Business

Embracing the evolution: Company takes thoughtful, systematic approach to open-office transition

After expanding its geographical footprint and tripling its growth projections, the corporate office of an energy company was running out of room. At the same time, the environment hadn’t kept pace with the company’s evolution, with most of its square footage devoted to dated cubicles, private offices, and large conference rooms. To optimize their space, the company hired an experienced facilities project manager who engaged OfficeWorks to bring their new concept into reality.

Dynamic work environment at an energy company with Herman Miller furniture by Officeworks

Piloting change

The company’s renovation project was an opportunity to embrace their identity while introducing thoughtful collaboration opportunities. Their facilities team thought an open-office environment was the way to go, but some of their colleagues weren’t totally sold on it.

“We started with a space study, bringing in a team through CBRE who studied our space for four weeks,” the project manager said. “We combined their observations with the findings of an employee survey, focus groups, and meetings at all levels to help us understand perspectives and the company’s strategic vision.”

The space study concluded that employees were only using their workstations for about 50 percent of the day.

To confirm that the open-office concept was the way to go, the company started with a pilot project that finished out its 12,000-square-foot basement. Prior to the pilot project, the company had been working with a different furniture dealer but met with OfficeWorks to explore possibilities of partnering.

“For us, it was about finding a partner who listened and offered functional solutions within our price point, versus a furniture company that tried to upsell you their biggest ticket items,” the project manager said. “From the beginning, OfficeWorks was there to help us out.”

After the pilot space was complete, it was time to test it.

“Some companies—if they even do a pilot space—will test it with early adopters who are more likely to embrace it,” the project manager said. “Instead, every division tried out the space and were then surveyed about their experience. In the end, the majority gave us good feedback and the support we needed to move forward with our five-year, five-floor campus renovation.”

In addition to getting buy-in on the open-office concept, “the pilot project allowed us to see how people were using the space and furniture to help inform future phases of the work,” said Camille Inchauste, OfficeWorks’ account executive.

Providing choices

With the new approach to their office layout, the company has revamped and rightsized their workspace. The project manager noted that when you’re changing or taking away assigned workspaces and private offices, it’s important to give back.

“We provided height-adjustable desks, chairs with every ergonomic adjustment you could ask for, and customizable lighting in multiple areas,” she said.

Successful workplaces also offer options for where people work. Before the renovation, employees had two choices—a cubicle or a conference room. Today, they have 12. Some of those spaces include:

  • multiple sizes of formal and informal meeting spaces
  • focus rooms and quiet zones
  • spaces for think tanks and for agile project management meetings
  • social hubs with a coffee shop vibe for informal meetings and team celebrations
  • walk stations with treadmill desks

To embrace the company’s identity, the space incorporates distinctive elements, like furniture from Purposeful Design and custom imagery over a clerestory NEXTWALL feature.

Reaping the benefits

After introducing the new office layout, the company conducted a Herman Miller post-occupancy space study.

“The study proved people were using every space type we had to offer,” the project manager said. “The formula we developed is functioning how we intended.”

As a meeting-intensive organization, the company has noticed an unexpected benefit.

“By opening up the facility and allowing gatherings to happen without having to schedule conference rooms, we’re finding we can take more meetings off our calendars because we’re answering questions more efficiently,” the project manager said. “Our culture has shifted to being more positive about change, and people are thinking differently about how they work and collaborate.”

Reflecting on the experience

“Great customer service is important to us, and that has been an ongoing theme with OfficeWorks,” the project manager said. “OfficeWorks listens, delivers, and provides constant communication—they make us feel like they’re working with us, not for us. We have fun with them, and that’s a big part of the customer experience.”

“The facilities team is great to work with,” Camille said. “They have a vision for their space combined with a keen understanding of what their colleagues want and need, and they’re open to new ideas. Plus, they’re fun, which always makes everything better.”

Project Team

Interior Design: American Structurepoint