Encased in sleek, panelled glass, it's the kind of shiny exterior more often associated with impersonal property developments than boutique hotels — but Bankside, opening in London SE1 in October 2018, is determined to a place people, craftsmanship and the community at its heart.

Next to the towering One Blackfriars skyscraper, this member of the Autograph Collection is not looking to be a London’s most sustainable hotel, yet Bankside, operated by the hoteliers behind St Ermin's in St James, is still working towards having a positive impact — from its roof adorned with solar panels and the innovative salad-growing techniques to its connecting with vibrant local businesses.

In our role as storytelling and sustainability consultants, Bouteco has been helping Bankside on this journey by recommending local partners, charitable initiatives, responsible recruitment strategies and sustainable operations. Watch above, the first in a series of short films shot by Kuba Nowak, celebrating the outcomes of this partnership, demonstrating Bankside’s commitment to getting the right people on board, their focus on fostering a healthy working environment and cultivation to a sense of team. After all, it’s the people behind the scenes that make the magic happen.

 #WhereYouBelong — Bouteco created this slogan to stand for the hotel's philosophy both internally, and in terms of encouraging all to feel at home at the hotel.

“We’re building an amazing brand, and the team that is going to join us will be building the brand with us. You’ll have no layers, no hierarchy. It’s one team, one goal, and one happy workplace. My philosophy for recruitment? Look for talent, look for passion, look for the right attitude because everything else can be trained.” — Ashwini Lakshman, Director of People and Resources.

Bankside not only wants to attract the right employees, but it’s also exploring responsible recruitment partnerships — working with organisations that give jobs to those that need them most whether ex-convicts, victims of drug misuse, homelessness, or marginalised people living in the local area. Loyal and committed employees are what make a hotel tick, and none come more loyal than those that have been given a much-needed leg-up or chance of a lifetime.

It’s not only the employees and hotel that benefits from this approach; guests are more likely to remember authentic interactions with people from the local area than a hotel service culture that could be anywhere in the world. Ashwini Lakshman, Bankside’s Director of People and Resources, knows this better than most.

“Our aim at Bankside is for the hotel to be a genuine reflection of the local area and to do that we need to support the local community by providing opportunities… I also think we need to move beyond ‘hiring for experience’ to ‘hiring for the right attitude’ – after all, millennials want to work for employers committed to socially driven ethics and values.” — Ashwini Lakshman

It helps that Bankside, slap, bang in the middle of London’s ever-evolving South Bank, is surrounded by organisations looking for ways to get disadvantaged people into work. One of these is The Clink, which trains ex-prisoners (more than 300 in 2017) in catering to work in the Clink’s Brixton restaurant or send elsewhere — including some top London hotels. Another is Women Returners, which supports women that have been long-term unemployed back into the workplace. By working directly with homelessness charity, Crisis, Women Returners can target those that need mentoring and skill-refresher courses to get them back on track. Bankside also hopes to target older local people that are struggling to find employment by working with the Waterloo Job Shop.

With this ethos in mind, Bouteco worked with SE1 social enterprise Iconic Steps to support the making of the first Bankside film. Taking otherwise disadvantaged young people and training them in film, editing and photography services, Iconic Steps delivers productions to clients including ExCel London, Merlin Entertainments and BFI Film, while getting recruits onto a steady career path. Iconic Steps’ production assistant, Moona, went above and beyond for this project as a runner, and there is no doubt that the project benefitted from having her on board.

With this circle of support surrounding the project, and an eagerness to find positive ways to get the job done, Bankside already feels like it’s generating a 'people first' culture. As the dust settles moving closer to October, we hope that those glass panels will shine a light on everything Bankside hopes to champion — the best of SE1’s art, people, independent businesses and community.