Working environment

Our exceptional work is delivered through team synergy. Our offices are important collaborative hubs where our people regularly meet. Face-to-face interaction lies at the heart of our culture of success.

An internal photo showing Max Fordham Bristol office, some are sitting and some are using the standing desks

Practice structure and governance

Collaborative working and human connection are fundamental to the values of our practice. Our office spaces are places where we can come together in person to work collaboratively, exchange ideas, develop knowledge and insights, celebrate achievements, connect with one another, and ignite our enthusiasm and passion for the work that we do. 

We place significant importance on human value, empowering our colleagues to excel both personally and professionally while fostering a supportive culture.

Our founding philosophy is fundamentally democratic and inclusive. It’s one where people enjoy the flexibilities of shared responsibility and ownership. Our people are drawn to this ideal which encourages individuals to use their voice in all decision making, creating a workplace they can be proud to be part of.

A group of more than 200 people standing in a garden smiling at the camera

From the very start, Max sought a collaborative approach to running a business. He felt that designing a system for people to work in productively and creatively was as important as the design of the buildings themselves.

Max was quoted as saying "It's a responsibility-sharing scheme, not a profit-sharing scheme” and "if they're fit to be an employee, then they're fit to be a Partner". These principles remain to this day.

More about our practice

Social value

We’re not just engineers, designers and consultants. We’ve always been mindful of our wider impact on communities, both in our design and through community engagement work. We recognise the positive value our business can have and how it can benefit the economy, the community, and society as a whole.

Our passionate Community Engagement Group drive our commitments to social value work, which operates on a 50:50 paid:voluntary basis. They champion and coordinate volunteering activities, encouraging participation from all our offices. Volunteers from our practice carry out activities ranging from litter picking to fundraising, foodbank volunteering to hosting afternoon teas, as well as frequent support work for young people, including teaching and lecturing, STEMnet activities and workshops, and offering Career Ready mentoring with local schools. 

Developing countries

Our Developing Countries Group was set up in 2005. This important work requires thinking outside the box, solving issues that we would not normally consider, while collaborating across countries and cultures. 

Max Fordham has a long history of working with organisations such as Article 25 on high-impact projects for low-income countries. We are proud members of ‘More Than a Building’ by Article 25 – a not-for-profit programme that helps to build schools and homes in developing countries, improving access to healthcare, education, and shelter.

Two girls in school uniform walking past Hampate Ba school in sunshine.

On philanthropic projects in less economically developed countries around the world, we provide engineering expertise on community projects that normally can’t access this kind of assistance. Projects range in scale from designing a single house to advising governments on school design.

We often work on education and healthcare buildings, addressing fundamental needs such as water, sanitation, and shelter. Our contributions are generally provided pro bono, supported by funding from the practice and the donation of time from staff.

More about our developing countries projects

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We strive to ensure our practice is truly representative of the society we live in. 

Our commitment is not only to eliminate and avoid discrimination, but to create an environment where our differences are celebrated and valued. To this end, we have an active EDI network, open to the whole practice, inviting contributions to the implementation of actions, and influencing policies and day-to-day practice life. 

Our EDI affinity groups are made up of people who share a common experience. These groups provide a supportive space for people to discuss their lived experiences and challenges in the workplace and contribute meaningfully to the broader group and overall EDI goals. 

To raise awareness and bring people together, key dates for celebration or remembrance are recognised at the practice through social events, talks or activities. Everyone also has the opportunity to share their personal lived experiences more broadly, both internally via presentations or blogs on our intranet, and externally via our journal.

“The buildings we inhabit, the cities we live in, the environment we enjoy and the planet we share are all the better for your efforts”

Max Fordham from his speech at our 50th anniversary celebration in 2016


People are at the heart of what we do. 

We show compassion, recognising that everyone needs a balanced and flexible approach towards work and home life. Ensuring our personal safety and physical and mental wellbeing is critical to fostering the positive motivation needed to deliver our best work, and we embrace that responsibility. We treat people with kindness and respect, accepting and celebrating all our differences. We make great efforts to protect and support our people professionally and personally. Beyond our core benefits package, we support individuals, those with families or caring responsibilities and provide care for colleagues during illness or challenging life events.

We care passionately about our people, believing in and trusting them. Our team of trained Mental Health First Aiders and dedicated Mental Health Champions in all our offices regularly provide guidance and direct individuals to professional support as needed.

We are partnered with an Employee Assistance Programme, offering counselling and support services to all our people to suit their individual needs and providing a confidential support network of expert and compassionate guidance. 

2022 CIBSE Building Performance Awards Max Fordham Consultancy of the Year (51-300 employees)
2021 Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) Max Fordham Net Zero Adviser of the Year (special commendation)
2019 Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA) Max Fordham Soft Landings Champion
2017 CIBSE Building Performance Awards Max Fordham Consultancy of the Year
2017 Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) Max Fordham Diversity and Inclusion Champion
2017 Building Magazine Max Fordham Good Employer Guide - #1 for Engineering

Social events

Having fun is an essential ingredient in happiness in the workplace. We provide an environment where we can be together socially, encouraging connections and developing strong bonds, as well as doing great work!

We love to bring people together. Monthly social gatherings are hosted in each office, and once a year we come together as a whole practice at our annual Summer Party – a full day packed with Partnership business activities, recognition of achievements, social games and activities, and a party in the evening. This gives everyone a chance to meet in person and interact in an informal and relaxed atmosphere.

We even have an award-winning house band, who entertain with performances at our events and have played at industry events such as the AJ Architecture Awards at the Roundhouse! 

A band performing on the stage with special lighting effects

Our band ‘Public M+E’ headlining the AJ Architectural Awards at The Roundhouse in 2018

Team sports and sporting activities are a long-standing feature of life at the practice, with friendly softball and football matches taking place against many of the architects and consultants we work with on projects. Other activities organised by groups in our offices include hiking, climbing, and cycling. We also join charitable sporting activities, such as Cambridge Chariots of Fire and Bristol Stand Up for Safe Water paddle boarding, and environmental sporting activities such as Cycle September.

Regular group lunches and socials are encouraged and financially supported by the practice within and across teams to create unity and a vibrant and enjoyable work environment.