Crowdsourcing Workplace Design: a case study

Well, if you haven’t heard, we at Visible Measures recently moved office space. However, what you probably didn’t know is that this move, and all of the office space design, was performed entirely by the company employees….this is a lesson in crowdsourced design.

As a growing technology company, with state-of-the-art technology, and in a really hot market, we were bursting at the seams of our former office space…so it was time to move on to bigger, and better office space.

What we did

Unlike most companies of our size, we decided to go back to our roots, and keep things very frugal, and “startup”…or as VM advisor, David Cancel, would say “ghettopreneur”.

This approach meant all of the basics would have to be handled; like boxing stuff up, moving furniture, renting a U-Haul truck, and lots of little trips back and forth. However, in taking this approach, we were afforded to do something very unique: to all pitch in to design our own office space. To make things fun, we enacted an HGTV-style competition where teams signed up and developed their own concepts on a limited budgets, and timeframe, to execute their concepts. While the budget was fixed, we erred on the side of fewer rules, in order to let the creativity flourish. Additionally, we employed the best interior designer I know (um, well…ok it’s my wife) to provide guidance to the teams, and to help out with our other common areas.

What we got

The results of our design crowdsourcing experiment were incredible, and included the following:

  • A replica of Seinfeld’s Monk’s cafe
  • A physical history of video from the 1800s – present
  • Inspirational images and quotes elegantly displayed to remind us that we’re doing something bigger than oursleves
  • A room fashioned entirely out of cardboard, to symbolize innovation, resiliency, and resourcefulness
  • A zen like retreat, including a fountain made by hand
  • Kick-ass common areas and flexible workspaces, all with Ideapaint walls, company memorabilia, and inspirational images (e.g. Rocky) and objects (like championship banners)

The takeaway from this, our people on the front-lines have an incredible sense of what it takes for them to be most productive and happy. So by providing some support and leeway, their creativity was unleashed and resulted in a finished product far better than any individual, or “committee”, could possibly conceive.

What this means to us as a company

In this blog, I’ve discussed some of the factors of creating culture, as well as the academic underpinnings; however, demonstrations like this, of what a team can do, are surprising when you see them in action.

I have personally never been a part of anything like this, where (for a company of this size and funding) so many people come together voluntarily to make this happen, but it’s certainly really cool and a lot of fun. So many people contributing in so many ways, from helping to prep, to lending vehicles, to bringing in food / coffee (and beer), to words / e-mails of encouragement, and so so many other acts large and small done without being asked, and on pure initiative, heart, and selflessness…and in the end, our space is exceptionally cool and fun.

This entire experience has been symbolic of the kind of dedication and hard work it takes to build a truly unique and legendary company. A great company is created by what happens within its walls, not outside of it; and what its people can do, not what can be done for them. I can definitively say, this is the stuff legends are made of. Thanks to all of the employees of Visible Measures for going way above and beyond the call of duty, and for creating and shaping a venue to do many more incredible things in the years ahead.

See for yourself

Don’t take my word for it, see the slideshow below for a taste of what a talented, and committed, bunch of geeks can do!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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