Office Design With Collaboration in Mind

By: Summer Mandell

One association designed its new office space with help from its members. The new space allows employees to interact informally and has contributed to increased morale.

What's the great idea? Redesign your office with help from members.

Who's doing it? CoreNet Global

What's involved? One of the first places that visitors to CoreNet Global's downtown office will see is Exclamation Point, a meeting space tucked in a corner with a view of the Atlanta skyline. Local publications have called the office futuristic, but CEO Angela Cain says creating the new space was about more than innovative design: "We set out to transform the way that we serve our members, and what ended up happening is that our members transformed the way we work."

CoreNet Global's members are corporate real estate and workplace-design professionals who promote open, collaborative environments. But the association's old office had closed walls and doors, which led to organizational silos. "I think that we did not practice what we preached as an association when it came to our own office space," says Cain. With a year lease left on the old space, the association started designing its new office on the 30th floor of the Georgia-Pacific Tower with help from member experts.

Staff explained the redesign to members, and hundreds who were interested in helping showed up to a conference information session. Member-led design and construction, change management, and provision teams worked with staff members to design the office, which features unassigned seating, connected tables, and a centrally located kitchen—a hub for informal meetings. The association also received more than $500,000 in donated goods and services from members.

Cain says the change-management team was one reason the move was a success. "They helped prepare the staff for all of the things that are different in the environment, like lowering your voice, being respectful of the work that's going on around you … and all of that, I think, helped people embrace [the office] before they even came in," she says.

What are people saying? After 10 months of planning, staff moved into the new headquarters in July. Members—who visit often—and staff feel connected to the new space because of the input they provided from the start. Cain says there are fewer interoffice emails and formal meetings. Plus, the association has reduced occupancy costs by a third and increased morale.

"What it really did was bring us closer together, the members and the staff," says Cain. "I can't express the sense of pride that comes with this new space in staff members and members around the world. It's the kind of space you're excited to come to every day."

Video: Tour CoreNet Global's Office Space