Every business goes through change. There will be periods of rapid growth for an agency, and naturally as a result there will be times when you question how you’ll structure the furniture layout to fit everyone in but still have those all important breakout areas.
If you’ve been following us closely for the last week, you’ll not have missed that iThinkMedia has rebranded to Honchō. Not only does this mean a new name and rebrand of our logo and credentials, but it also came with a complete refit of our countryside office; a 17th century barn and stables in Hertfordshire.
Before Honchō we were on the cusp of expansion, and had a 22-strong-team of SEO, Content, Paid Media and Digital PR specialists. Already being able to offer a private swimming pool, tennis court, free parking, work/lunch garden spaces, and a green countryside surroundings set us apart – the perks of not being in London hey! – but the interior was just as crucial to nail. Here’s what we have done and what we learnt:
Hot desking has been a buzz word for a while, but in an agency that requires a lot of our team to second-screen on a daily basis and sit near their close counterparts, it wasn’t realistic. Neither was sitting all the senior team in a separate room when we want to instill a leadership culture. We mixed up seating for the benefit of personal growth so teams are encouraged to mingle with those they wouldn’t normally but to also build cross-transferable skills. Our SEO team’s general chit-chat is hugely beneficial to the Content team who are writing for the web, so it’s a win:win.
Paperless meetings have been known to be more productive. Ask yourself how many times you’ve been in meetings just to see others doodling or writing a shopping list? It happens! We’ve kitted out a whole whiteboard-painted wall, and part of our boardroom with glass note boards. It’s more suited to our creative environment and allows people to engage and explain things more visually both internally and with clients.
Get rid of those technical nuances that always have historically impacted client meetings and the day-to-day. No one wants a speaker right in their ear that sends them deaf and hating work; invest in a Sonos and surround sound. No one wants to be squinting for the screen and faffing for cables in meetings to share screens either; invest in a decent sized, quality TV screen with wireless connectivity to streamline the process. And it probably goes without saying in 2019, but get the best connection you can for your team – we installed a dedicated 1GB line for internet.
A big part of the rebrand was for our name Honchō and our look to reflect our specialisms; automotive and retail. We live and breathe these two industries so want our visitors to feel that too and know EXACTLY what we are about. So we installed a fully fitted boutique retail store into our connecting reception between our two core buildings. Visitors receive a luxury retail experience and will leave with a Honchō branded shirt and merchandise, just as they would from a quality store; reiterating our service, commitment to detail, and specialisms. And as for our employees, they come into an environment every day that reflects what they do. We want them to feel proud and excited when they walk in.
Figure out what works and actually is useful, and lose what isn’t. We moved our boardroom upstairs so it provided a quieter space for meetings and turned our old one into a breakout booth, and created a smaller Skype room for confidential calls. Already we see our team moving around a lot more and using spaces where they will be most productive. Utilising the space sensibly, meant we also now have the room with our expansion to re-introduce a games room. We’re a fun, young and social bunch with a couple of table tennis fans (experts?!) in the team, so there’s a space to take time out from lunch away from a screen. Being active and getting that break is important, so we also installed a shower room in our old kitchen so our local employees can cycle or run to work or use this facility if they exercise at lunch. A simple touch, but it’s these practicalities that make the difference to your team’s health.
Sure there’s a lot of companies that will just say to get beanbags and stick a load of plants in the corner – but it’s about finding what is right that engages your team and gives them the best workplace to find the right balance of focus and social interaction. Before committing to the rebrand and office refit, we engaged the whole team in the process to see what would actually make a difference to their working day.
Connecting our stables and barn buildings and offering multiple breakout areas for quiet calls, quick team huddles and writing focus areas were important, so we made sure we had them.
We’re proud of our countryside office just 17 miles from London, and think this adds to our unique look as a search marketing agency! We don’t think you’ll find many places like it to work. Let us know what you think of the refit and follow us on social media to see more updates and pictures of our progress so far.