Medical Knowledge Group
A Virtual-First Workplace
Spectorgroup and client, MKG, explain how a virtual-first workplace model harnesses the power of a strong company culture, increases value, and improves employee retention.
The abrupt shift to working from home in March 2020 led many companies and employees to wonder whether the move could or should be permanent. Some of our clients are leaning into a function-first work model, prioritizing specific job tasks when deciding how many staff will return to the office full or part-time. For others, getting everyone back in the office and collaborating in person again is taking precedence, opting for a culture-first model. And for still others, like our client Medical Knowledge Group (MKG), a virtual-first approach makes the most sense.
Our design team developed three workplace models in response to the various types of companies we serve and the markedly different needs of their employees—function-first, culture-first, and virtual-first. In the virtual-first model, we see the workplace as brand center for collaboration and client servicing. The home office is where the majority of individual work takes place, but employees can plug in at a physical office hub when necessary. The space has multiple areas for collaboration, from small gathering nooks to large meeting rooms, as well as flexible brainstorming and ideation spaces. The setting does not cater to individual work, although phone booths and some single-person workstations provide focus areas for use in between meetings. This model makes the office a place dedicated to sharing information—people can share their work with each other and with clients in a central, open forum with smart technology, or in a more informal presentation alcove. The physical space enhances the virtual experience while supporting in-person socialization and maintaining a sense of organizational community.
MKG determined how their employees worked best, so the leadership team knew that location was more important than size. We were then brought on to design the new space after MKG decided to be virtual first. Ultimately, the growing company decided to consolidate two locations with 200+ employees into a single office with just 18 seats, set in a prime location at One World Trade Center in New York City. The CEO, Leon Behar, maintains a permanent office at the location. The rest of the staff is given full flexibility to work from home. This decision allows the company to maintain a headquarters in a highly desirable location and keep overhead costs down.
Leon Behar says, “We knew that we could spend more money on rent per square foot if we worked with a smaller footprint. Now we’re in a premiere building, on a premiere floor with premiere views. It’s a space that’s designed for collaboration and growing our business.”
On a day-to-day basis, technology takes center stage, both in the office and at home.
Multiple cameras in meeting rooms, the latest teleconferencing software and pin-up spaces connect people across the company, no matter where they are.
Designing the Physical to Complement the Virtual
From the beginning, it was clear that the design could not be a typical corporate office. The concept makes people feel that they have been transported to a different place when they step off the elevator on the 84th floor. The entrance is welcoming and multi-directional—an open lounge with an adjacent hospitality bar instead of a formal reception area.
The materials are light, airy, and textural, drawing even more attention to the incredible views of the city. The light woods, soft whites and grays are punctuated by MKG’s red.
The softer elements are carried through to the collaboration spaces and workstations as well. Employees can work from a couch, at a collaboration table or one of the workstations, which are inspired by libraries instead of a standard corporate set-up. Meeting rooms are designed to optimize collaboration and smaller phone rooms provide privacy for employees and visiting clients. Rooms can be reconfigured to accommodate larger events and meetings, making it a completely flexible space in every sense.