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One Year at The Refinery

One Year at The Refinery

When we set ourselves the mammoth task of designing and creating a new, state-of-the-art HQ in 2015, we knew that the resulting facility had to deliver for both our clients and our staff. The 2 year-long process saw The Refinery built from the ground up – an amazing watch for the entire team as we were able to see our new home come to life.

The Refinery during the build

Above anything else, we wanted to create an office space that represented the people and personality of EMS, which meant involving employees from across the group in the design process from the very start. It was also an opportunity to match our office environment with the transformational work we do day-in day-out to create immersive brand experiences for clients. One year in, it’s safe to say the results have been tremendous.

With every detail of the fit-out, we tried to challenge expectations – particularly of what would be considered the norm for an industrial estate. The look and feel of The Refinery is very much that of a slick, city centre location, but with the additional space to provide a truly unique experience for staff and clients alike. The name itself was chosen as a reflection of the industrial history of our surroundings, as well as the design and production element of our work.

“The Refinery. Noun: a production facility used to refine raw materials into products of value.”

The introduction of The Factory – a purpose-built warehouse on our 3-acre site directly adjacent to the office space – has allowed us to produce and house all our trucks in one location. The real benefit here has been in our engagement with new and existing clients. It is a fantastic space to bring people allowing us to really show off the units. Bringing design capabilities in-house has also contributed to an all-round more efficient design to production process – something we’re continually looking to improve.

The Factory has already had a role to play in developing a number of ‘firsts’ for the business, including the production of the largest video cube installed in a roadshow truck, which is now touring Europe. And the UK’s first mobile decontamination unit for EMS Healthcare, which has now successfully launched on site with the Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust.

EMS HQ 'The Refinery'

In terms of the office space, perhaps the biggest change to layout was bringing all of the group’s staff onto one level. This has sparked a behaviour change across the agency, allowing for more collaborative and agile working. Flexible working spaces have also played a big part here – our specially designed hubs and break out areas have proved really popular, allowing for group and individual work away from the desk.

One of the more unusual design choices saw our café positioned centrally in the office space – this was the cause of some apprehension but has been one of the biggest wins, providing a great space for people from across the office to quite literally meet in the middle! 

More space has also meant we’ve been able to introduce a raft of new social activities. From BBQs and yoga classes on the terrace, to ping pong tournaments on the mezzanine – the last year has been characterised by everyone coming together.


Other highlights have seen us welcome clients to use The Factory as a film studio, training or event space – adding another dimension to the benefits we can offer clients.

As we continue to work towards ensuring EMS remains a great place to work and a fantastic company to do business with, The Refinery will have a central role. As an office space and HQ it absolutely represents everything that EMS is about, and as the company grows a priority will be ensuring we continue to make the most out of this wonderful space.

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