In this episode of the Epic Company Culture podcast, Patrick Braswell with TRANSCEND joins us for an in-depth look at the relationship between company culture, and office space. This is the intersection where the intangible aspects of company culture and physical aspects of office space meet. Patrick’s deep understanding of this complex relationship allows him to help organization’s create physical spaces that align with the culture they want to create.
CEO at Transcend: Love where you work
As a top-notch thought leader in his respective industry, Patrick maneuver through his work with passion and grace. He’s a genuine leader and an empathetic listener. His dedication to making businesses of all sizes great places to work is admirable and needed.
3565 Piedmont Road NE Building 4, Suite 205 Atlanta, GA 30305
Transcend is a commercial real estate brokerage firm with an exclusive process for transcending companies into spaces that reflect their cultures, engage employees, and increase productivity.
LOVE WHERE YOU WORK
Transcend also has an internal IT move services team that cables commercial space for internet & phones, along with providing access control systems such as Brivo, Openpath, Kisi & Sequr.
Specialties: Elevating the Workplace, Commercial Real Estate Brokerage, IT move services
From the Podcast Booth:
Series Quick Links
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast, where your host, Josh Sweeney, will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals, and company culture aficionados, the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.
Josh Sweeney: Hello, and welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast.
Before I get started, I’d like to thank Prototype Prime for this amazing podcast space.
Today’s episode is all about the culture of space. We have Patrick Braswell from TRANSCEND in the podcast room and tell us all about space and culture.
Thanks for joining us.
Series: Culture Experts
Patrick Braswell: Josh, thanks for having me here.
Yeah, man, TRANSCEND is all about space and culture. What we’re known for is helping companies align their culture to their office space that they’re in, which typically will increase productivity, and more importantly, the employee engagement. So it’s all about taking data of your existing space, how it’s affecting culture and productivity, and then when you’re going and looking at new space, or even want to retrofit your own space, have that data incorporated into the design to make sure that your employees are both engaged but productive.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, and when we first started talking about this, there’s a lot of people talking about space and making space match their culture, and it’s a little more anecdotal. It’s something that they do, it’s something that they talk about.
Transcend: Culture Survey
But what I found unique about you was, and TRANSCEND is, you actually do a little bit of a culture survey ahead of time to the organization to understand more about what the employees are looking for, and you have data points that you’re going back to management and saying, “Here’s what people want. Here’s what they’re asking for. How do we merge the business needs with the employee needs in order to create your next amazing space?”
So tell us a little bit about the survey, the questions you ask, some of the things you’ve uncovered.
Patrick Braswell: It’s funny, we’ve been at this for four years now, and so over those four years, we have now surveyed close to 4000 employees. Obviously not all at one business, that’s amongst all of our clients, but the survey has just gotten better and better and better as we start to see more data coming in, we start to realize other questions we should be asking, and it’s been a great ride. It really has.
Space and Employees
But the key to it for us… These are million-dollar decisions being made. A lease is a million-dollar decision most of the time being made, and people just don’t have data. It’s more about, “Hey Josh, how many employees do you have? Let’s say 150 per square foot per employee. Okay, great, let’s go find you 4000 square feet,” and then I show you between five and 20 buildings in Buckhead because that’s where you want to be.
What we have found is that you have to understand how that current space is affecting your employees, and that culture survey that you mention is one of the key ways that we do it. It’s a five-to-seven-minute survey. We send it to the employees, and it usually comes from the CEO or COO and goes out. There are questions in there all about culture, branding within the space, productivity, job function, and then we really dive into the nitty-gritty of the effects of that space on not only your role within the company, but also on your psyche, and again, back to the culture.
Culture Survey: Open-Ended Questions
So what started off as about 10 questions are now close to 32. There are some open-ended questions, which I got to tell you, there are some awesome answers when you do this with open-ended questions. It’s like, “What’s one thing you love about your company?” And then, “What’s one thing you love about your space?” And then, “What’s one thing that you cannot stand about the space?” Those three open-ended questions right there, they yield some amazing answers, answers that are really just at the heart of what may be wrong or what may be great about the company, and then there are some off-the-wall ones that you just sit there and you laugh at and you’re like, “That is hilarious.”
Josh Sweeney: “But I can’t do anything about it.”
Patrick Braswell: But I can’t do anything about that! Like, “Josh chews with his mouth open at his desk and it drives me nuts.”
Culture Survey: Answers
Josh Sweeney: Right, right. That would be a problem.
Patrick Braswell: Right!
So we’re like, “Okay, we’ll incorporate something where you have to eat in the break room.” But it’s just funny, something like that.
