- Office spaces of the past were designed around traditional 9 to 5 workdays. But, that’s an outdated model that doesn’t account for how we work today.
- Unispace designs offices around a business’s objectives — how employees work, how they interface with customers and how to attract and retain talent.
- It all starts by making sure everyone is involved in the decision-making process, from people and culture to technology and sales.
With the turn of the century, the modern office has changed dramatically. The cubicles and frigid office spaces of the 1980s have given way to open concept offices with beer on tap, flexible working hours and countless amenities.
However, when launching these modern office spaces, many organizations fail to consider the ways in which their employees interact, how their customers view them and how to best utilize the space. It’s really about understanding the traits of high performing teams and how you implement those traits into a workplace.
Matt Xavier, a senior associate at Unispace, works on the Workplace Strategy Group. His team works with companies to assess their organizational goals and design physical office environments around those objectives.
Matt joined the podcast to share his top tips to consider before moving offices, how to create the ultimate space for you and your team and how technology has played a crucial role in designing the modern office.
Interview Highlights — Matt Xavier from Unispace
How Unispace designs functional and inspiring offices
The biggest thing Unispace strives for is to understand clients’ objectives. We look at where the client is in terms of its business development. These key objectives help us identify a company’s unique voice. It’s really important to make sure their voice is intrinsic in that space.
When customers come into the space, it should be evident how great the company is. Unispace spends time diving into the customer experience to figure out what areas are worth investing in and how to ensure that customers understand the client’s organization and voice. Out of there comes the right ideas of what you should do that won’t break the bank.
It’s a sort of a bespoke engagement with the client: What has this experience been like when you bring a client here? What are the main takeaways you want them to have when they leave this space? And what we find is that a lot of these things are cultural: the voice, the vibe of the office, and the ways in which employees engage with one another.
Functionality and feel — creating a space that works for everyone
Before moving into a new space, it’s important to consider all facets of the organization. Moving offices is a major undertaking, so it’s crucial that it isn’t simply just the CEO or founder at the table. There needs to be someone from HR or the People and Culture team, someone from technology and someone from finance. All these departments have valuable insight into how your business functions and how it’s represented to the client.
You should think about both functionality and how the space will make your employees feel. You’ll ask the logistical questions, such as how well the connectivity and Wi-Fi work in this space, in addition to considering what the goals of the space are. If it’s to attract and retain talent, we’ll design around that. But if the goal is to make customers feel comfortable and welcome in your space, we’ll create a different type of space for that.
Find those people in your organization who have a pulse on the people, the culture, the organization and its aspirational thoughts. Have them help you come up with a quick list of the things that are important in site selection. This working document can be used as an evaluation metric to determine the right kind of space to choose.
Design around how people actually work
To understand how employees are engaging with their workspace, we conduct a utilization study. We walk around the office every hour on the hour to see who’s at their desk, who’s in a shared workspace, and to determine how employees are using the space.
From there, we can better understand how to design an office best suited to the business’s needs.
Good design is good business. On average, we find a lot of companies simply think, I have a new hire. I need to get a desk for them. The reality is that nowadays we work in such different ways. Not all employees work best in a traditional 9 to5. Some might rather work 3 to10, so it’s about designing a space that will encompass everyone’s work habits.
The customer is always welcome
If you’re in the same city as the people buying your product, it helps to design a space that would be comfortable to your customers. So in this instance, you post on Twitter or Linkedin that you’re hosting open office hours where customers can meet the team and ask any questions they might have about your product.
What’s great about this is it’s a genuinely authentic move that gets your user in front of the developers who can provide live feedback and ask questions in person. Your customers will remember how accessible the space was and potentially consider you for future ventures.
Technology has played a crucial role in helping our customers and partners understand our vision. We can simulate how a space will look in striking detail to give the client a clear understanding of what they’re getting and to explain to subcontractors how to build it properly.
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