By Kristen Scott
Kristen Scott is Managing Partner and Senior Principal of Weber Thompson where she heads the Workplace studio. As Managing Partner of Weber Thompson for more than 20 years, she has overseen the growth of the firm from its beginnings to the sustainably focused 70 person multi-disciplinary firm it is today.
We’ve been in our new building for one month, and I’m noticing some positive changes in how we are working and interacting. Everything from seeing people use the new bins for compost in the kitchen (I had no idea you can put used paper towels in them) to having impromptu pinup critiques in the many breakout spaces scattered throughout the office.
Elevator use has dropped significantly, thanks to a prominent open staircase in the courtyard. The open stair has the added benefit of being a perfect spot to peer across the court and see who’s meeting in the conference rooms and if that staffer you’re looking for is at their desk. The transparency is surprising – it’s a good thing we have some enclosed private telephone rooms. Without those, there’d be no hiding! Chance meetings in the stair or the kitchen/lounge offer opportunities to ask about how a project is going or to scope out the wait time for lunch at Skillet Street Food…
Such transparency also has connected us to the outside world in ways that our old “bunker” never allowed. You can’t help but look at the sky from your desk to see if it’s still umbrella weather or if the trolley is on time to get you downtown for that meeting.
And our original design goal for natural daylight? It’s being easily met. So far, we rarely use our overhead lights. Even on overcast days, the daylight is perfect for computer usage.
The physical expression of sustainability has inspired about one third of our firm to join Group Health’s Bike to Work Challenge. We have three teams including more than 20 new bike commuters. Four work days into the month, Weber Thompson teams have logged more than 400 miles riding to work. Most of these miles would have been traveled in single-occupancy vehicles.
There’s something very satisfying about building exercise into our commutes while simultaneously reducing our carbon footprint. The fresh air in the morning definitely wakes you up, and having the option to open windows in the afternoon chases away the ‘after-lunch sleepies’ many of us experienced in our old space.
Now if there was just some way to reduce the number of hills on the ride home. I suppose a few more trips up and down the stairs will take care of that!