Research to Back Your Renovation

By: Mary Beth Oakes, Business Furniture + CO CEO and Co-Owner

Let’s be honest. Making spaces beautiful get our designer’s hearts pumping, but when we add in the big WHY- function and results– the crowd goes wild.

This massive renovation at our Indianapolis office space has us very excited. We’ve done the research and know what we want our hybrid to look like, and the investment makes good sense because it aligns with the values and goals of our company.

Our Business Furniture + Co team is creating the first workspace in our market devoted to hybrid work, and we’ve asked in-depth questions to create more than an office but a community.

Yes, creating great spaces is our bread and butter- but hybrid has thrown us all for a curve. We’re working in new ways, our teams want more, and our clients are looking to us to show them how.

I’ve pulled my hair out like pretty much every leader trying to figure out, What’s Our Hybrid? Why do I want our teams back in the office? Why do I want THEM to WANT to be here so badly?

Just like working from home was called a “great experiment,” we are now in the middle of a new phase of discovery called “hybrid work.” 

Many organizations have tried to define their policies clearly, yet, there’s no consensus on the best way. Each organization, team, and worker are still trying to figure out the right balance for their unique needs.

For our team, we believe in the power of neighborhoods to re-ignite our office. This means unassigned team spaces but a neighborhood each team can call home. Great communities can evolve and change because people aren’t static, and neither is their work. Hybrid work will bring uncertainty, and things will change. And that’s a good thing.

While I don’t have all the answers, I try to surround myself with smart thought partners. I spoke with our co-owner and our leader in Human Resources, Suzanne Bentley, about hybrid work and why it’s a critical recruitment tool.

“Every new candidate I interview wants to know our remote policies, and they’re looking for flexibility. If we want to continue to attract the best and retain our workers, we have to set a clear hybrid philosophy.”

-Suzanne Bentley, Business Furniture + Co President

I then asked our senior designers and workplace research consultants to dive into what our team needed to work hybrid successfully.

“Our change agents are leaning into the research from our teams. We’ve done a town hall and focus group meetings with every department to define what hybrid means for each worker. Then, we are communicating the company WHY, why is this renovation to our space so important right now? These steps are critical to get everyone on board and excited about the change to their work space.”

– Danielle Davis, Director of Design and Workplace Strategy

It’s why our team of hybrid experts exists. Our CHOREO department works alongside our designers to help choreograph change for our clients. In-depth sessions involve controlled discussions and activities and allow employees to express themselves in the current workplace environments.

We knew we had immediate and urgent needs:

  • Shared areas for the teams
  • Collaboration spaces
  • Places with privacy for focused heads-down work
  • Areas to gather, socialize and learn with teammates

It became incredibly evident neighborhoods are our answer.

Neighborhoods at work, like the ones people live in, provide a home base for people and teams or departments. They include a variety of interconnected spaces that support different types of work, a mixture of uses, and the natural flow from one to another.

We’re dividing our space into the city, suburbs, and countryside/rural neighborhoods. A space for each type of worker.

Great neighborhoods are diverse, inclusive, and resilient. They bring people together and create a sense of community, yet they change over time to respond to those who live there. Everyone has a responsibility to the whole, and yet people’s individual identities shine.

So, here we are, committed to making our office more like the places we choose to live. And we’re just getting started; as I’ve watched the walls go down this week, I can’t wait to welcome our teams back.

Neighborhoods are blocked off to show spaces in new Indianapolis showroom renovation.
  1. Rita M says:

    Love seeing the evolution of BF+C neighborhoods! Can’t wait to see it in person.

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