The PivotDesk Blog

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PivotDesk Event Q&A: The Future of Work Panel Part 2

Soon after launching Been There, Done That, we heard from many of you that you wanted more — more coaching, more resources more access to the network of entrepreneurs PivotDesk has built.

So, we started to host events aimed at giving you just that…more!

Rather than limit the benefits of these events to attendees only, we’ll be sharing the key insights we covered live, right here on the blog.

Keep an eye out for more PivotDesk event recaps coming soon.

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The Future of Work Panel: Part 2

The modern workforce is evolving quickly — that much we know — so, how does a business build a workspace that is all at once inspiring, fun, and flexible, while also supporting functionality, efficiency, and productivity? This panel discussion explored the failures and successes of office design today.

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This Future of Work event series began with a simple conversation between the founders of Managed by Q, PivotDesk, and KISI — all brands who are leading the movement in making companies more productive and efficient through technology-enabled products and services — and turned into a 3 part series on our changing workforce and the spaces they inhabit.

The first installment of the Future of Work event series kicked off in January, you can read more about it here.

For the second installment of the Future of Work series, we were joined by speakers from SHoP Architects, DigitalOcean, and Floored for a panel discussion moderated by Daria Siegel, Director of LMHQ, at the LMHQ offices.

Q: Does the design of the office space set the stage for the workplace culture, or vice versa?

Dana Getman, Associate Principal at SHoP Architects believes that it starts with culture. “We started to grow from 20, to 60 to 160, so we needed to ask ourselves how we would continue to encourage a collaborative environment while the company was growing so quickly,” she explained. SHoP focused their efforts on spaces and office designs that supported the way in which they wanted to work. They made sure the entire company had great views, shared spaces and private spaces alike.

Dave Eisenberg, Founder and CEO of Floored, agreed with Dana on the fact that culture comes before design. “You will unearth your culture over time, as your business grows, and your space will evolve with the cultural changes,” he stated. Floored tries to have a space where people can lounge and relax in addition to open space to work.

Jessica Aflak Marucci, Director of Employee Experience at DigitalOcean, started with explaining that their brand impacts the design of their space: “Our entire space is simple and functional but flexible.” Because DigitalOcean is a tech company, they have developers that want a quiet area to code, as well as sales people that need to speak loudly on the phone. To accommodate for all personality types, DigitalOcean created one condensed space to be a collaborative environment, in addition to completely silent lockdown rooms.

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Q: What tools should we be thinking about early on in the design stages to encourage a more flexible space?

“Build as few immovable things as possible,” Dave stated simply. At Floored, they make sure to cut back on the money spent on permanent design, because it is almost impossible to predict what the company will need down the road — same goes for office space. Dave pointed out that tech companies are horrible at predicting what their office needs will look like in the future, so using a service such as PivotDesk can be really useful.

Jessica explained the importance of keeping community space for employees to congregate and collaborate. Employees need to have places to build relationships with their team, whether that is the kitchen, open spaces or even ping pong tables. In addition, having access to conference rooms is extremely valuable for teams to meet on projects they are working on. When employees get to work, and do not have access to the proper conference spaces, they are often less motivated to come into the office, and would rather work from home. Having conference rooms readily available to their team, encourages collaboration and open in person communication with team members.

Q: Are we moving away from personal desks?

Jessica explained that she is a firm believer in each person having their own desk space. “If you take away employees’ organizational desk space, they will feel as if the company does not respect them enough to give them their own space,” she stated. Providing personal desks gives employees to the ability to create their own “how away from home” which is important considering the large amount of time people spend in their offices.

On the other hand, Dave explained that he feels that because his employees can set up a workspace anywhere, they are starting to utilize the option of remote working more and more. “More employees prefer the flexibility to work where they are most comfortable whether that be in a coffee shop, park or at home,” he shared. That being said, he thinks a desk solely dedicated to one person who isn’t present in the office most of the time, is unnecessary, and a overall a waste of space.

Dana agreed with Jessica on the fact that employees should be allowed to have their own personal desk, but explained that SHoP also emphasizes the importance of moving around the office. They often change desks after a project is complete to keep the office feeling fresh and flexible.

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Q: What has been the biggest failure in office design in the past, and what do you believe the workplace design for the future is going to be?

Dave kicked this off by stating that “The future of office space is going to be modular,” and as he believes, “every desk will be on wheels.” He feels that this will allow people to be moving around the the office in a collaborative environment all day long.

Jessica explained that one of the biggest failures she has seen in the past is not planning far enough in advance for what your headcount is going to be in the future. If you cannot accurately predict headcount, it will be very hard to have the correct amount of space for your team. She feels that another issue in office design, is lack of communal space. Jessica stated that her company really thrives in environments where they can collaborate, or even just wind down for a bit.

A major issue Dana saw in previous companies, were work spaces with dividers so high, employees could not tell who was around them, or even at their desk at the time. Having cubicles so private that people could not communicate, was extremely detrimental to the workflow of the team.

Overall, The panelists agreed that office design dramatically impacts the way a team works. Therefore, when establishing a culture within the company, it is important to create an office design and layout that supports and enhances that culture.

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