When our advertising firm — Lindsay, Stone & Briggs (LSB) — designed its new office space in Madison, WI, we did so based on the belief that yesterday’s office space simply does not work for today’s dynamic business environment.
So when we decided to design an ideal workspace from scratch, we partnered with architects and designers to create a space focused on fostering creativity and collaboration.
Today, our open-concept space allows for spontaneous collaboration as a natural part of the work process as opposed to something that is scheduled in meetings.
With employees able to talk and run ideas by each other throughout the day, they are able to be more creative and innovative in all work. Some ideas even come from employees on different projects that are able to overhear discussion from nearby working groups. This way our work is truly inspired by each other.
This type of interaction is what is needed to operate at the speed of reality – because that is the speed that is required to succeed today.
While we certainly haven’t done away with meetings entirely, we find more of the work in this new atmosphere happens in small groups, typically standing up at one of the offices’ walls.
Permanent floor-to-ceiling magnetic dry-erase boards line interior walls. Employees pin articles and other work to these walls, asking everyone for feedback. Other days the walls serve as a brainstorming list for projects. Sometimes they’ll even feature a message on creativity or innovation from others in the office. During March, one wall even featured a March Madness bracket.
In addition to being inspired by each other and our space, we are also inspired by Madison itself. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows offer inspiring views of Wisconsin’s Capitol building and nearby lake, allowing employees to be energized by the creative energy the city offers. Interior rooms all feature at least one glass wall, so this view is always available.
In addition to closed meeting rooms, our office features several meeting tables along the windows. Larger tables are lined with couches and chairs, and smaller ones are topped with pads of paper for easy note taking.
The first feature guests notice is a large centralized cafe, complete with gleaming stainless steel appliances, large maple cabinets, and several connected tables. This makes lunch here feel like a happy hour, where people can come together and discuss work and life.
The cafe is also used for brainstorming sessions. With no closed-in conference room, employees feel less constricted by the pressure to only bring up “good ideas” sometimes associated with a traditional office. Because the space is open, inviting, and neutral, employees enjoy meeting with one another.
Meetings have adopted a more inspiring tone, which allows us freedom to brainstorm and imagine ideas in a more relaxed environment.
Our two main conference rooms each serve a different purpose.
The Theater, large enough to seat the entire staff, contains a long table and state of the art projection screens with hookups for computers. Employees gather here for larger meetings, brainstorming sessions, and webinars.
The room also features a large permanent dry-erase board where ideas can be shared and developed. The sliding door on one side of the room offers some privacy from the noise in the kitchen, while the glass windows along the back ensure that people can glance out of the room to view the majestic Capitol across the square.
The smaller MediaScape seats about six employees at a square table with no head, and it features a television for projecting computer screens. Interviews, meetings, and conference calls in MediaScape feel more like an opportunity to share and collaborate than they do a traditional meeting with one leader.
Although this room is small, the glass doors across the back invite natural light into the room and make it seem larger.
For moments when true privacy is required, the new office has two small offices with phones and tables. These offices cannot be reserved, and are usually in use for only a few minutes at a time.
Our dynamic workspace — coupled with agile employees — sparks uniquely creative ideas. The collaborative culture of space means better work for clients, as well as a staff that never has to think alone again.
- Images by Mike Rebholz