Picture of an industrial-style office with a man sitting at a high table with stools, working on his laptop. In the foreground, you can see a movable whiteboard and a monstera plant.
Our new office: a hybrid collaboration hub. Image taken by the author

The Future of Work

How we designed our London office to be a collaboration hub that supports our hybrid way of working

Useful tools and lessons learned from designing the office of the future for our team and customers in an evidence-based way

Do we even need an office?

We redesigned our largest offices in Europe, London and Paris to serve as collaboration hubs for our team and our clients.

Can we keep on using our offices from before the pandemic?

We used surveys, interviews, workshops as well as historic engagement data to identify how much space we needed and how to best design our new collaboration hubs.

Our budget

Program structure: a dedicated office working group

What we achieved: a hybrid collaboration hub

Our new office: a hybrid collaboration hub. Images taken by the author

Key spaces

How did we get there?

1. Interviews with our team

A screenshot of a Miro board with lots of sticky notes in affinity groups
Synthesis of the team interviews

2. Team workshop — hybrid working needs

A screenshot of an empty  Miro board workshop template
Team workshop to understand hybrid working needs

3. Model past and future engagement data

4. Interviews with our clients

💡 Key insights from our clients

5. Design the actual office space

A screenshot of a Miro board with several frames, containing: photos of the office space, a plan of the office, inspiration for the look and feel and a feedback section.
“Design Studio” workshop to design the office space

Prompt:

6. Synthesising our ideas into a plan

A detailed office plan that shows how the new furniture should be arranged.
Synthesis of our design ideas into an actual plan

Fast feedback loops: improve for neurodiverse people

Translating the plan into more tangible recommendations

A collage of several pictures to transport the mood of working at VMware Tanzu Labs. People workshopping, drawing out ideas, writing code in pair programming style, having a 1:1 conversation and playing pingpong.ping-pong
“What Labs feels like”, image sources: the VMware Tanzu Labs website, the dedicated London office website, the VMware brand asset pool and the author

Example: Kitchen — reflective of London Old Street culture

Moodboard for the kitchen area, images from unsplash

Example: Open plan, customisable team space

A collage of several pictures to transport the mood of the customisable collaboration space: standing desks, movable whiteboards and furniture.
Moodboard for the customisable team space, images from unsplash

Tech setup

Pairing stations

Conference rooms

Team spaces

Naming our meeting rooms after inspiring thought leaders

Images of (left to right): Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Inge Lehmann, Jeanne Villepreux-Power, Alexander von Humboldt, Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin.
Images from Wikipedia, left to right: Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Inge Lehmann, Jeanne Villepreux-Power, Alexander von Humboldt, Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin.

Working with the facilities team

7. Iterate together

A violet neon sign, saying “we are open”.
Image from unsplash

Experiments we ran

🐝 Office Thursday

🥗 Bi-weekly lunches

💙 In-Person collaboration time

👀 Remote advocate

🧐 Back to the office retro

🚊Flexible commute time, half-day in

🚲 Cycle to work, bicycle storage and showers

💻 Remote optimised pairing stations

🖥 A portal between the office and remote team members

⌨️ Extra keyboards, mouse and charger for the office

⚡️ New business workshops and strategy on-site

What we learned

Photo of a whiteboard containing a team retrospective. It has three sections: green for positive things, yellow for things that could be improved and red for things that need to be addressed soon.
Team retrospective on the office re-opening, image taken by the author

🏠 🏢 Hybrid model

🤝 The office as a collaboration hub

✅ Flexibility is key

📈 Empathy levels spiked for folks who met in person

🏓 Building relationships and taking a break is work, too

🤖 We’re not robots

⚠️ Proximity bias is real

🐶 People would like to bring their furry friends

🛋 Furniture ordering & delivery takes time

Shoutout

A visual divider saying “Thank you!”

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Antonia Horvath

Antonia is a design & business leader, facilitator and problem-solver who helps organisations to innovate through digital products with amazing user experiences