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Pophouse previous office space

How Our Designers are Reimagining
Our HQ For Return to Work

Over time, every workspace needs a refresh and for the Pophouse office that time arrived 6 months prior to the pandemic. We were pursuing and designing a new office space in Detroit incorporating team member feedback, evidence-based research, and experimenting with innovative products and a diversity of work settings. We had finalized our designs and were on the road to making it happen and then in March 2020, along with many across the world, we went remote.

Our workspace has now sat empty for over a year except for the occasional trip to pull materials or other onsite activities. As we sit on the precipice of reentry for a small group of our team, it was time to revisit the conversation of what we were doing with our space. While our office is a unique historical space and a wonderful showplace, there were some challenges working there day to day. Our return to the physical office presented an opportunity to rethink our spaces to support our work and make the space functional for all. We decided to focus on how the landscape needed to sustain our team. With a plan to return to the office with a hybrid schedule we considered what the ideal human experience onsite would look like and planned for an environment that nurtures a range of behaviors, connects individuals in positive ways, and emphasizes our culture.

  • Date June 2021
  • Written by Sarah Davis, BI Account Director
  • Topic Design, Strategy
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Surveying the Team

As a team we determined we could make our space more functional with some pivotal adjustments. Our first step was to lean into the team and gather their thoughts to guide us forward in approaching our spatial layout. What came through clearly when reading the survey results was that our team members’ sentiments towards the office had shifted from previous surveys that we had conducted prior to being remote. For instance, the question of whether an individual was willing to go to an unassigned desk demonstrated this swing in sentiment:

Pophouse | Detroit Interior Design Firm

The survey captured the voice of our team ensuring that all were able to provide their perspectives. This has allowed us to frequently refer to this information to guide decision making for the space. We analyzed the responses and then embarked upon space planning to determine what we would be able to keep and what could be reimagined to provide a new and ultimately, more effective use of space.

Pophouse | Detroit Interior Design Firm
Pophouse previous office space

Office Refresh Goals

Once we had the data from the survey compiled, we were ready to establish our goals. This represented our objective for the space, helping us to align around the most significant success criteria for our future office. This will also help us down the line to gather sentiments from the team to validate that the updates made achieve the desired outcomes.

01. Optimize the footprint for the return to the office
• Less dedicated workstations
• More collaborative spaces
• Variety of work settings
• Deploy a new approach to storage

02. Reimagine the technology experience
• Introduce additional kit of parts to enhance onsite amenities
• Improve acoustics throughout the space

03. Establish our office as a showplace and testing ground
• Experiment with different configurations and products
• Curate a space to learn and share

Top Considerations

After we crafted our goals, we were able to start to think through the settings needed in our office. Through programming analysis and space planning iteration there were some considerations that came to the surface right away and became the focus of our updates.

01. Removal of workstations
With everyone previously having a dedicated workstation, this took up the majority of our usable square footage. We made the decision to decrease the number of workstations knowing that individuals would be onsite part-time and be primarily coming into the office to collaborate with teammates. This allowed us to free up critical space within the footprint for other types of programming. This was also in alignment with the information we had gathered with our survey.

02. Increasing collaboration areas
Leveraging that additional space, our decision was to utilize that square footage to create a variety of gathering spaces for our team. We crafted several mid-sized meeting spaces that featured a diversity of setups for maximum flexibility and choice.

03. Integrating technology
Knowing that there will always be video meetings in the future whether it is someone on our team or a client, ensuring that there was the appropriate technology to support communication and provide a functional experience for all has been a significant focus.

04. Addition of team storage
Personal storage became a need while transitioning to non-dedicated workstations. We needed spaces for the team to hang coats, bags, umbrellas, boots, etc. We carved out a space for a mudroom for our team to tuck away extra items they had brought onsite that day.

We began the process to program our space, focusing on maintaining as much as we could while maximizing the overall impact of our adjustments. In addition to the four considerations above, we also wanted to use the office to demonstrate to our clients a spectrum of work settings as well as create a place to test and learn with our team member’s feedback.

Testing & Learning

As a team we identified six elements to test within our new space. These elements represent meaningful levers that we are looking to optimize within the office. Having the opportunity to experiment with these new approaches first-hand will allow us insight we may have not had access to prior. We will then be able to apply this information to do better for our space and the spaces we are designing for our clients.

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Pophouse Office | Testing Elements

Paired with each of these elements was specific feedback that we had received via our survey to give context to the challenges that individuals were experiencing. We then derived a plan to address these challenges with a specific approach that we can measure back to. For example, under the lighting category, there was a significant amount of sentiment regarding the light levels being too low and needing more natural daylight–a somewhat impossible thing to accomplish in a basement of a historic building. Our testing plan was to perform facility lighting adjustments across the basement to determine which areas were not working adequately. We also plan to introduce BrainLit—a biocentric lighting solution based on circadian rhythm—into the workspace.

Looking Forward

This is just the beginning of the process to reimagine our office. The Pophouse team is looking forward to our new space as we begin a hybrid schedule with team members regularly onsite. As we continue our journey, look for additional posts on social media to highlight our progress. We look forward to revealing images when we have evolved the office and sharing the insights we have gained along the way.

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