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Things To Do

Behind the Door of… The Bloom Project

We take a look at The Bloom Project, a new development that's putting staff first

10 minutes Last updated:
The Bloom Project

It’s always good to see a company that takes the well-being of staff seriously – looking carefully at the working environment, both in terms of surroundings and atmosphere – and a new development on Grey Street is putting all this into practice.

We spoke to Alex Auld, Operations Director of The Bloom Project, about what’s happening at their development at 18-24 Grey Street.

Most of us have probably worked in some fairly unhealthy working environments, where everything from a loud colour scheme to a frantic environment can really wear you down. The family behind FAM Investments have decided to meet these issues head on with their Grey Street building, naming it The Bloom Project and putting a lot of thought into every little detail of the development to create something healthy and welcoming.

The Grey Street property is the first building the company has purchased and managed. They bought it back in 2018 but COVID delayed any development plans for a while. There are some tenants in situ from before the purchase and they’re adding more at the time – the building is at 75% occupancy and Alex is hoping that a social media and website relaunch in January will push them over the line to full occupancy. The current occupants are the kind of mixture of businesses – solicitors, construction companies, recruitment – you’d expect to find in any city centre building.

“We didn’t set out to buy a property on Grey Street,” Alex explains, “but what an opportunity! To own something on the most prestigious street in the North East! We just saw it and fell in love with it, you know? To have a small part of NE1 is like a dream come true.”

We asked Alex what the driver was in their desire to run The Bloom Project a little differently to most properties.

“Our brand document is all about staff retention and staff wellness. A happy staff is good for business. We don’t want to be a typical landlord where you collect rent and that’s the end of the relationship. We’re very much hands on - myself and my two sisters (Kristie and Olivia) are front of house, Monday to Friday, and very passionate about building relationships with the tenants and staff here.”

The Auld sisters have some forward thinking ideas about well-being in the work environment, and have called in some experts to put their idea into practice.

“All of the Bloom Project staff will be mental health first aid trained, and we’re in partnership with John from Corp Fitness - he offers discounts on personal training for anyone occupying the Bloom Project. He also offers wellbeing tips which we put on our monthly newsletter, that goes out to all our tenants. We also include information from (mental health charity) MIND, and information about any fundraising things we’re doing for them. For example we just had a Christmas jumper day to raise money, or the Mental Health run that we did. We share healthy recipes. We’ll have monthly wellness topics, like Sleep or Nutrition, a monthly focus.”

Working with MIND has enabled Alex to develop some of her ideas about staff retention and well-being.

“Even if we just recommend the MIND counselling or the support lines to the businesses here, I think it all works hand in hand.”, she explains. “We’re going to be holding wellbeing nights for the members of the Bloom Project. Someone from MIND is going to come and do talks, as well as John from Corp, who’s going to come in and talk about stress management and healthy diets. And he really focuses on women’s health, things like the menopause. We’re looking at hosting events out of hours or in lunchtimes, just to raise awareness really.“

This focus on enhancing staff well-being has been at the forefront of the Auld family’s minds throughout the development work they’ve done since buying the building, the bulk of which is now complete.

“We thought about it a lot, from the materials that we used in the building process – we used a lot of natural materials - to the colour scheme. We haven’t used any bright, bold colours, we want to create a calm environment for people coming to work. Especially after covid, because people got used to working at their kitchen tables! And we’re introducing greenery – we’re putting a tree in reception, trying to bring the outdoors inside.”

Their plans even extend to the street itself.

“We are in discussions with the council, we haven’t really progressed with the outside area yet but in the future we would like to have an  external seated area for people to work outside, We did originally look at having a Bloom Project café with an outdoor seating area but after covid, our business plans changed a bit and we’ve done away with that idea.”

We asked Alex to sum up what they’re trying to achieve with The Bloom Project.

“We’ve done quite a lot of market research and we found that a lot of businesses see Grey Street as a ‘final destination’ for successful businesses! So we’re just trying to offer a nice working environment, something a little different, not just an office. A sense of community!”

The Bloom Project is an excellent venture with some big ideas and strong principles, and is sure to play its part in the changes that are happening to Grey Street in general. Hopefully what Alex and her sisters are doing will be part of a general shift in attitudes and approaches in the business community, taking staff well-being seriously and creating healthy, happy working environments for everyone.

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