WWF new headquarters at the Living Planet Centre in Woking exemplify sustainable work environment.
The Living Planet Centre in Woking, which houses the World Wildlife Fund, really exemplifies what the charity is all about: sustainability and an eco-friendly environment.
The new headquarters for the WWF are vastly different to their old redbrick office: an outdated building that was a 1960s building donated to them with very foundational services. "The previous building had fixed desks with a small server running HP. Everything was older and slower and had reached its capacity," says Julian Gall, IT technology project manager for WWF.
The new building houses a private on-premise cloud, wireless integration to accommodate BYOD and an open space work environment with hot desking for a diverse office working experience.
The Living Planet Centre echoes the charity’s ethos from the moment you walk through the door. The wood and glass-fronted building opens out into a spacious reception which houses four WWF experience pods, interactive areas for visiting children to make them environmentally aware and to get them interested in conservation. Each of the four structures represents the different areas that WWF works to protect: wildlife, woodland, marine and freshwater.
The interactive segment at the front of the building is a great way to integrate the public into the building and educate them on the charities work. "One of the conditions for giving us the gift to build the building was to have a publicly available building. That fitted very well with what the organisation wanted to do. We now have the exhibition at the front where we will bring local schools in to learn about the work that we do and we have a pond dipping area at the back, so it is very much geared towards public education," says Gall.
Two of the largest sponsors of the building are Cisco and Dimension Data who have provided the major technological upgrades for the charity. The technology design will support WWF’s sustainability goals, which include smarter working and more efficient energy management.
Moving through to the main office, the working space is spacious and airy with large glass segments in the ceiling and walls looking through to the surrounding greenery. The presence of environmentally-friendly wood keeps the office warm and stylish.
These beautiful aesthetics are kept unspoilt by Dimension Data and Cisco’s efficient use of technology that keeps all wires and unnecessary devices out of sight. A wireless integrated under-floor network allows BYOD hot desking throughout the building.
"You’re not walking around here with technology coming at you: it’s hidden away, it’s subtle, it’s doing the job it’s designed to do, but out of the way," says Neil Harris, Head of Sustainability for Cisco. "The average office you walk around, you see IT devices round every corner. So it’s really refreshing to experience a building like this and only see what you need to see."
Gall adds: "As a building it’s great, it’s a beautiful office to work in. From an IT point of view, everybody is now on a laptop: when I visited a year and a half ago, I was amazed to see that nobody had a laptop, they were all on desktops. Being a charity, unless you get a gift, you can’t afford to buy people new kit all the time, so they just make do.
"You can have an office that people really enjoy and can bite the bullet and get rid of wires," he said.
The wireless system means that employees can work anywhere throughout the building on their handheld devices or laptops, even outside, weather permitting. Every employee has their own laptop, but no assigned desk. Workers are encourage to sit at different stations in the hot desking set up, from the desks with monitors to plug laptops into, to soft seating areas for more casual, comfortable working.
Cisco has provided the end-to-end IT infrastructure in the WWF building, incorporating some of the technology used to power the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games. Proving that more than just paper can be recycled in an office, the on-site data centre is made up of components that were used at Stratford during the 2012 Olympics, which have no use now.
"Olympic Legacy [hardware] went through a Cisco refurbishment programme so it comes out the other side basically as new," says Harris. This built upon Cisco’s outlook for the Living Planet Centre to deliver forward-looking IT services to accommodate sustainability.
"We want the IT departments in companies around the world to see what is possible with this type of approach. There’s that all important approach to collaborating with the business, working with the business sustainability goals and developing IT strategies that support those outcomes. There are so many brands that are making bold moves into the world of sustainability and we feel that technology has a massive role to play," says Harris.
"This partnership works so well: Dimension Data and WWF with their objectives and outcomes and us providing the latest and greatest technology. UCS uses far less hardware, server devices, less cables and power supplies, all those sorts of things to give you great service. It’s like Moore’s Law in action: providing the same or better performance with fewer materials."
The network will be the platform to connect to the data centre built on the Cisco Unified Computing System, and will help increase the efficiency and utilisation of network and server resources. Combined with the ground source cooling and heating function in the Centre, this will be powered by 100% renewable energy.
"It’s about the message it sends as much as the technology and how it is being deployed today. Working with Dimension Data, we want to keep it moving with these new innovations like Internet of Things, continued Data Centre optimisation, mobility tools, telepresence, all these things will continue to evolve," adds Harris.
Saving the world from an office
In turn, Dimension Data is offering its expertise and services to implement the Centre’s infrastructure. Rob Johnson, managing architect team manager, Dimension Data, says: "Dimension Data has a vision around acceleration ambition, whether that be people, our clients, or society in general. So a good example with the WWF is accelerating ambition of the CEO and trustees to influence, educate and inspire subscriptions rather than advocates. This journey with the Living Planet Centre is all about taking those subscriptions and getting them to be advocates.
"WWF had a real impact on us because we bought into what it is that their trying to do: save the planet, and that’s pretty cool. So we provided our advisory services," he adds.
Dimension Data did its bit to save the planet by providing its advisory services and best practices as a gift in kind to the WWF, the cost of which is equivalent as number of bony fish species there are in our oceans. That’s more than 70,000.
Dimension Data also ensured that everything they installed is adaptable going forward."We put in a programme manager and identified all inter-dependencies between [WWF] projects and put in projects closely aligned to our go-to market of end-user computing, next generation data centre, communications and our heritage of saucer networking. So we framed the project around those key areas with WWF and the Cisco team and came up with the solutions that we’ve delivered," says Johnson
"Some of these projects would have to have been done regardless of whether WWF moved [from their previous office building] because the legacy environment was so legacy, but this opportunity has really given them a platform to have this corporate partnership with Cisco and build in some new innovate technologies."