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Breaking Up With Court Street: Realizing Our Office Space Hindered Collaboration

By Todd Ballowe

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Breaking Up With Court Street: Realizing Our Office Space Hindered Collaboration

We’ve called 465 Court Street home since the beginning. Its old Reno charm, warm brick exterior, prime location, and amazing views of the flowing Truckee River have long warmed the hearts of those who work here. But sometimes a great relationship ends for a reason – we’re sad to see Court Street go, but it is time for something new, exciting, and, quite frankly, better.

A common problem we hear from clients is how teams operate in contained silos and workflows, compartmentalizing their work and functioning as many small teams instead of one aligned organization.  As we looked around our own organizational culture, our team wasn’t necessarily operating in silos, but there was certainly opportunity to create more alignment and consistency in the way we work together. The barrier to achieving it? A work space that literally compartmentalized our organization.

Breaking Up with Court Street

Court Street has accommodated our growing company for over a decade, but the small compartmentalized offices and lack of collaboration space started to wear on our team. We began to ask, “what if,” and say, “wouldn’t it be nice,” about how our team might work better together in a space designed to meet our needs.

In our line of work, communication and collaboration isn’t just a nicety, it’s a necessity—table stakes in creating the strategies that impact the businesses and success of our clients. The need for a more collaborative space was the driver in our breakup with Court Street and the start of creating the space we now call home.

A Strategic Approach to Developing our Workspace

It just wouldn’t be OnStrategy if we didn’t take a strategic approach to creating the best workspace possible. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we followed an approach similar to the one we use with clients every day. Here’s the process we followed:

Assess – Where are we today? Where do we want to work tomorrow?

The first step was understanding our workspace as it was, what we loved, what we hated, and what we didn’t even know was possible until we examined it. We started by asking our team these questions, having everyone think about what their ideal workspace might look like, and then collecting and analyzing those responses.

To no one’s surprise, a common theme was the love of location. Being a part of downtown Reno’s core, lunching at walkable restaurants, and grabbing a coffee from the local barista topped our organization’s love of Court Street. It’s become engrained in our culture and one of the reasons we all love working here.

Also unsurprising: the entire team cited Court Street’s shortcomings as small, awkward offices, a lack of small-group meeting space, and a huge need for more whiteboards and collaboration space. These pain points created the driving force for the design of our new space.

Design – Finding and designing a space to meet our needs.

OnStrategy’s new home wasn’t found and created out of luck. It was a concerted, thoughtful effort rooted in the desire to build an environment for thinking, collaboration, and creation without losing the culture OnStrategy’s worked so hard to build.

We landed at 527 Lander Street, only a few blocks from our previous home. But Lander today is a far cry from the space 18 months ago. Originally built in the early 19th century, the building underwent two subsequent additions, which left the building feeling unintentional and downright confusing. But, the location. It’s the one thing you can never change about a building. And, oh, is the location amazing.

So, we leveraged local talent skilled in the ways of design, architecture, workspaces, and interiors to help us draw up the plans for our new home that met our wish list for a more collaborative and strategic workspace.

Build – Construction. So much construction.

Demolition. Permits. Foundation. Permits. Structural work. You name it, we did it. It was an 18-month process to mine, cut, and polish this rough diamond into something we’re all so excited to work in. It’s always amazing to see how detailed the construction process is and we have a new level of appreciation for skilled project managers. The devil is in the details, and there were so many. A huge shout out to Tom, the world’s best “problem-solving” superintendent, and Ryan, our internal “Lander” project owner, for digging in and getting it done.

We’ve officially moved into our new space. And while the construction crew is still wrapping up the finishing touches, we’re already enjoying the light, bright and super collaborative space we occupy.

Manage – Moving the team and shifting the culture.

The big elephant in the room you’re all probably asking – how is the move going to impact culture? We would be lying if the shift from working in offices to working in an open, collaborative space wasn’t going to affect us, our culture and how we work.

The shared vision of our team was to create an environment to collaborate – and we’ve done just that. But with that shared vision also comes an expected change in behavior and a heightened sense of awareness for how we work together and how we interact. Shared working spaces are great, but come with distractions. It’s been a process to prepare our team for the change and there will be hurdles along the way. But we have been deliberate, communicative and clear about what’s changing for how we work and the ultimate benefits of this change, which have made the transition so far pretty smooth. And the OnStrategy team has embraced the changed, respected and followed some of our new rules of the game and are already seeing how the team is working better, just days into the big move.

Welcome to 527 Lander Street

We’re still in the midst of touching up paint, finishing out furniture build outs, and installing the final fixtures, but here’s a sneak preview of Lander, our new home. Excuse our dust, mess, and ladders while we get settled:


Todd Ballowe

Originally from Illinois, Todd has made his home in Reno, NV since 1997. Currently, he is the Senior Front-End Web Developer for OnStrategy. Todd attended the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Ingrid
    Apr 01, 2019 @ 06:46:08

    I’d like to hear more about the learning process and how you decided to apply the team feedback.

    Reply

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