80 Charlotte Street. Credit: Jack Hobhouse; 80 Charlotte Street. Credit: Jack Hobhouse;
Advisory hub

People and organisations

We can develop your people, skills and organisation, putting you in the strongest position to deliver major projects and programmes.

Rob Jones is a Director, Organisation Consulting at Arup

Rob Jones

UKIMEA People & Organisations Leader

We can develop your people, skills and organisation, putting you in the strongest position to deliver major projects and programmes.

Across the built environment and infrastructure sector, large and complex organisations are delivering critical national services, from rail networks to energy grids or water systems. It’s a sector that values high performance while often having to overcome institutional and organisational friction. It’s also a sector that has to balance commercial imperatives with the need to meet government targets, in an environment where contractual commitments keep evolving.

Our People and Organisations team are specialists in helping these bodies to find better ways of working, leading to a shared culture within a joint venture or public/private partnership.

With so many intersecting global trends now assailing business – from digital transformation to flexible working to the accelerating transition to net zero operations – our team helps clients to define the best way forward and achieve the desired change and improvement.

Our work responds to five strategic challenges in the built environment:

  • Collaboration across complex organisations: we help multi-stakeholder and joint-venture organisations to adopt common working practices and deliver major projects.

  • Higher performance teams: we coach and advise leaders on how to hire, develop and run high performance teams.

  • Sustainability as a culture: we craft effective sustainability strategies, to embed behaviours that create the desired culture.

  • Improved resilience: we can help you to understand and respond to existing vulnerabilities or weaknesses in skills, supply chains, or operations, discovering new opportunities for growth in the process.

  • Digital transformation: we develop human-centred digital transformation strategies that start with people, their skills, behaviours and productivity.

Become effective collaborators

In most major projects, collaboration is a clear priority, yet difficult to achieve. Beyond hiring the right people with the right skills and experience, you need to be organised in a way that promotes real understanding, cooperation and innovation. We often work with partnerships or joint-ventures who need to quickly develop effective cross-team working, overcoming the diverging elements of different, pre-existing corporate cultures.

Change management for HS2

Change management for HS2

The UK’s HighSpeed 2 network is being delivered by a consortium comprising 100+ organisations. We are change managers for HS2, conducting team workshops, establishing greater collaboration across leadership teams, coaching them so that the organisation can meet recognised international standards, and develop a truly effective, shared way of working on this long-term national infrastructure programme.

Future operating strategy for Perth Transport Authority

Future operating strategy for Perth Transport Authority

Sometimes a step change in service demands a clear map of new processes, systems and people change to deliver transformation and new ways of working. Thanks to expansion of the Perth transport network, its Train Control Centre was fast reaching physical capacity. Our work for Perth Transport Authority provided them with a future operating strategy and plan for their new control centre addressing six themes: co-location, incident management, employee wellbeing, passenger experience, and recruitment, training and competence.

Develop high-performance teams

High-performance teams are central to delivery of every major built environment or infrastructure project. Clients ask us, ‘do we have the right people, and are we developing them in the right way?’ They want our help to determine that their organisation is the right shape for the goals they have set themselves. On major capital programmes, it’s also vital that leaders have the right skills, and can overcome internal organisational boundaries when needed, while delivering within the desired governance structures.

We’ve been leading a successful London Underground customer service improvement programme for the last 3 years, with clear targets to both drive up internal engagement and improve the passenger experience. We mapped the customer experience and used psychological analysis to gain deeper insights into the workplace experience across the network.

We also provide valuable external direction on major change programmes or new business directions. Faced with the need to grow their network operation, Caltrain, the Californian mass transit operator asked us to conduct an organisational assessment of their entire operation, finding ways to improve their talent and attraction processes. We also improved the level of collaboration, ensuring innovation was being encouraged, while helping them to operationalise a new business plan, target operating model and workforce plan.

Gain a culture of sustainability

As the world races to achieve a net zero economy and sustainability reshapes every business decision, many leaders are confronting the need for cleaner, greener and more sustainable assets and operations. Even with clear targets and the most talented team in place, real and enduring change means mobilising your entire organisation in unfamiliar ways. Our organisational experts can help you to implement an effective sustainability strategy, putting in place the right governance and organisational structure, supported by the relevant roles, culture and rewards.

Featured project

Helping Network Rail prepare for climate challenges

We’ve been helping Network Rail, operating a 200+ year old network, to prepare themselves for 21st century climate challenges. They had set themselves emissions reduction targets and prepared a new environmental strategy, recognising that this would take a shift of mindset. They wanted to widen their understandable focus on performance, cost and safety to get route directors, engineers, managers to adopt environmental considerations in everyday tasks. Our workshops and training are helping them to translate written commitments into shared behaviours, across its five UK regions. We established a baseline level of understanding of sustainability issues in rail, and helped leaders to define actions that will push the agenda forward within Network Rail, both in their own operations and the actions of their supply chain.

Digital transformation is people-led

Successful digital transformation is about far more than investing in technology. We help clients to realise the advantages of digital at the people and experience level – that means aligning investments in technology with training, skills and related cultural change. We help organisations think through the cultural and operational implications of digital transformation, whatever form it takes in your market or sector.

Discover how our digital services can help your business

Build resilience, agility, and wellbeing

For an organisation to be truly resilient, its people must develop adaptive capacity. That means that when the underlying operating environment changes, the organisation and its people are able to adapt and change, remaining productive and profitable.

Issues like the global pandemic and the growing effects of climate change, present challenges to every kind of organisation. These issues also bring clarity to existing strengths and weaknesses, as well as revealing new opportunities, particularly around ways of working. We are helping clients in many different sectors to navigate and respond to these significant changes, finding ways to preserve and extend an organisation’s culture in a world of flexible working.

Establishing organisational resilience

Organisational resilience is the ability of an organisation  to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to change and sudden disruptions. We support our clients to create a comprehensive understanding of the resilience of their organisation or asset through a 5-step approach.

Find out more about organisational resilience

Horizon scanning

Horizon scanning is a new way to build resilience by learning from the recent past, present and near future. Our Foresight team is a think tank for the built environment sector, able to thread multiple factors together to plot out complex future scenarios that can inform your immediate actions.

Find out more about our Foresight team

Discover how our team can help

You can access our Advisory Services through regional consultants around the world. Wherever you’re based, we can help you look beyond your sector to explore new sources of inspiration and identify opportunities for growth.

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