Making space for the new

We give shape to our buildings and then they begin to shape us. I remember reading this somewhere and its true meaning dawns upon me as we get set to shift into our new office in Delhi. We have a lovely gymnasium, open green terrace spaces which we are calling the zen zone, a colourful and vibrant cafeteria that doubles up as a ‘Town-Hall’ venue, and many more facilities that we never had before. Will this space make us more collaborative and creative? healthier and happier? I don’t know for sure, but I certainly hope so.

350+ seats await us and as we pour over the drawings trying to figure out who sits where I am reminded of an anecdote, I heard many years ago at the ‘Editors Of The World Conference’. A story about the importance of who sits where in an office, which I had completely forgotten popped up.

The Al Jazeera digital team at one point in time was always seated in a hidden corner of the office. Till there was an incident that knocked out the normal broadcast and the digital team was their only link to the world to keep sharing news. From that day the Editor decided to shift their seats and place them in the centre of the office to remind everyone of how central to their offering that (then tiny) digital team was. Digital became mainstream for them only when they acknowledged it with structural change starting with the physical location of their team that signalled their importance. I share this story with the team that is debating who gets to sit where so that they understand the significance of the decisions being made.

Steve Jobs was also a big believer in office design and its impact on creativity and collaboration. He designed the PIXAR office in such a way that teams who would not normally meet or interact bumped into each other in common areas by placing the bathroom in a central area, as opposed to each floor. If that worked or not is debatable but it illustrates the power of workspaces to touch people’s lives. A pertinent point to be reminded of as the WFH Vs Work from Office and hybrid work debate rages on. I am sure that in time we will find the right answers.

A house becomes a home when people shift into it and make it their own. Adfactors House will soon become our new work home and we remind each other that we must take care to take care of our new space. A team meeting dedicated to discussing this topic throws up so many areas that we need to focus on. From no eating at our desks to dustbins and waste disposal the discussion moved to gym usage and where sweaty gym clothes and shoes will be stored and then veered towards keeping a clutter-free workspace and much more in between. Ownership denotes care. Once the team feels ownership of the new workspace they will be involved and invested in taking care of it. 

A lot of thought and care went into the designing of our new office. Specially commissioned art pieces for instance are a way to bring our culture to the people visually. An AI-created picture that brings alive the story of the partnership between the two founders but also a signal of a digital future and how we are embracing it with open arms. A beautiful statue in celebration of the women of the firm that is given pride of place and a reminder that we have to work hard on our Diversity and Inclusion agenda, are just two examples. At a functional level safety and quality were underlying principles, that meant the entire wiring of the building was pulled out and replaced. A wellness room with plans to have a doctor on call also is a reminder to me about the need to focus on both physical and mental wellness as we move forward in our journey.

Make space to create space. This is the cycle of how our thoughts and ideas define the space we create and then the space takes over and starts to define us. Change is inevitable, I remind myself. Embrace change and be the author of it. Making space for the new can be so much fun.

What are you creating space for in your life today?

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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