All Projects Remain a Work in Progress // With Cate B. Johnson

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Written by Pete Sena,
• 3 min read

Pete Sena: We moved in to our new workspace back in February. Since then, we’ve been iterating; and next month will be “Year One.” We’ve already updated things. For example, we’ve modified the way in which people sit, kind of like customer feedback, but in this case our customer is our employees. We’ve added a meditation room for people to go and retreat a bit. We’ve also add a lot more comfort spaces: we found out we had way too many conference rooms, traditional conference rooms, with a table and chairs (and we always go round table where possible). The most popular conference room, we learned because we are big data-junkies, was actually the most comfortable one, with comfy chairs and a couch. Big surprise, right? (And I’m kidding, of course). But what we learned was that it was the more comfortable spaces, the more alternative spaces from a design perspective that really resonated.

I would love to think nature played a bigger role. What I love about this space is, because of how open it is, people come and go as they please. One of interns today posed me and the creative director one of the nicest statements. She said, “I never expected some of the things I did in this internship to happen.” I asked her to explain that, and she said one of the things that she loved was the space, and the openness, and the access. So back to the idea of transparency and open source, while I still think we can continue to do a better job, I think we are getting closer to unlocking some of those things.

Cate B. Johnson: So I think about this a lot because I helped build and launch the innovation lab at United Way in their headquarters. And it’s a space that’s very different than any other space in United Way. You walk into any other conference room and it’s basically white walls, black table, not even a clock on the wall. No art. But then the innovation lab is colorful, it’s soft. There’s stuff written up everywhere, and there’s imagery. People walk in there and they don’t know what to do.

Pete: Because people aren’t used to that. That doesn’t feel like a typical work space.

Cate: And the people walk out of it and they tell me “Wow, I never could have had that conversation in the other rooms.”

Pete: I love the role that space plays.