Josh Sweeney: No eating at your desk for you.
Patrick Braswell: Right.
But you will find things in there that says, “What’s one thing you love about the space you’re in?” And someone will write, “Nothing, but I love the company culture.” And that’s a great answer to get because that’s something you can fix, and that’s something you can inspire because you’ve seen that answer, and what you’re doing as far as the company culture is great, your space just doesn’t reflect that.
Culture Survey: Funny Answers
Josh Sweeney: So what are some of the really good and really funny or bad answers you’ve gotten? Or did you recall any?
Patrick Braswell: Yes, I can definitely recall some. The one that I gave you is a real-life one, and we actually get that quite often, and they literally put the names in there. “So-and-so eats at his desk every day and he chews with his mouth open.”
Right. And then there are some that will say, “Indian food smells really bad, and I sit near the break room, and when someone’s cooking Indian food, it smells throughout the office.”
Culture Survey: Easy Fix
But typical funny ones that you get are, “I sit right next to the bathrooms and so-and-so and so-and-so always bring the paper with them to the bathroom and then put it back in the break room, and I think that’s disgusting.”
Josh Sweeney: Right. You’re like, “I did not need to know that, but maybe I did!”
Patrick Braswell: Well, you’re looking at it and you’re like, “I know a few guys in my company that will do that.” And it’s typically a female that’s saying that.
Josh Sweeney: So the new bathroom needs a paper holder.
Patrick Braswell: Right, there needs a paper holder. Or just don’t bring it back to the break room.
Josh Sweeney: Right.
Patrick Braswell: But there are typical things like that.
One time and this is a very, very simple example, but one time we found that the culture was amazing, the space that they were in was lining up great, there was just one small problem and it was the easiest fix in the world. And that was, the company needed a coat rack. Because people were tired of putting their coats on the back of their chairs.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Patrick Braswell: And that was it!
Josh Sweeney: Easy fix.
Patrick Braswell: I mean, just an easy fix.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Patrick Braswell: So there are examples of that, but that’s very rare. Usually, it’s much more in-depth and complex than just that, but—
Josh Sweeney: And I’m sure there are regional examples like you mentioned the coat rack. When I travel up north, there’s always a coat check somewhere.
Patrick Braswell: Oh yeah.
Josh Sweeney: In Atlanta, unless you’re going somewhere really nice, I don’t often think about checking my coat, or have one in a lot of times.
Patrick Braswell: Yeah, yeah.
Josh Sweeney: Or you’re just wearing your sport jacket or whatever else it is. But I was in Chicago a few months ago, and they wanted you to check your coat and check everything before you went in, and there’s like this logistics around it.
Patrick Braswell: Oh yeah.
Josh Sweeney: I guess that’s the same for the company. I never really thought about it, but if you’re in an office in the northeast, you’ve got to have a place to store all this stuff.
Patrick Braswell: Oh yeah. I one time had a client in Boston, and I went on a walking tour of Boston in February. For the record, I left my overcoat. I forgot about it. It wasn’t like I didn’t think about it, I just forgot it. I show up and the guy that I was working within Boston picks me up at the airport and he’s like, “You Southern guys are all the same.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” He’s like, “None of you have ever come up here with an overcoat,” and I was like, “Whoa! I forgot about it!”
Josh Sweeney: “I’m going door-to-door, it’s okay.”
Patrick Braswell: The third building we went to, I was like, “Y’all are going to have to do this on your own. I’ve got to go find an overcoat.” So I bought an overpriced Joseph A. Banks. Whatever.
But no, a lot of what you find is there are regional things, and when we do these culture studies with companies at multiple locations, you start to see that.
Technology Miss Match
But one thing that I don’t think most companies think about is, say you have 12 locations. You’ve got your headquarters, and you have 12 regional or national locations. The technology piece in those collaboration rooms, in those conference rooms, it drives people nuts when they don’t match up to the office that they’re used to.
Josh Sweeney: Oh yeah. Yeah. Because you learn how to use one system, and then you go to the other one and it’s not working.
Patrick Braswell: And it’s completely different. And now it’s not that expensive to match those up everywhere you go, but it’s just one of those things that, I’m in the business and I didn’t even think about it until we started looking at the data from these culture studies, and we’re like, “Oh man. These people are using Skype all the time, but the way they’re interacting with the technology in the collaboration rooms is different in all 12 locations. And so it’s driving these people nuts.” They’re going from Atlanta to Boston, they’re trying to do a teleconference call, and they can’t get the system to work in Boston because they’re not used to it.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Patrick Braswell: So it’s just little things like that.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, and I’m sure you come across all sorts of examples. Before we started talking on the podcast, we were talking about Key Card and Entry and PC and Secure and all these different systems, but it’s the same thing. You travel somewhere else and it’s owned by a different building, it has a different key card, there’s more to manage for them. Every time somebody travels between office, you’ve got to call somebody up instead of going into an app and saying, “Yeah, they have access to this door or this room.” Right?
