In the 12 months since Construction Industry News last caught up with Oktra, the office design and fit out specialist has not only enjoyed further commercial success, but has continued to attract an impressive amount of award recognition.
“2019 was a great year for us in terms of growth,” explains Nic Pryke, Oktra’s Design Director. “Our northern office in Stafford is now fully established; supplementing our original London office and our southern office in Guildford. Across our three businesses we’re on course to carry out over £130m worth of work in 2020, which is amazing.”
Underlining Oktra’s upward trajectory is an imminent move to its new 18,500 sq ft headquarters in Hatton Gardens. “This is a really exciting development as it will enable us to showcase the latest products and illustrate to clients how an agile workspace can perform,” adds Pryke. “Despite the uncertainty surrounding issues such as Brexit, we are continuing to secure more projects and recruit the additional staff needed to support this growth, which is really encouraging.”
While commercial success is the overriding priority for any company, the fact that Oktra continues to garner awards is another indicator thatthe company is on the right track. For the third year running, Oktra has been named in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For. This tremendous consistency was highlighted further when Oktra was named Design and Build Company of the Year at the Mixology Awards 2019 and included in the Sunday Times Top Track 250. Oktra has also been shortlisted for a range of other accolades including the Planet Mark Award, an award which recognises companies’ efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.
“We had a very good year in terms of awards, particularly as we were recognised in a wide variety of areas, from design through to sustainability. Making The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list, for the third time, was particularly gratifying as we are a very people-orientated business. This approach has always been at the heart of our culture. We’re firm believers that if you look after your people, then they will look after your business. At a time when we’re looking to recruit in a fiercely competitive marketplace, it’s absolutely vital we demonstrate that we’re an attractive company to work for.”
This objective will also be apparent within Oktra’s new office, which will contain breakout areas for staff to rest or even sleep if necessary, as well as social areas with free beer on tap. “We’re very focused on the needs of our staff and are committed to providing them with all the tools they require to carry out their roles to the best of their abilities. There’ll be no hierarchy within the building; we’ll be working to generate a great deal of fluidity in order to encourage collaboration and create a sense of togetherness. It’s quite a radical idea but we’re confident it will pay dividends.”
Oktra’s commitment to its workforce is also reflected in its skills academy, which provides an ever-increasing range of courses and training programmes for employees. These courses cover everything from improving presentation and management skills through to specialist training in new systems and technology. For instance, the company is currently transitioning from AutoCAD to Revit drawing software, a process that is being fully underpinned by ongoing staff training.
This emphasis on continual internal improvement has given Oktra the capabilities to take on ever larger and more complex projects, as Pryke outlines: “One really interesting project we’re currently working on is Portsoken in London, which took a while to bring to life but is now onsite and progressing well. It has only been made possible by the growth and development we’ve achieved over the past eight years, since I started working for the company. Back then, a £1m project was a large undertaking for us. Now, we’re involved in a number of developments with a value between £1m and £5m, while Portsoken is considerably bigger – with a value in the tens of millions. Portsoken is a really exciting scheme because it involves the re-glazing and complete fit-out of a nine-storey building. It’s on course to be finished by Christmas and many London construction agents are monitoring its progress with interest. The project has already opened up doors for us. We’ve recently completed a project in Leeds on the back of it that involved the installation of a new floor on top of an existing building.”
Proactively broadening its skill set has allowed Oktra to make the most of the opportunities that are coming through. Understandably, Oktra is looking forward to what 2020 will bring.
“We’re obviously extremely excited about moving into our new office but in terms of projects, the continuing rise of co-working and the flexible office sector is full of potential,” concludes Pryke. “The traditional office is rapidly becoming something of the past, so we’re keen to work with clients on solutions that fulfil their needs and meet the requirements of their employees. This has been a major focus for us for several years now and this groundwork has helped bring a growing number of opportunities our way. We’re optimistic that this will continue.”
With a brand-new head office sure to inject added impetus into Oktra’s forward progression, 2020 is already shaping up to be another notable year for the company. We wouldn’t be a surprised if Oktra was to receive further award recognition soon!