Global Consulting Firm
As a global professional services firm, this client clearly understood the importance of engagement among its employees. Recognizing that its downtown Chicago office was underutilized, it set out to better understand the needs of its highly mobile workforce and create an environment that would more effectively serve them. Notably, the project began a year before the COVID-19 pandemic would affect workplaces around the world.
The renewed workplace transforms a dated interior into an inclusive and inspirational space that draws its staff together. The “living design” prioritizes the firm’s values of wellness and equality, providing a diverse and equitable array of workspaces and collaborative areas in a pleasing, light-filled space with remarkable city views.
To more precisely identify the client’s challenges and goals, the design team conducted an extensive discovery process. They held three workshops to gather information from company leadership and staff, developed a staff-wide survey that received a 76-percent response, and performed a week-long space utilization study. Through careful listening and consistent communication, the team was able to pinpoint a strategy for a more compelling office environment that reflects the staff’s shared values and culture.
Key to the transformation was removing a maze of cubicles and private offices that had cast much of the office space in darkness and obscured visibility across teams. Taking advantage of full-height glass on the building perimeter, daylight now flows deep into the entire workspace, promoting holistic wellness and enabling everyone to enjoy the benefits of natural light and views. Natural materials like stone and wood, along with live plants and neutral tones, further serve to bring the outdoors in and promote a sense of calm.
The new design adeptly addresses the firm’s desire for more diversity and choice in workspaces. The renovated workplace offers a variety of equitable work settings for both solo and group work, such as focus spaces, solo alcoves, huddle rooms, neighborhood perches, and a community den. Workstations promote healthy habits with sit-to-stand desks. A central stair between the 18th and 19th floors creates a hub for interaction, connecting inclusive gathering spaces like the coffee bar, café, library, and conference room.
The renovation-in-place occurred during the pandemic. When the office reopened, the transformation was an immediate success, boosting occupancy and increasing satisfaction among its current team. The firm now plans to employ this design strategy in its other locations, expanding the benefits to more of its staff and helping to attract the next generation of top-notch team members.