Patrick Braswell: Yeah. It’s exactly right. The access control is a very easy one to think about. There are a lot of new technologies and new players going into access control. We have an IT group within TRANSCEND that helps with the move of the IT, so we’re talking about the cabling, the internet, phones, and the access control, and we have seen that. You’ve got your fob card in Atlanta, you go to Boston and it’s not going to work, and so you’ve got to have someone come down. But if you had Akizi, a secure and open path, or Abrivo, it’s actually tied to your phone.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Patrick Braswell: And so that security system would allow you to get into whatever space you’re in, wherever in the country, based on an app on your phone versus a card that you’re carrying around.
Josh Sweeney: Which makes it tremendously easier.
Patrick Braswell: So much easier.
Josh Sweeney: One of my first companies was Telecomm and we did some key list access control systems, and it’s like, you’re setting up a server that sits in the rack somewhere, and somebody’s managing that, and it goes down and… It’s all Cloud-based now. You just log into that and you have an app on the phone. It’s beautiful.
Patrick Braswell: Yeah. That’s funny.
Josh Sweeney: Lots of accessibility there.
So as far as space is concerned, I’ve talked about space on this podcast a few times. You guys do the culture assessment, you understand what people are needing in the space. What are some of the surprising trends you’ve seen? What are some numbers that you’ve shared recently that you were surprised by?
Patrick Braswell: Two numbers that we’re really big with right now. One came from a Gallup poll, and it leads into the next one, but almost 70% of employees are not engaged at work in the US, and that causes about $600 billion a year in lost productivity and revenue for companies. That’s a big number.
Space Inspiration on Culture
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely.
Patrick Braswell: So through the 4000 interviews or surveys that we’ve done over the last four years, one of the questions we ask is, “On a scale of one to ten, what would you say space does for inspiring your culture and does it align?”
Anyway, long story short, based on that question, we’ve now seen that 33% of employees feel as though space aligns with their desired company culture, and that’s it. So 33%. That’s incredibly low, and it actually lines up with the engagement number, too. At the heart of it, 32% of your employees are engaged, 33% of your employees think that the space that you’re in actively inspires the culture that you guys want.
Space Affects the Engagement
So what we have seen now is that there’s a correlation between the two. The way space is laid out, the way that it inspires culture and affects the engagement, so much of a company. And as we have re-surveys our clients in the new spaces that we’ve put them in… and we don’t do it right away because there’s always an excitement to the new space, like, “We’re in a new space. This is awesome.” But you wait a year and then you start to do it, and we see that both engagement and inspiring of the brand goes up, which ultimately leads to higher productivity. So those are two numbers that we’ve seen a lot.
I even kind of am scared to bring it up, because I don’t have enough data yet to say that this is the norm, but we’ve got a client now that’s got a significant number of employees, and they’re moving out of a WeWork. They want to move out of a WeWork. And so we asked them the same question, and when we got the answers back, 92% of their employees felt as though WeWork reflected or helped reflect the company culture that they wanted in the space that they were in.
Space and Employee Productivity
But on the back side of that, the productivity of those employees was horrible. I mean, it was closer to the 30% mark of the previous one. So there was almost a flip that WeWorks are inspiring, they’re a cool space. I think what they do is they give you a sense of community, and they have all these great amenity areas and everything else, but they’re a huge distraction from your employees. So I think there’s a lot to learn on how they’ve set up those amenities, how they’ve given you different areas to work other than just your cube or your office, but they have distracted from the employees in there because you’re in a fishbowl and there are so many networking events and so many happy hours and all this other stuff, it becomes a big party and you’re not productive. So if you can take the common areas of the WeWork and put it into your own space, I think you’ll have a home run.
And this will be a great case study as we do this more and more. We’ve moved smaller companies out of WeWorks before, and that’s a different case study. This is the first larger company that we’re moving out of a WeWork into their own space, and we’re really interested to see what the data provides us for that. But just on a very cursory level, it looks like WeWorks has done a great job on the common areas, not so much on the productivity side.
Coworking space Pros and Cons
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. Got you.
