by Sinead O’Connor and Alexis McNutt Unis
After months of planning, brightspot’s vision for our new office has come together. We applied the same process we use with clients—understanding, visioning, planning, prototyping, and implementing—to envision and plan for our future home. All 17 of us brightspotters were able to participate, a great opportunity for everyone to try new tools and gain hands-on understanding of the research-based, participatory process that makes brightspot special.
A series of facilitated activities and discussions, with the help of interior designer Irina Sai and architect Martin Hopp, yielded perspective on the workplace needs and wants of individual brightspotters and teams. First we used “visioning cards” and a “keep-toss-create” activity to determine our current state and a more ideal future state.We also completed an online survey to gauge satisfaction with our current office. Results showed that brightspotters are losing too much time to distractions, and our WeWork space supports teamwork better than individual work. We took input from all of these activities to create a space program. From all this, we envisioned our new office as a kind of “home” – a comfortable retreat that expresses who we are and how we work and provides a variety of atmospheres and spaces to support a diverse range of activities and workstyles.
Next we wanted to gain consensus on how to translate our vision into a layout, furniture, and finishes. First we agreed upon the following guiding principles for decision-making:
- Buzz without distraction
- Organic but structured
- Expression of who brightspot is
- Multiplicity for work styles and tasks
- Clustered but not cramped
- Green, alive, growing
Then we participated in two exercises — “look & feel” and “floorplay.” The look & feel exercise allowed us to vote on spaces and styles using Post-its.
Bright green Post-its meant yes, we want more of this; pink Post-its signified no, that’s not our style. Not every image was met with consensus. We discussed each, especially those with mixed responses, to elaborate on what we liked about the image and what we didn’t.
Next we split into two groups for the floorplay activity. Each group used half an hour, an empty floor plan, and lots of furniture-shaped bits of paper to come up with a layout for the new office. When 30 minutes were up, the two groups presented their plans. We then came together to form a hybrid of the features from each plan that we liked best.
After gathering results from each activity—and keeping in mind our “home” concept—we arrived at a plan for a comfortable and functional workspace that allows for diverse work styles and project needs. We drew parallels between the kinds of spaces you find in a typical home and the functions those spaces could have in an office:
porch= where we welcome visitors and relax ourselves;
kitchen= a place for meals, informal conversation, and full-team meetings;
study= a place for quiet, individual heads-down work;
yard= (in true brightspot fashion) where we work on projects.
Planning our office also meant taking the time to be thoughtful about the individual needs that arise during the workday. With three new parents, a team of consultants who regularly travel, and every one of us experiencing the daily stressors of living and working in a 21st century city, it quickly became clear that we wanted to devote a space to wellness. Through our workshops and discussions, we conceived of a wellness room, a quiet space where we can take care of ourselves with a quick power nap or a few minutes of meditation; and a private space where new mothers can pump. The purpose of the room is to allow us to relax and rejuvenate, so we fittingly named it the “nest.”
After finalizing the layout, we participated in an interior design session to bring more focus to the idea of “home”—what kind of home, exactly? What might this mean for the different atmospheres we want to create, for the furniture we select, for the finishes we use? We considered three design schemes—”loft,” “cabin,” and “haus”—each of which had merits and drawbacks. Ultimately we felt that the cabin concept, specifically a Nordic one, with the descriptors “organic, alive, exploratory, warm, eclectic, soft, and cozy,” best represented a comfortable place that would express who we are and nurture how we work.
Next we prototyped and tested different types of desks and “project boards,” new tools that will promote collaboration and provide physical parking places for our work in progress. We considered different sizes, materials and sizes before making specific selections.
While the office is being built out and once we move in, we will also create new office norms. The team has grown; our dynamics are different; our space will change. What better time to redefine the norms that will help us shine?
Finding the right balance between home and office will be important. Our new site needs to remain a professional space but also one that welcomes us back each time we return from the road. We’re looking forward to implementing our program in just a few weeks. Be sure to check out #brightspothome on Instagram and Twitter to follow our progress!