Working as a team is an important part of almost any job. But when that job is designing the next workplace for your entire company, working as a team isn’t just imperative – it’s the project brief. Designing our new office is giving us the opportunity to live our methodology, getting to know the aspirations and pain points of every single person at Oktra. But how do you organise the input of 170 different creative professionals?
This is how we got every member of our teams involved in our office move:
Seeing is believing, and that’s exactly why we visited the new office site. By getting everyone in the new space and experiencing it together, we were able to get a collective first impression of the raw materials for our new office layout. The current Cat A space will be unrecognisable once our design and build teams are finished with it, but the opportunity to walk through the space before it’s transformed makes envisioning our future office easier.
Maintaining team engagement is simpler when everyone has a tangible reference point for the upcoming move. We set up survey questions throughout the space, encouraging our teams to explore all three floors, while engaging in real-time data collection and sharing. Each team member was given a piece of paper to mark where they’d like their future desk to sit, turning the empty floors into an interactive floorplan.
We interviewed several of our Managing Directors, our Strategic Operations Director, our Group Business Development Director, one of our Project Directors and our Head of Marketing, to get a feel for what different teams need to continue succeeding. We learned that some teams want private meeting areas while others think quiet work zones would hinder their performance. We learned that many teams would benefit from informal meeting spaces for 4-5 people, and we learned that we need a designated space for clients in our next office.
We learned a lot more than that too, and we got there by asking questions about team structure, culture, working environment and facilities, and networking.
Each workshop presented an opportunity for over 30 people to design space plans for the new office and complete mind maps for workplace positives, negatives and wishes. We held 4 workshops over the course of the Listen phase of our move, opening the sessions to anyone who wished to attend.
Similar to the site visit, the physicality of the workshops allowed for more illustrative brainstorming and team problem solving. Our teams used printed floorplans of the new space and movable cut-outs of each kind of office space to construct different space plans for the new office, reasoning through placement of everything from teams to teapoints.
Simple but effective: employees emailed their thoughts to a designated office move address. We created an account titled New Office for employees to email suggestions, inspiration or comments to. The result? An inbox full of videos, photos, sketches and descriptions of what people wanted in their next workplace.
We turned a private phone booth into a diary room where employees could log video entries detailing suggestions for the new office and thoughts about our current one. The confessional-style video booth fed everyone’s excitement about the move, but it also provided an outlet for unfiltered ideas that allowed for more animated expression than written data. This form of feedback is especially beneficial for those who may feel that articulating their thought process through writing is challenging or inaccurate.
Occupancy studies are a great way to gather information about the use of your current workspace. By monitoring which spaces are used, how they’re used and at what time of day, you can begin to see potential space optimisation opportunities. We logged occupancy data manually over the course of a week, compiling the results in colour-coded visuals.
The visuals made our reason for moving exceedingly clear – apart from the time we leave the office to go home, our space is only under workspace capacity 4.65% of the time. The rest of the day is spent at or above capacity.
Our online survey made it possible for every single employee to weigh-in on the design of our new office. Even those who weren’t in our London office for the workshops or interviews, could complete the survey and submit their observations regarding the current space and how they thought it should change.
The survey revealed a lot about our teams and the way we use space to work. To start with, we’re growing incredibly quickly – 63% of us have joined in the last two years. 63.6% of us identify as ambiverts, meaning we have both extrovert and introvert personality traits, and underlining the necessity of a mix of different types of spaces within the new office. The first word we use to describe our office culture is ‘friendly,’ followed by ‘fun’ and ‘open’ respectively.
When asked what facilities our teams need in the new office, the most anticipated facility was desks, with 88.2% of us agreeing that desks were important – the majority ranking them as extremely important. A lack of phone booths appeared to be the most commonly shared complaint for our current office, with 70.65% of employees stating they were either unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with current resources.
After closing the Listening stage of our office move, we complied the resulting data in a workplace report. The document gives an overview of Oktra’s aspirations for the new space and frustrations with our current setup. The booklet is a summary of the Listening stage and allows anyone to review responses and analyse our own workplace statistics. With graphic representations of data from bar graphs and pie charts, to heat maps, the workplace report presents a month’s worth of feedback from 170 people in a readily accessible way.
We finished the Listen phase of the move in September, and have moved on to our Design phase with a solid understanding of the collective requirements for our next space. Just like client engagement is a crucial part of great fit out projects, employee engagement is necessary for a successful office move. The more involved teams are in the move, the better the new workspace will reflect their needs and support their ways of working.