Well I mean, I know I’ve worked for multiple different coworking spaces, and sometimes you get those serendipitous interactions, which are nice, and then sometimes you get multiple people that walk up and say hey to you throughout, and it’s like, “Okay, I’ve got to get something done,” and then you go off on a tangent on a conversation, which is good and bad. There are good things that can come of it, there are bad things that can come of it, and I think it depends on the role of the person in the organization and a lot of other factors.
Patrick Braswell: Yes it does.
Josh Sweeney: Whereas for me, I’m running into other entrepreneurs and other situations I think that can move the needle for the business, but I could see how a frontline employee, it could be more of a distraction in certain ways—
Patrick Braswell: It totally, totally is.
Josh Sweeney: If you’re just running into other people that are other frontline folks that it’s a more casual conversation. It’s not a new deal, a new opportunity, whatever it might be.
Patrick Braswell: Yeah. And I would say, when you asked about trends, if I dive into the trends, open office space is a trend, and I think there is a place for an open office environment. It has moved in that direction, it’s starting to pull back, and I do think there’s a combination between the two that can work out.
Job Functions Over Age Generation
But what we’ve really found is that most people will say, “Hey, if you’re a millennial, you want open, cool space. If you’re Gen X, you want a private office. If you’re a Baby Boomer, you want a corner private office with a Scotch in the corner and your own conference table. And we all laugh, and we’re like, “Yeah, there are some generalities to that and that’s probably accurate.”
But what we have found, again, through the 4000 surveys that we’ve done, is that it aligns more with your job function than your actual age. So if you’re a coder and you’re a Gen X coder and you’re a millennial coder, you actually want the same type of space because it’s about your job function, not your age. If you’re a salesperson and you’re a Gen X sales person and a millennial sales person, again, it aligns more to your job function than it does the age of the person. I think that’s something that a lot of companies and people have missed that we have been able to pick up through the data, and then the trend that we’re seeing from that is that you design space to the actual job function, but you do it in an open environment with enough private areas for people to get work done, and then you put those private areas in places that are key to that job function.
So for us, a trend that we see with our clients, it’s more about job function than anything else when it comes to the productivity and the design of the space.
Open Space Trend
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, which is an interesting differentiation, because I know when open space kind of got kicked off as this new trend, being in the sales and marketing software space, the first immediate thought was, “Well, where are you going to put your salespeople?”
Patrick Braswell: Oh yeah. They’re loud on the phone.
Josh Sweeney: I don’t know how this is going to work. I think it was just my role. It was like, based on that role, you can’t put them in there with everybody else. This isn’t going to work. And then the sound travels. They’re like, “We’re going to put them on this corner.” Those other people, I’m like, “Yeah, but they’re on the phone all day!” And some of us are loud. I included. I speak loudly.
Patrick Braswell: I am one of those, too!
Balance in Space
Josh Sweeney: You don’t say, “Huh?” on my phone call. It’s very clear. You understand what’s going on.
Yeah, so interesting way that works out and how it comes full-term. It’s really the balance that you were talking about before. There’s a balance in the space, there’s a balance in the role, like what kind of things are we giving people…
Are there other trends that are happening? We went from lots of closed off spaces, probably the more open space, now we’re pulling back to more role-based space. Any other trends that you’re seeing in office space that seem to be taking over?
Open Space and Collaboration
Patrick Braswell: Yeah, so one thing people ask us a lot is, “Our footprints getting smaller. Our company’s footprint getting smaller, they’re taking less space, because more people are teleworking,” or whatever the case may be. “We’re trying to save money because rents have gone up so much.”
And the answer to that is no, they’re still talking about the same amount of space, but what we’re finding is that the designs are different. So then again, if you do it the right way, it goes back to, yes we may have an open environment, but we’re giving you a ton of different areas to collaborate, to get head-down work done that gives you the coffee bar atmosphere as well. These are things that I think are here to stay, and the well-designed spaces that we have done and that we have seen all kinds of incorporate that.
Day Two Project
So you’re not going, “I need to save money. Rent’s gone up so much you need to cut down on the space, so I’m just going to put everyone in an open environment.” When you do that, you end up having what we call “day two projects”, and you come in and you have to build out more closed spaces, or phone booths, or collaboration areas or whatnot.
As far as trends, if we’re going to look at it in a micro level here in Atlanta, we’re seeing more and more companies that are coming from suburbs and pushing towards the city, which I think has been a trend for a while, but it’s gotten to the point now where these… like Midtown and Buckhead, the rental rates are so much higher than they once were. In Buckhead, they’ve gone up 32% in five years.
Josh Sweeney: That’s a ton.
