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For anyone who’s not been here before, the NAO’s London office in Victoria is a grand building in the art deco style, with a clock tower, a flagpole and even its own statue. It was built in 1938, for Imperial Airways as their “Empire Terminal”, would you believe? Inside the building, large open plan offices dominate the […]

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Life in the London office

Posted on November 1, 2013 by

NAO office building in London
For anyone who’s not been here before, the NAO’s London office in Victoria is a grand building in the art deco style, with a clock tower, a flagpole and even its own statue. It was built in 1938, for Imperial Airways as their “Empire Terminal”, would you believe?

Inside the building, large open plan offices dominate the scene, with desks set out in long rows straddling the building. A central walkway runs the length of each floor. There are two kitchen areas on each level, equipped with sinks, fridges and drinking water taps (hot and cold). I didn’t know whether to be happy or not when I discovered that my own new kitchen was very similar to the ones in the office! The larger kitchens have tables and chairs so as well as being social spaces and somewhere to eat lunch (or breakfast) they are also used for meetings. While making my tea I often overhear snippets of conversation about weekend plans and X Factor on one side and audit visits and budgets on the other.

The office is open plan and based on hot desking. This means that staff don’t have their own desks, instead they book a desk when they are in the office. We have a clear desk policy so each morning begins with a visit to our lockers, where we keep our laptops, stationery and papers overnight.

Sometimes when everyone is engrossed in their work, all I can hear is the trains pulling into Victoria and the rattle of computer keyboards. More than once I’ve used the office’s instant messaging system to talk to a nearby colleague rather than disturb the peace by asking them what time they’re going for lunch! It’s not always quiet though: often there are rich opportunities for learning (and entertainment) by joining in the more informal conversations.

In my team there is a tradition of bringing edible treats on birthdays and after holidays or trips away, or just because it’s Friday. Great for morale, not so good for the waistline. We’re very handy for Victoria station and Sloane Square, and Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace are within walking distance. In short, of all the places where I could have worked, this ranks pretty highly!

For me, the work environment is important for my enjoyment of the job. What do other people think? Have you been for an interview and been impressed or put off by the surroundings? I’d love to read your comments!


Any questions? Join our Twitter Q&A on 18 November 2013

Have you got any questions around applying for our graduate scheme?

Rob from our recruitment team and Hannah, one of our trainee bloggers, will be available on Monday, 18 November 2013, from 4-5pm on Twitter (@naograduatejobs). Post your questions during the event and get an answer straight away.

If you cannot make the event, please tweet us beforehand @naograduatejobs and we will make sure to answer your questions during the live session.

Hashtag: #AskNAOgrads


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2 responses to “Life in the London office”

  1. Lis says:

    Hi Henry, thanks for your comment.

    There are certainly pros and cons to the desk sharing policy. On the one hand our offices feel very spacious and clean, and it’s easy to move around so that we can work in different teams. I quite like the fact that if I fancy a change I can just book a different desk and work next to some new people.

    On the other hand it does sometimes feel a bit impersonal and I too miss having plants around. I suppose they might all die when teams are away on audit visits though.

    I definitely agree with you about the people at the NAO making it a great place to work.

  2. Henry says:

    The NAO’s London building certainly made for an impressive sight when I first arrived for an interview. The lobby’s probably one of the more grandiose and imposing I’ve seen in my short working life.

    But with regards to the surroundings in the office space itself? Monotone to say the least; it’s all greys and whites without a plant in-sight! Perhaps it’s a result of the hot desk policy that staff aren’t able to keep desk-plants. Suffice to say, my Banana Plant carried over from my last job was very disappointed to be left at home.

    Nevertheless, as with any office, it’s the people that make it; and those at the NAO are great through and through!

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