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DCMS opens largest hub outside London at Manchester's Bloc

News, Bruntwood Works, Manchester City Centre
Bruntwood Works Bloc Manchester

Bruntwood Works has welcomed a roster of new businesses to its community at Bloc, including the government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), who selected the wellbeing-focused Pioneer workspace as the location for their largest hub outside London.

The workspace and leisure arm of the Bruntwood Group, Bruntwood Works reported a sharp rise in demand for high-quality workspaces centered around wellness and productivity following the pandemic.

As part of this growing demand, DCMS has opened its largest office in the north of England, taking more than 12,000 sq ft of fully managed space across two floors at Bloc, enough to accommodate up to 400 staff.

The move comes as the culture department expands its presence across the UK, tapping into a more diverse talent pool.

Also setting up an office at Bloc is leading insurance provider Direct Line Group (DLG), with the business seeking a high-quality, collaborative workspace to provide greater flexibility for its teams. DLG now occupies 7,600 sq ft at Bloc, choosing a workspace which promotes greater work/life balance for their hybrid workforce.

Verastar, a business services provider, also recently chose Bloc as it looked for a new, cutting-edge home to support its plans to recruit up to 150 staff. Combined, the roster of new customers have taken close to 35,000 sq ft at the iconic building, showing the increasing demand for high-quality and sustainable workspaces that support productivity and wellbeing, from businesses across the city and those expanding into Manchester for the first time. 

Workplace wellness has increasingly become one of the top priorities for customers, and Bruntwood Works has seen a surge in customer demand for high-quality workspaces that provide comprehensive facilities, flexibility, and support a healthy work/life balance.

Centered around wellness and productivity, Bloc features a raft of quality workspaces, amenities and technology that have all been designed to improve workplace wellbeing and boost productivity for the building’s diverse community of businesses.

Bloc is the latest workspace to be transformed as part of Bruntwood Works’ £100m Pioneer programme, which is creating vibrant, community-focused workspaces focused on six key pillars: biophilia, art, sustainability, wellness, amenity and technology. 

Customers at Bloc have access to a wealth of wellbeing features which help to bring balance to business, including: a state-of-the-art wellness studio, RESET by FORM, which hosts a rolling programme publicly accessible yoga, pilates and wellbeing-based classes, a sleep pod and a cascading garden in the foyer. There is also a pop-up room that is available for local independent businesses to hire - providing a much-needed space to offer private consultation in areas as wide ranging as healthcare and counselling, and consulting and financial services.

The building’s customers can also make use of its numerous workspaces in the ground floor lounge, which include coworking desks along with relaxed soft seating, or find a space in the basement Refocus Room, a soothing work environment which supports mental wellbeing. Customers can also take advantage of the on-site coffee shop by Trove which offers artisanal brews and teas, treats from their local sourdough bakery, plus a menu of brunch dishes and light lunches.

Bloc’s sustainability focus is also a key reason the new customers chose to relocate there. The building features innovative systems to optimise air quality, sensors to inform space utilisation and a Building Management System that supports the efficient use of energy within the building. A cutting-edge, two-storey living wall that provides oxygen and helps reduce noise levels wraps around the façade, complemented by a blue/green roof that reduces the discharge of rainwater and features wildflowers to support biodiversity and provide an additional thermal barrier.

The building offers a range of workspace options that cater for businesses of all sizes, from coworking, serviced offices and traditional leased spaces that range from 500 sq ft to 7,500 sq ft to All Inclusive options which provide larger, private spaces. All workspace includes membership to the Collective, Bruntwood Works’ digital community platform, Spark business support and events, plus access to a broad range of amenities. Bloc is home to a wide range of creative and digital businesses, with customers including digital marketing agency Jellyfish and digital delivery accelerator, AND Digital.

Jack Maher, Senior Commercial Manager at Bruntwood Works, said: “Now more than ever we’ve seen a notable increase in demand for sustainable workspaces that enhance the lives of customers and communities, by blending work and lifestyle with world-class amenities, cutting-edge technology and wellbeing facilities. 

“There’s a real flight to quality, with a widespread desire for forward-thinking workspaces that create an environment where people want to come to work and accelerate the future of our cities. We’re immensely proud that prestigious groups such as the DCMS and Direct Line Group have chosen Bloc as their future home, and look forward to welcoming the teams to our Bruntwood Works community.”

Tim Newns, Chief Executive, MIDAS - Greater Manchester’s Inward Investment agency, said “We’re delighted to have supported DCMS in establishing their new Manchester base. Digital is a primary driver of growth in Greater Manchester and the UK and this move reflects our status as one of Europe’s leading digital cities.”

Councillor Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This is welcome news. Not only is it a reflection of Manchester's role as a northern epicentre for culture, media and sport - and our thriving tech sector - it is also move which should help stimulate further innovation and investment in the city and beyond.

"The city is at the heart of a huge and diverse talent pool and tapping into will benefit the Government as well as bringing hundreds of jobs and other opportunities here.

“Government must not be concentrated in the capital and having more decision-makers based in the north should help bring a different perspective. Our door is always open to discuss further such relocations.”

Bruntwood Works wishes to thank MIDAS, the inward investment promotion agency for Manchester, on their pivotal role in DCMS’s move to Bloc. DCMS was represented by JLL.

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