Even before COVID came and changed everything, STUDIOS set out to transform their office in New York City to meet their growing desire for a more flexible, shared workplace. Now, that’s proven to be more important than ever. We worked with STUDIOS to build their vision for a tech-enabled, agile workplace to enable staff to work from anywhere, providing the flexibility they’ve grown accustomed to. Heartwork’s Workbars, configured with lockers and other versatile storage solutions serve as multi-use workstations, facilitating the type of work employees have been missing — collaborative.
Your office redesign happened right in the middle of COVID. How did COVID change how you work as individuals and teams? How did this impact the priorities and design decisions for your office redesign?
With COVID-19 creating fundamental changes to how we live and work, STUDIOS seized the moment to reevaluate how our office supports our new, existing, and future processes in our office renovations already underway. The biggest shift is to a free address system. Moving forward, the workplace environment will have to be more agile—not only responding to individual work styles and settings, but the space itself will need to respond to future pandemics or similar occurrences. STUDIOS saw, pre-COVID, that our New York office was not at maximum capacity during any given day of the week and to truly maximize our real estate we could move to a free address system to free up more square footage for gathering spaces. This more agile environment allows our laptop-based staff to work from anywhere—whether at a sit/stand desk or at any number of open and closed collaboration areas extending the flexible model we’ve all experienced in quarantine into the office environment.
With more collaborative spaces in demand as we return to office, we integrated intuitive tech solutions to support the continued use of Miro, a digital white-board software, and virtual meetings which we see sticking around longer than the pandemic. These digital solutions replicate our drive to be in the trenches and co-create with our clients—enabling us to host live pinups, design charrettes, and post-it visioning sessions with hybrid teams. All solutions for our new New York office were designed with a goal to create a healthy and safe environment and efficient resource for the New York population.
What were your top priorities in terms of storage to support this?
Along with adopting an agile model of working, STUDIOS needed storage solutions which supported individual and project-based storage throughout the office. Lockers were key in providing a designated space for personal items which were previously housed on individual’s desks. We’ve employed a magnet system so that you can choose to move your
locker near your selected seat for that day or to a team huddle area. In addition to personal storage, we also added more project-based storage including open shelving for materials, mockups, and documentation as well as additional work surfaces. This individual storage and project storage is neatly coordinated into our Heartwork Workbars which are dispersed across the office breaking up open workstations and distributing storage to be easily accessible.
What feedback have you gotten from employees?
As we’ve begun our return to office there has been positive feedback about the flexibility that the new office offers. The increase in collaborative and shared spaces supports the reasons why people are coming back into the office--to meet with teams and clients. Touches of hospitality and easy to use technology make the back to work transition more seamless for employees, guests, and clients.
We’re thrilled that you have incorporated the Heartwork Workbars into your office design. What’s your favorite thing about them?
The Heartwork Workbars have allowed us to achieve so much more in the same footprint as our previous collaboration tables. The Workbars combine personal and collective storage with an invaluable standing height work surface. The customization is integral to its success for STUDIOS, combining open shelving for materials and material trays, an open center for large mockups and oversized storage and lockers for personal storage. Additionally, the material customization allowed us to integrate the workbars with the aesthetic of the office environment, but also create variety within the palette by choosing one color within the workspace and another within the library.
STUDIOS has been a champion of meaningful design for 35 years+. How is COVID shaping how you define and solve for meaningful design in the future? Are there any "silver-lining" trends coming out of COVID that could impact the way we live and work in a positive way?
While it’s been proven that we can work from home, there are elements of the physical office that can’t be recreated at home. The office provides opportunities to use specialized equipment, collaborate with colleagues in person or host a client. We’ve also found that in the remote realm with video calls as the norm, affords an equity on screen which we need to find a way to carry forward. These encouraging elements of both remote and in-office working lead to positive conversations around returning to a hybrid office environment.
Your NYC office renovation has received the inspiring Fitwel certification. Bravo! Can you share more about the process and how health and wellness were a central tenet of the design?
Ensuring that the newly renovated STUDIOS New York office is a healthy space for all our employees and guests was paramount to the design. We chose to commit to Fitwel certification and have achieved a two star certification. Working within the research of this standard, we identified what we were already doing well, areas where we could improve, and revisited our office policies to ensure they represented the best practices for the wellbeing of our employees. We are excited to share the results of this work--both visible and invisible--in the new office.
These new or ongoing initiatives include:
- Commitment to low-VOC and healthy materials
- Regular water quality testing
- Continuous Air Quality monitoring
- Access to sit-stand desks and quiet rooms
- Health and Well-being programming in the office
- Bicycle Parking
- Providing AEDs and formalizing Emergency Preparedness Plans
- Identifying and advertising existing neighborhood amenities
These design strategies and protocol in tandem with a more agile working model gives users maximum flexibility and comfort when using the office.
What inspires you as you think of the Future of Work? Where do you think we’ll be in 5, 10, 50 years?
During this tumultuous year, we’ve seen trends which were just gaining traction being pushed forward at a faster pace. And while we remain on the cutting edge of trends and best-practices in the industry, we stay true to providing client-specific solutions--always working with our clients to find the design strategies that are authentic to their mission and goals. STUDIOS invites everyone to the table in the design process and we believe this is the root of project success and the inspiration which drives innovation.
Moving forward we see workspaces which are representative of a company’s mission and what they stand for. Workspaces which look to the best of all industries for inspiration--the best bizarres influence the cafes, the boutique hotels influence lounges, etc--and these unique spaces come together to create a forward thinking agile workspace. The agile workplace will continue to get smarter as the architecture industry embraces AI to make flexible working environments seamless.