A new base in Seaham is part of an ambitious programme to improve services for over 18,000 believe housing customers and review staff accommodation across the organisation.
The new office is part of believe housing’s plan to improve services offered to customers in homes stretching from the Durham coast to the North Pennines. The housing association is also introducing new ways for tenants to get in touch, including a specially designed app, and reviewing its practices to become more responsive to the needs of customers.
The award-winning housing association has agreed a 15-year lease of a three-storey office at Spectrum Business Park to replace its existing accommodation there. The new office will have space for more than 300 employees and will be equipped with new technology to allow staff to work virtually too.
Fit-out of the new office has already begun with staff expected to move in during February 2020. Investment has also been made in new IT equipment to ensure that all officers from believe housing will be able to work wherever they need to across the county and improve productivity.
New ways of working and expansion in Seaham will allow believe housing to consolidate its offices in the eastern and central parts of County Durham. Over the life of the new Spectrum office the revised accommodation portfolio is expected to save in excess of £2m; all of which will be reinvested in homes and services for customers. The review of office space and more responsive working is also expected to have a positive impact on the carbon footprint of believe housing by reducing unnecessary travelling and improving energy efficiency.
Chief Executive of believe housing, Bill Fullen, said: “We looked at a variety of options when we were reviewing our office accommodation. But Spectrum offered the best combination of space, accessibility and value for money. Seaham is close to a large number of our customers and makes a great base for our employees too.
“The new office is not just about reviewing the space we use though, it’s about new ways of working. We depend predominantly on our people and we’re providing them with the tools they need to do their job regardless of physical location. These changes are designed to help our employees be in the right place at the right time to provide the high-quality services our tenants depend on.”
Board Chair of believe housing, Judith Common, added: “I expect our customers to see some very positive changes in our services over the coming months as our people are able to spend more time in the communities we serve and be more responsive to the needs of tenants.
“We realise that even in an age dominated by digital technology, face to face contact is still really important for some of our customers. The changes we’re making will help to make sure that contact is still available alongside the latest innovations.”
Spectrum Business Park developer Paul Wellstead said: “Spectrum Business Park is home to some of the region’s biggest and most innovative companies, which between them employ over 3,000 people, and over the past couple of years has really established itself as one of the most sought after business locations in the North East.
“The decision by believe housing to move into the three-storey Spectrum 4 is a further boost and I am confident that is one of many positive announcements which will be made as we move towards full occupancy.”
Meridian Court in Shotton and two believe housing offices in Meadowfield, Durham will be closed during 2020, with employees using offices in Seaham or Bishop Auckland when needed. The changes reflect the ever-growing number of tenants who prefer to use digital means of communication rather than visiting physical offices as well as the move to increase the amount of time staff spend in communities.