Astute Graphics is moving offices. So far, so normal. But this move represents a change in mindset.
Astute Graphics has been a company resident in the historic market city of Hereford, UK, for 15 years. We've grown into, and outgrown, two previous offices and have just moved after 6 years in our current city centre location.
COVID has naturally affected how nearly everybody works. At AG Towers, this has meant an exodus for the marketing, support, web development and admin teams to their respective nests at home. As the world appears to have experienced, working from home has its moments, but also significant advantages.
What we experienced as a team was a simultaneous increase in happiness and efficiency. Due to a very close-knit and trusted team, combined with a decade of experience of remote working with long-serving distant colleagues, we have taken a relatively extreme approach to management. It effectively can be distilled down to letting people make their own decisions. Everybody knows the company plan and gets on with their elements in the best way that suits them, and colleagues they work with regularly.
It's not been a "brave" or "revolutionary" change in work ethics. It simply felt right for Astute Graphics and our team.
The end result is a product and service that has improved in leaps and bounds over the past 20+ months, along with a sense of pride amongst the team and demonstrable happiness of our amazing customers!
With the office still existing physically, it no longer represents the 9-5, Monday-Friday desk-infested cube that it previously was. Instead, the needs and demands have changed, mainly to allow colleagues to meet physically to discuss matters that simply remain "cold" online. Astute Graphics is a huge innovator in our industry, much of this leading from free and open internal discussions.
With the change in needs, our office space needed to shift into focus too.
Therefore, it's with genuine joy that recent developments in Hereford have resulted in an astonishing new business facility that will benefit Astute Graphics and the whole city.
"Business hubs" are far from a new concept. We've had the pleasure of visiting impressive hubs in the USA and UK. But few match the potential of the new Shell Store in Hereford, fresh from a hand-over by the builders, and only recently having opened its doors to new growth businesses.
Officially an Incubation Centre, focusing on building fantastic new, local opportunities, it encompasses all a business requires; private offices, business operation facilities (gigabit broadband, common reception, meeting rooms) and, most importantly, a café! It is already the new location for some truly helpful UK business support services including the Marches Growth Hub, Herefordshire Council Economic Development team, Hereford Enterprise Zone team and the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce. Not only does this allow for public sector business advice and support, information on grants and help, but also the making of a thriving and brand-new enterprise community.
Astute Graphics is very pleased to announce, as a leading local technology innovation business, that it is amongst the very first occupants of the Shell Store. We will be one of a handful of more mature businesses-in-residence that will interact and potentially assist and advise start-ups.
It would be a privilege for Astute Graphics to be a part of this new growth.
Our new home for teamwork, innovation and instructional video recording — coupled with the additional expansion on offer following further potential investment — will allow Astute Graphics to continue to grow to the next, exciting level!
Why is it called the Shell Store? In World War I and II, Hereford was one of the major bomb manufacturing sites in the UK. The Shell Store building, much of the character having being retained, was one of many vast buildings located in a large manufacturing site, churning out ordnance shells. The majority of the hard and dangerous work was done by the "Canary Girls", so-called due to the yellowing of their skin following exposure to the chemicals used in the explosives.
The building's pillar-less construction (for a very short time, the largest enclosed, open floor, space in the UK) is unique in that it was specifically designed to withstand a blast from within. Even though the Shell Store itself was for the cleaning of shells manufactured elsewhere prior to filling, if an explosion took place, the walls and roof would not survive, but the steelwork would. Thankfully, this was never truly tested.
Numerous similar buildings in the area have been demolished, but several have been adopted by local manufacturing companies. The Shell Store is by far the most ambitious re-imagining of the original building, one which was dragged from decay over many years of neglect.
Internally, "pods" have been built with an internal walkway perimeter. These pods are used as offices, meeting spaces, conference venues, the central café, ensuring many of the original architectural features remain gloriously in-tact. This includes the overhead rail tracks and a carefully maintained exposed floor area where the round shell cases were dropped (empty!) repeatedly on the ground.
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