help them achieve their plans.”

Established in 2013, Scenariio has installed smart building technology, including intelligent lighting, integrated and supplementary sensor networks and audio-visual systems, at premises across the UK. 

Its clients include Gymshark, Severn Trent Water and Tarmac, as well as, closer to home, Derby College and the popular Bustler Market street food venues in Derby and Nottingham.

The event starts at 10am and will be followed at 5pm by an evening at Bustler Market, including karaoke, arcade games and a silent disco. For more information and to book your place visit