Jacob Morgan, author of The Future of Work, defines the physical work environment as “one we can see, touch, taste, and smell. It’s the art that hangs on the walls, the office floor plan, the demographics of the people we work with, and any physical perks we might get, such as catered meals in a beautiful cafeteria.”
Just how important is the modern office? And why should companies invest in remarkable physical spaces for their employees? Research consistently shows that employee satisfaction is closely correlated with productivity and performance. The physical workplace is a pivotal factor in that calculation. Employees who like where they work are more engaged. There are plenty of benchmarks and data, such as Gensler’s Workplace Index or the Leesman Index, that are dedicated to the employee experience as it relates to physical space and workplace design.
A new home
In late 2018, we opened our newest campus in Guadalajara, Mexico. The campus is part of the Esfera complex, built and designed by SOM, the architecture firm behind the Burj Khalifa and Freedom Tower. The facilities are inspired by the best of Silicon Valley culture but sourced from mostly local makers to create a uniquely global workspace.
We first opened our Guadalajara office in 2014 and moved to the La Perla district in 2016, with capacity for up to 150 employees. With over 400 employees in Guadalajara, we quickly outgrew that space. We set out to design a new home, one that reflected our values and culture; one built on Agile thinking, collaboration, diversity, creativity, and ownership.
Agile and UX Practices
Agile methodologies are present in everything we do. We anchor our work in Agile to consistently deliver great software and products. We pride ourselves on helping our clients solve their biggest challenges with design and technology so we know just how crucial the user experience can be.
We approached this project the same way we approach our UX client projects – in an agile fashion. We started by listening to our users. The design and facilities team met with various internal teams to build a space that would encompass the needs of the entire company:
- More space for our Wizeline Academy community programs and courses
- Collaborative spaces to host hackathons, panels, and recruitment events
- Quiet spaces to get work done
We created the master floor plan and regularly iterated on the designs based on our team’s feedback.
The result? A multidimensional 97,000 square foot building centered around four design pillars: collaboration, focus, recreation & wellness, utility, and custom-fit for Wizeline’s role as an enterprise, educator, and event host.
The Guadalajara office is an office by our people, for our people. The vision, build, and physical move mobilized everyone from Facilities, to Design, Security, Marketing, and everyone in between. The product is truly an embodiment of a collaborated vision for our employees and clients.
Everyone came together to solve unique challenges. As a globally-distributed team, the new office needed to be oriented to the nature of remote work. Our IT and DevOps teams worked to ensure reliable internet was installed and that our conferencing capabilities were up to speed. The campus deploys sophisticated cyber-security practices and has a dedicated high-speed network scalable to 1GB of bandwidth. Our UX, Facilities, and Operations teams worked together to hack the strategic combination of meeting room sizes. We knew we needed a sufficient amount of rooms for standups and quiet areas. We settled on 60 meeting rooms, 25 private phone booths, and a large auditorium for all-hands.
Wizeline is at the forefront of diverse work cultures and inclusive workspaces. It was paramount that we had an office that could serve all of the unique individuals on our team.
The new facilities are centered around employee wellness, making it easier than ever for Wizeline employees to stay healthy at work with a cross-disciplinary gym, a nurse’s office, and a wellness room.
Daycare for families
We believe no one should have to choose between their children and their career, and providing onsite daycare and nursery room was one of the best ways to ensure our working parents felt supported.
With this new campus, we are able to provide prayer rooms, a meditation zone for diverse spiritual practices, as well as gender-neutral bathrooms.
“Wizeline is a Silicon Valley-based technology company with global operations, so as a result, when we think about our value system, it needs to reflect that,” says Bismarck Lepe, Wizeline founder and CEO. “We invest a tremendous amount on inclusion and accepting people from all over the world because we believe that people can contribute no matter where they are from. This makes us stronger. Period.”
Diversity at every angle
The designer behind world-renowned offices like Airbnb and Soundcloud believes in design for diversity, which she says also includes designing spaces for both the introverts and extroverts in your office. This requires both quiet spaces and a communal heart. With 35 dedicated quiet spaces and focus rooms, including libraries, phone booths, and classrooms, introverts can feel at home in the open office. Our vibrant, 16,000 sq. ft. roof deck terrace is undoubtedly the communal heart and social hub of the office.
Engineering backed by creativity is what spurs innovation. We encourage everyone to think like a creative with dedicated spaces for a design studio, a photo studio, and an innovation lab. These creative labs invite developers and UX designers to come together, experiment with new technologies, and spark creative projects.
58 artworks from local Guadalajara artists are prominently displayed around the office and serve to strengthen the connection between the arts and technologies communities. Visitors can purchase artworks via a QR code displayed below each artwork. Similarly, all our furniture was sourced locally, by both crafty employees and regional makers, with products of international quality.
Ownership consistently ranks among the top reasons Wizeliners love to work at Wizeline. Our team members have autonomy and flexibility to do their best work. As a result, they take initiative, own their work, and use it to grow their careers.
Award-winning social psychologist and author of The Best Place to Work, Dr. Ron Friedman also leads ignite80, an organization dedicated to helping leaders improve employee engagement in their creative spaces. Friedman turns thousands of studies into practical advice for transforming an office into a fantastic workspace.
When asked how to satisfy everyone’s needs in a diverse workplace, Friedman says “The solution is providing people with choice. This really is the manifestation of autonomy — giving people some control over how they go about doing their job and part of that can be choosing the location of where they do their work. In The Best Place To Work, I talk about the university model providing a really nice roadmap for organizations. If you think about how students operate within universities, they have the option of going to the library, dorm, cafeteria, quad or gym depending on what they need to do.
The future of the workplace is a location that attracts employees who want to come there because it facilitates their performance. That’s what we need to be thinking about when it comes to building great workspaces because ultimately that’s what people are looking for. The answer lies in building offices that optimize space for performance instead of just profitability.”
Our vision of world-class delivery for our clients is what drove us to create a space optimized for our team’s performance.
“This was a huge investment,” says Lepe, “but it was an investment that was supported by senior management and by our investors. It’s really a statement piece—we have world-class facilities because we have world-class talent, and everybody who visits the campus will feel that. We want everything about the company to compete at the same level as the Googles or Amazons of the world, so we’re investing in our facilities to invest in our people. It’s a statement that Mexico has arrived and it’s here to stay.”