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Harris Bugg Studio introduces new ‘Common Good’ manifesto

We speak to Charlotte Harris, joint director of Harris Bugg Studio, to find out about what the company’s new programme ‘The Common Good’ entails and how it formalises their commitment to people, place, and planet.

The Common Good, launched at Harris Bugg Studio earlier this month, is a new programme that has evolved and formed around the studio’s commitment to people, place, and planet. After lots of conversation, ideas and brain storming, the programme was mutually agreed by the team of nine.

According to Charlotte and Hugo, the three principles go in hand-in-hand in creating a happy and creative work-space full of passionate employees. The duo recognises the need for people to achieve more harmony in their lives, as well as work in an environment that prioritises wellbeing as a key driver for enjoyment and innovation.

Will Johnson CMLI, landscape architect at Harris Bugg Studio, said: “The Common Good formalises much of what has been evolving at Harris Bugg Studio since its inception almost five years ago. It reflects that we are a collective, looking out for one other, and that we are valued, appreciated and encouraged to grow. It provides a strong sense of involvement in how the practice is run for everyone, no matter what stage their career is at, and emphasises the sense of shared and mutual responsibility.”

‘People’ is a principle of the manifesto which includes the introduction of a 4.5 day working week, and other benefits such as paid sabbaticals, flexible working, paid volunteering opportunities, a professional development programme, railcards, free HRT prescriptions, and much more.

Charlotte explained: “For us, ethics come first. People are our greatest asset, and we hope the Common Good will lead to happier staff who have better physical and mental wellbeing.” She continued: “The evidence is there. When people feel good and happy at work, they take less days off sick, staff are better retained, and it can also be easier to recruit better people.”

‘Place’ is a principle focusing on exactly how the studio produces work, and how the team can better connect to the studio’s vision for people and nature. ‘Place’ encapsulates what the studio is known for – “our work respectfully weaves stories and the spirit of place to produce beautiful, memorable and lasting landscapes and gardens.”

The final principle, ‘Planet’, is an area reiterating how responsibility, care and sustainability is integrated throughout the studio’s work at every level. Charlotte added: “We work with locally sourced materials and always aim to reuse what we can. We strive to ensure we are always evolving and stretching ourselves, and formalising factors like this is so important in allowing us to think about what we can do next, and helps us develop as a studio together.”

Hugo Bugg (joint director) and Charlotte have been discussing the launch of this programme for a long time now. Charlotte said: “The manifesto offers a clear framework where its principles should lead to an improved quality of life at work.”

Although much of what is involved in the programme was already in practice, Charlotte explained the global pandemic sharpened their view, and further inspiration materialised from the company’s clients across the EU who have clear boundaries in place for their work and time. Charlotte discussed her thoughts on the prevailing working style adopted by many across the UK and concluded that there is a “dysfunctional” way of working where overtime and “jamming in hours” is rewarded and glamorised.

Charlotte and Hugo believe the time has come to look at how we can work differently, and Harris Bugg Studio are keen to be at the forefront of that discussion.

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