Growing the Open Office Culture
We recently repurposed and customized warehouse space in downtown Tacoma as SiteCrafting's new, expanded headquarters. If you've been following #thenewsitecrafting on our social media, you've seen our progress over the last 9 months.
We were very fortunate to partner with local companies on this project. Westroad Investments, Sprague Pest Solutions, BiNW, BCRA and Superior Builders all came together to help us figure out how to get the most out of an empty warehouse.
SiteCrating lead the charge on envisioning the potential for this space by answering this simple question:
What have we always wanted?
It turns out, we simply wanted to build on what was already working for us.
The Open Office
SiteCrafting has had an open office environment since we opened our doors more than 15 years ago. The original purpose for the open office was to foster collaboration and that desire still holds true today. We continue to focus on face-to-face communication through an environment that allows not only planned, but also impromptu collaboration without invading others' work environments.
We also need the space to allow us to cater to a diverse workforce. We are very fortunate to have a team made up of individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds, communication styles, and work modes. We have historically been able to provide a culture and environment that is both positive and productive. We needed our new space to maintain and even improve the already established culture and workflow.
Finally, we need to continue a culture of support for a healthy work-life balance. We have been steadily building momentum on our commitment to 40 hour work weeks, flexible schedules, useful benefits, as well as wellness opportunities over the years. In this day and age, it's easy to find studies showing how this affects employee satisfaction, which in turn impacts the overall performance of our business. The new space needed to showcase our commitment to these values and allow us to do even more for our team.
How did we do it?
BCRA provided us with great architectural designs to get the conversation going, and prompted us to think specifically about the hard barriers we truly needed to build in the new space. We opted to keep them minimal and focus on understanding how each teammate needed to work in the new space.
We collaborated with BiNW in reviewing the diversity in responsibilities, as well as work and communication styles, and determined we needed to provide a variety of areas for getting work done:
Workstations designed to keep noise levels low, and equipped with noise-cancelling headphones to minimize noise distractions
Four conference rooms to be used for formal and casual meetings, or quiet work spaces when needed
A community table with standing workspaces and a place for group work
Collaboration hubs situated around teams and workspaces for brainstorming or informal training
A mezzanine that provides a quieter space for work and meetings off the main floor
BiNW guided us toward a furniture set by local business manufacturer (and SiteCrafting client) Watson Furniture.
Our focus on wellness prompted us to do the following:
Designate space for a shower room
Develop plans to install secure bike racks with fencing and video surveillance
Leadership commitment to purchase fleet bikes for employees to use for short trips around downtown Tacoma
This pairs nicely with on-going commitment by SiteCrafting leadership to focus on organizing participation in fitness events like Sound to Narrows, and creating our own fitness initiatives like weekly kayak outings and bike commuting events.
We're committed to maintaining a top-down focus on our new office space being an enabler of good camaraderie, collaboration and productivity, but it's important that we don't lean too heavily on this physical space doing all the work for us.
As with many plans, they don't always turn out the way we intend. In preparation for that, we set up the team to expect a 90 day adjustment period where we would quickly assess needs and take action when necessary.
On-going, we intend to keep observing, asking for feedback, and researching best practices for workspaces like ours. Keep an eye out for follow-ups on this article in a few months to report on what we've adjusted as part of our transition to this new space.
Around the Office, Deep Thoughts