ONE of York's biggest employers has unveiled plans to invest £9million in upgrading its city site to create a new post-pandemic workplace.

Nestlé plans to refurbish its Nestlé House offices in York to create a greener, more flexible working environment for a post-Covid world.

The work at the Haxby Road site will see the office space transformed to offer new and varied working areas, including traditional desk space and designated quiet areas, with more places for people to meet and to collaborate informally.

After more than a year of working from home, Nestlé employees are expected to maintain a blend of home and office working in the future.

The build, which includes a revamp of the plumbing, heating and electrics, has been brought forward so that work can begin while there are fewer people on site.

It is the first major refurbishment since Nestlé House was built in 1969. The new office, which houses 900 employees, is scheduled to reopen from January 2022.

Stefano Agostini, CEO for Nestlé UK & Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be investing in our York site. Nestlé House is the home of our famous confectionery business and many of our critical functions. It has a significant heritage and is fundamental to the future of our business.

“This investment will help us to provide a modern working environment that supports the health and wellbeing of our people. The new design provides a collaborative working space which is essential for us to come together and connect.

“The design is also kinder to the planet, with energy efficiency solutions to reduce the amount of energy required for heating, lighting and cooling in the building, among other improvements. This supports Nestlé’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach our target of ‘net zero’ by 2050."

Nestlé’s head of workplace and wellbeing, Jo Ward, said: “We see work as something you do, not a desk that you go to every day.

"We have learned through our observation and research in Nestlé House even before the pandemic, that only 60 per cent of our current desks were being used at any given time and that very few people spent their full working day at a desk. Instead, their time was more often spent moving between various meeting rooms.

“We know people want to come together to work together and connect but they also need the option of quiet space to focus in a different way so our designs reflect this. We have created a variety of working zones so we can encourage employees to work in the area most appropriate for the work they are doing throughout the day. This should allow a much more flexible and efficient use of office space,” added Ward.

Once restrictions are lifted there will be a number of temporary options for employees wanting to work on the site and there are plans for dogs to return to the office with their owners once the refurbishment is complete.

An upgrade to the ground floor of Nestlé House, including new reception, meeting area, gymnasium and redesigned restaurant was completed two years ago. This ground floor area will be one of those available for employees to meet and work together while the other floors are being renovated, once restrictions can be lifted.

Nestlé is the largest employer in York with the Haxby Road site home to several of the company’s key functions; its confectionery headquarters, distribution centre and global research and development facility; and the factory which produces KitKat.