Life on the Park: In conversation with Greg Willetts, Vice President, Technology, Consulting & Innovation of Jacobs

05 January 2023

As the North West’s largest out-of-town business destination, Birchwood Park’s diverse culture is made up of professionals at all levels and industries who come together in one place to enjoy our pioneering facilities, services and amenities.

Among the many sectors our occupiers operate in, Birchwood Park is a long-established centre for innovation in science, technology and nuclear. Much of our legacy as a nuclear hub can be traced back more than six decades when the Park became home to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

Most recently, the Park welcomed the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, which helps UK companies secure work across the nuclear sector – in new build, operations and decommissioning.

No surprise then, that Birchwood Park’s largest occupier, technical and professional services firm Jacobs, is a global leader in the nuclear industry. This is their biggest UK site, employing about 1,000 scientists, project managers, engineers, and consultants.

Jacobs has engineering design centres, materials testing laboratories, workshops, and office space at Bridgewater Place, 601 Faraday Street, Walton House, Newton House and Lovell House.

Greg Willetts, Vice President, Technology, Consulting & Innovation of Jacobs, told us how the facilities at Birchwood Park help Jacobs employees to produce innovative and exceptional work while maintaining their health and wellbeing.

Greg explained that Jacobs remains at the Park after 60 years because the versatile and flexible space they occupy is “a perfect fit for the type of work we deliver for our clients, as we use a mix of testing laboratories, workshops and office space”.

Given that the Park is situated close to busy university cities in Manchester and Liverpool, the company can attract a highly skilled talent pool which is critical for delivering innovative work. Many of Jacobs’ employees live in and around Warrington, benefiting from the town’s superb quality of life.

Greg added, “The location of the Park is a hugely beneficial for us. Warrington is a great place to live and work and transport networks make it easily accessible for our clients and the companies we work with.”

In addition to our desirable position and pioneering facilities, the onsite environment the Birchwood Park team has cultivated for occupiers ensures that all employees can reach both their personal and professional potential.

“We regularly use the amenities at Birchwood Park, especially the conference and meeting facilities in the Engine Rooms as the lecture theatre can accommodate the needs of our large workforce,” said Greg.

Workplace Wellbeing

The Birchwood Park team are renowned for supporting occupiers to significantly improve their ‘workplace wellbeing’ through number of key initiatives, including the creation of the dedicated Wellbeing Hub, which offers a wide range of best practise advice and tips to help it easier for businesses achieve greater wellbeing at work.

Greg said this ethos is echoed by Jacobs. “The Park shares our values when it comes to employee wellbeing, which ensures that we are in the very best of hands,” he explained, “Encouraging employees to look after their physical and mental wellbeing is very important and many of our employees take full advantage of the community activities the Park has to offer.”

The evolution of work after Covid

With about 60,000 employees worldwide, Jacobs certainly felt the disruption brought on by the global pandemic. With a large workforce at Birchwood Park, Jacobs had to act strategically and decisively to maintain uninterrupted work at each of its laboratories and testing facilities.

Greg explained, “Like every other company we had to quickly adapt to continue to deliver our clients’ projects, while keeping our staff safe. While this meant for the majority of people working at home initially, we also deliver some critical national projects which meant our laboratories and test facilities never closed.”

Understanding the urgency that was required at this time, the Birchwood Park team ensured the necessary buildings were adapted to meet with Government Covid-19 guidelines. This gave Jacobs’ employees the confidence to return to the Park and implement their own safety protocols, ensuring each project was delivered without delay.

Greg said, “Some of our roles require a full-time physical presence due to the nature of the work. I still can’t thank enough our team who literally overnight put in place robust safety processes and our staff who worked every day.

“Adapting to working at home was difficult and staff were supported at every stage, but we now know that a hybrid working model suits some people and tasks and we have maintained this flexibility and the positive aspects of home working where they are good for the business and for employees.”

To embrace the transition to hybrid working, Jacobs has invested in a refurbishment of 601 Faraday Street, with new collaborative working areas designed for people who come into the office on two or three days per week for mainly face-to-face interaction.

Greg added, “These changes have meant that people use the office more because the space is much better suited to their needs. I also know many of our staff take advantage of Birchwood Park’s free bus and the gym facilities, which are highly rated and encourage people to come to the office as much as possible.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the wide range of facilities and office space available at Birchwood Park or want to know more about our community-led workplace experience, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Current Occupiers