“Welfare is at the heart of our organisation. It is the backbone of IWF’s success.”

Samantha O’Byrne, Head of Human Resources

Samantha Obyrne Head of HR


Recent staff expansion at the IWF meant we quickly outgrew our office space, creating home-based hybrid workers and office-based workers. While this didn’t affect productivity, we were concerned about the longer-term impact this may have on staff welfare and culture.  

Welfare is always at the top of the agenda for senior leadership at the IWF so we decided to take on additional office space and reunite colleagues. Creating this new space became a strategic objective for our organisation and our people’s needs drove the thinking behind the design. 

As our Hotline team take mandatory breaks every 50 minutes and have monthly counselling sessions at the office, it was vital to create safe and relaxing spaces in which these activities could take place. We created a warm atmosphere through natural light and the use of colour, and split spaces into zones to allow interactions to occur in a genuine and meaningful way.  

Soft furnishings such as sofas and dining booths were used in counselling rooms and social spaces. Relaxation areas were designed where people could have casual conversations and celebrate achievements. And meeting rooms were fitted out to accommodate on and off-line meetings, deliver training and hold Board meetings for strategic decisions. 

Open spaces were created to eliminate barriers and promote team cohesion, and spaces also made for when privacy was needed. Zoned workspaces were thought out to create areas for teamwork, individual workspace, informal meetings and quiet zones. This meant people could choose the right space needed for the work they were doing.  

The mental welfare of our analysts and assessors is paramount. Their mandatory monthly counselling now takes place in rooms where there is comfort, strong links to nature and an ability to personalise the space. They can lay on a sofa, darken the room, or use it like their own living room.  

The new social areas allow them to play air hockey, pool, table tennis, use a VR headset or collaborate on jigsaws while listening to the TV or music. There is always free fruit on the lunch table and endless homemade goodies to share and cement the notion of the IWF family. 

It's not just the environment we’ve worked hard at. We know from asking our people that they can see our welfare strategy being lived and implemented. They say we are very good at listening and understanding their needs, and that we recognise our employees as people and not just numbers. As one staff member commented:Welfare is at the heart of our organisation. It is the backbone of IWF’s success.”