Between a company and its customers...
Our business model places a principal focus on the interface between a company and its customers, between an agency and those it serves, between an organization and its constituents and stakeholders.
In the best of cases, this means that our attention on a company’s customers and our comprehension of what they value allows us to make a better connection between purpose and fulfillment in the places where we make our contribution – the spaces where the company’s employees do the work that contributes to the value of the organization and its value to its customers.
This connection is rarely made in our client organizations at the time when we initially connect. Most of the companies we serve come with a well developed program for the deployment of the workplace. These are usually spatial models based on an increasingly out-of-date management model that measured attendance rather than contribution and rewarded power and tenure rather than allocating precious resources to the job to be done. Most of these companies were fundamentally shaken in the Great Recession. Now, having recovered enough to consider new spaces, they arrive with legacy expectations and bear obsolete occupancy standards.
Our initial conversations – Why are you in business? Why do your customers come to you? – point at purpose and perceived value before moving inward to the workplace. When the conversation about a workspace is shaped in this way, the design that follows moves out of the lexicon of standards, or even the language of the conventional workplace. Metaphorically, we witness the death of the desk.
There is a huge momentum in this direction, now. Tom Godwin, VP for strategy and innovation at Havas Media had everybody buzzing recently with this observation –
Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.
We paid attention because this made so much sense to us. Vertically-integrated, "full-stack" companies were shaped more for themselves than for the customer. Customers now, however, have the tools to set aside all of the distribution structure that occluded their path to the things and experiences that they truly wanted. To quote Tom, “the battle [now] is for the customer interface.”
We are not a technology company. So why do we pay attention to this? Because between a company and its customer are all of the people who have some role to play in the customer interface, in the customer’s experience. All of those people, in all of those organizational functions, come to work everyday to a place that either helps or hinders that purpose.
We just don’t think that the choice, or assignment, of a door or a cube has anything to do with that purpose.