How does a building design take unique shape in a new location but remain true to its brand identity?
Our real estate team has thought a lot about that question, for our move into a custom building in Waltham, Massachusetts and beyond. Despite the great range of functions and cultures of Cimpress’ businesses across the globe, Senior Director of Corporate Real Estate Albert Plans and his team seek consistency, whether they’re constructing a building in London or Mumbai. Of course, with a company as innovative as Cimpress, the primary goal must always be building fluidity into their design.
Here’s how they do it:
Designing open space for workstations rather than private offices is consistent across Cimpress offices. It’s space that encourages sharing between divisions. Another benefit of open space is just how easy it is to reconfigure it, should the company make team or organizational changes. While the goal of open design is to prioritize collaboration , this isn’t the Real Estate team’s only focus. Plans is particularly concerned about the comfort of team members. “When we look at office design, we try to optimize space for team members,” he says. “All open space is important but so is natural light.”
Flexibility & Functionality
The team follows design trends where the market supports it, but trends never trump usefulness. When employees resist the design, the Cimpress Real Estate team listens. “Our team members will say, that’s cool, but that’s not functional,” Senior Project Manager Bartolome Salom says. Outside of each kitchenette in Waltham, for example, seating is available. Architects had suggested raising the flooring for this seating area, but that would prevent the area from being reduced in the future to accommodate new needs. Slight partitions are being utilized to set off the space instead. “What prevailed,” said Salom, “was simplicity and functionality.”
Plans and his team always consider future as well as current needs. For example, in the new Waltham office, USB power is being incorporated into the conference rooms that include new furniture, a recommendation from an AV consultant. This upgrade gives the conference rooms capabilities for future technological demands.
When designing throughout the world, the corporate real estate team has discovered that cultural differences are important to consider. While it might pose challenges, localizing building design—the 30 percent of planning that varies—can lead to unique styles in various Cimpress buildings. For example, our Mumbai team members were eager to feature Indian movie stars in the conference rooms. In London, the conference rooms were named for significant British cultural associations, such as James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, the Spice Girls, and Fish and Chips. And in Barcelona, the corporate real estate team demonstrated environment commitment with greenwalls (walls constructed of plants). Such attention to cultural requests and needs is typical of the team’s work.
Evolving in Real Time
Being ‘in house’ is part of what makes the real estate team’s adaptability possible. With so much company knowledge, the group doesn’t have to lose time getting to know all of the angles of each project. Instead, they can deal with design issues in real time and evolve style with full awareness of what’s needed. And with the help of local architects in each country where they build, the team can respect local design and understand cultural needs. The results are not only spaces that are responsive to each office’s needs, but remarkable efficiency in completing them. “We can move from concept and planning to execution really quickly,” Plans said.
The corporate real estate team builds Cimpress production plants as well, which are even more complicated than the offices. Whether involving a new land purchase or the expansion of a facility, plant development can involve a dizzying number of local health and safety codes, permits, and engineering team demands.
The corporate real estate team’s challenges might seem overwhelming to the rest of us, but their rule of thumb, at least, is simple: “Don’t compromise functionality because of design,” said Salom. “If it’s functional, it’s effectual.”