After spending the first three days of the week in our firm’s New York office where I am based, today I’m heading to Madison, New Jersey where our firm recently opened a new office. In addition to New York and New Jersey, my firm has offices in Los Angeles, London, and Shanghai. My Strategy & Discovery team works globally across multiple projects. Earlier in the summer I was flying back and forth to the San Francisco Bay Area to work on a project in collaboration with our Los Angeles team. Also this summer, some members of our London team came to New York to work with us on a project with a client where work was being done on sites in London and in New York. This fall, I have been spending my time closer to home and working on projects in New York and New Jersey. So today, I am working with the New Jersey design team on a project that is located nearby. Like some of the others who have contributed to this blog, I too have done my share of 6:00am flights. So for now, I’m enjoying the time closer to home.
One of the major elements of this workplace design project is for the client’s new space to express their brand so that employees and visitors experience some of the same touch points experienced by customers. Several years ago (before I joined), our firm worked with a major airline – designing their headquarters space. An interesting aspect of this project was that there were several design elements throughout the space that mimicked the travel experience. For example, walking into the lobby makes employees and visitors feel like they’re approaching a service counter – seeing flight information, a check-in kiosk, and other service touch points.
Brand expression and service design are increasingly common attributes that are being incorporated into workplace design. Since every client is unique, branding and service are elements that are uniquely expressed in every design. Universities are no strangers to this trend. Spend time at any major university today, and you will see how schools are rethinking their student service centers, libraries, and other learning environments in ways that enhance the bigger educational experience to support learning outcomes. Companies are doing similar things to heighten worker engagement and satisfaction.
We are sitting down to sketch out the agenda for an upcoming workshop where the Strategy and Discovery team will be facilitating a session to explore how this particular client’s space will express their brand. This workshop will involve certain members from the local New Jersey design team, which is why it makes sense for us to meet in New Jersey.
Our New Jersey office is a brand new space that we designed from scratch. The space itself employs several design characteristics that are increasingly common across many of today’s most innovative workplaces. There are big windows that let the natural light flood the space throughout the day. We have a very open space with big benching tables where team members sit. Depending on what people are doing, there is a variety of other seating areas to support people working together and spreading out materials to review. There is also enclosed quiet space that is useful when someone needs to focus or if a group needs to jump on a conference call without disturbing others. Our New York space is designed in a similar way, but it is on a larger scale. Our New York office sits in a historic late 19th century building near Union Square that was once a department store. Both sites are designed to be very collaborative.
Architects are very hands-on – often sketching or writing ideas on post-it notes that get arranged on whiteboard or some other surface. Overall, this makes planning a workshop a very active experience, which is important because we try to facilitate a very active workshop experience for our clients. We practice what we preach.