There’s nothing like the thrill of watching a client walk into his office space for the very first time. When leading worldwide job site Indeed opened the doors to its freshly designed headquarters in Austin, Texas, the excitement was palpable. Mouths gaping, heads turning, smiles spreading, fingers pointing, squeals of delight—and, yes, even cartwheels!—were part of that first walkthrough, as employees became acquainted with their new digs.
It was, of course, gratifying. But for us, that first walkthrough is the beginning—not the end.
Our client relationships live on post-occupancy through a series of regularly scheduled evaluations that is a frequent part of our design work. We check in with clients after the move-in to assess how the space we’ve designed is working for their needs and what adjustments need to be made along the way. In addition to helping the individual client, these evaluations provide invaluable insight into how industry trends play out.
First, we analyze data by the sector and size of the firm; for instance, if it is a venture capital-funded startup with 10,000 square feet or an exploding, rapidly growing company with a 100,000-square-foot collaborative space, or an older law firm that values individual offices over open space. Then we look again in three months, six months, one year and three years. The concept is something I call “closeout 2.0.”
With detailed, scaled evaluations in hand, we can look at how the office enhances the strategic mission, work style and technical performance of a company and its staff, as well as how that space helps attract and retain employees, tell a firm’s brand story and contribute to employee satisfaction.
Who weighs in on a space’s success when we do our self-evaluation?
Our focus groups consist of directors and facilitators of workplace strategy, department heads, management and a sampling of key personnel from different departments and varied demographics.
The value of this research is enormous. Our client benefits, and so do we. These audits confirm hunches and allow us to tweak ideas and engage our clients.
For example, we’ll examine eight evaluations for eight technology clients to see if there’s a consistent pattern regarding design trends and how employees work…or not. The information then serves as benchmarking, providing not only numbers, facts and figures but also other feedback that guides our design programming and advice to future clients.
Another thing we keep in mind is that new concepts often take time to be absorbed and accepted. Checking in again in six months or a year later lets us know if team members are acclimating to a change or if a company might be wise to make a shift or two. Do employees need additional training? Can adding candy to the pantry increase happiness? Should that flex space be turned into a phone room? Are workstations working? Time will tell, but with a plan in place to check up on our clients and listen to them, we’ll get to those answers, together.