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Inside the Ordnance Survey's new HQ for the digital era

Building designed with servers – and job losses – in mind

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Culture shock - mapping out the future

Behind the glamour of the impressive new build are the Ordnance Survey employees, many of whom have worked at the old office since it was opened by the Queen in 1969. Some of them have remained at the same desk for years, building up stacks of paperwork, wearing out the same bit of carpet and generally treating the tired old place like a home from home.

Ordnance Survey

This is where the magic will happen, it's believed

And unsurprisingly, those same workers don't like change and the prospect of moving to a swanky new building fills many of them with dread.

Ordnance Survey

Grim old building awaits bulldozer

The cultural shift is enormous for an organisation still in the process of re-defining itself as an agency fit for the demands of a digital age. That said, the Ordnance Survey is still very much in the business of selling paper maps, with over three million sold in the past year alone.

But then the OS, unlike so many of its quango peers, has survived a massive government cull and in fact continues to reshape its business by increasingly, so far at least, improving its offering both to the public and private sectors.

Ordnance Survey

But will this old A8 stereo plotter get rehoused?

The outfit's HR boss Jan Hutchison says of the OS: “Today we are a 21st century digital business, and the changes in technology over the past 40 years mean we now employ far fewer people than we did in 1969. Our new building has been designed specifically to meet the needs of modern map-making and it’s very exciting to now be finally moving in.”

The open-plan office at Adanac Park will likely feel alien to OS staff when they unpack their possessions there in the New Year. But there is one small glimmer of hope. A public footpath has already been built that leads straight to the local pub. ®

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