Patrick Braswell: That’s a ton! In Midtown, they’ve gone up 35% or 36% in five years.
Josh Sweeney: And they’re closing all the free parking down in lots of buildings. I’ve noticed that, too.
Patrick Braswell: Right, and the free parking—
Josh Sweeney: So rent’s going up, free parking’s disappearing, they’re putting up the arms to pay to play, pay to park.
Patrick Braswell: And so the trend that has come of that is that the suburb markets are having to figure out ways to have an epicenter. I think a really good example is up in Alpharetta, Avalon.
Josh Sweeney: Right.
Patrick Braswell: We have put some great technology companies that are recruiting millennials in Avalon, and they’ve had zero issues with recruiting, but I think it’s because they are in an epicenter that you can get out, walk around, and do what you want to do, and then come back to work.
Where we’ve seen it hurt is when you go into the normal five-story suburban building and you’ve got to get out and you drive and you go all over the place, and then you’ve got to come back. It hurts productivity and it hurts the recruitment of what you have.
But the trend is you need to be closer to epicenters, no matter what. Whether you’re in town or you’re outside at the perimeter, if you can office yourself near the epicenter, you will have zero issues with recruiting and retention.
Josh Sweeney: So what are the other epicenters besides Avalon? I’m familiar with Avalon, I go into Buckhead, I go into Midtown a good bit. What are some of the other larger ones that are either… exist or in play?
Patrick Braswell: Peachtree Corners has done a really good job with The Forum, near where we are right now. The buildings that are near Forum, or that you can walk to, you have seen the rental rates go up significantly because of that.
I don’t know if you’ve been to downtown Alpharetta lately.
Few Steps Away
Josh Sweeney: No.
Patrick Braswell: It is awesome.
Josh Sweeney: Okay.
Patrick Braswell: It’s not like a Midtown or Buckhead, but it has a very cool presence. It was a square that you have all this retail around, you have great restaurants that are not Chili’s and Applebee’s, but are unique to Alpharetta. They’re putting in office buildings that are in there as well. We’ve done a couple of deals up there with technology companies that have… The CEO lives near Alpharetta, and it’s a smaller one, but the employees enjoy just the walkability of it. So if you haven’t been to downtown Alpharetta in a while, it’s great.
Roswell and Canton Street is another one. They’ve got a couple of really big developments happening there because, again, of the epicenter.
And then even with The Battery now, up in the Cumberland Galleria, that one is probably the most interesting one to me. The easiest example I can give on what it’s done for the office space around here, we had a law firm client that was paying close to $21 a square foot. And that was at the end of their lease, so that thing had been escalating up by 3% every seven years.
Put Yourself in the Epicenter
When we did their expansion and renewal, and this was right after The Battery happened, it jumped up to almost $29.50 a square foot. So that was an $8 difference. Normally when you have that, people are like, “See you. I cannot stomach paying $8 a more square foot to be in the same space that I’m in.” But because of the epicenter of The Battery, and the cool factor, and all the detail that goes along with it, he had no issues whatsoever.
Josh Sweeney: Nice. Yeah.
Patrick Braswell: So that’s what I’m talking about. If you can put yourself near there, it will help the culture, it will help for a real estate owner, it helps with rents. They understand that. They’re smarter than I am. But that’s kind of what we have seen.
Lime and Scooters
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, so it’s a combination of the space, the different work modes, the role that they play in. We talked about access control and other things that are more efficient now. Then you add in the epicenters, the area that they’re in, and the walkability…
I’m in Buckhead a good bit. Lime and all the scooter companies that litter the streets with the scooters, those are there, but they’re not in another… you can’t go around Gwinnett and find a lot of scooters that are laying around, right?
Patrick Braswell: I mean, besides Peachtree Corners, and I know Gwinnett’s trying to build a Forum-like spot as well.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I think it’s Sugarloaf and 85 that are working on a big project there. And some of those, I don’t know how much new office space is being built, but they are building and growing that out.
Answer to Atlanta’s Traffic
But yeah, I think maybe you’re getting at is all of those things come together for recruiting efforts.
Patrick Braswell: Yes.
Josh Sweeney: For finding talent, for where people want to be, for productivity. You don’t have to get in the car and drive to lunch. If I leave here right now, I have to drive somewhere to go get food. Whereas if I’m at—
Patrick Braswell: Think about how long that takes you, too.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. If I’m at Atlanta Tech Village, I can walk to 10 different places, or I can jump on a Lime right outside and scoot up the road. Which I haven’t tried yet, but I see people do it all the time.
Patrick Braswell: It could be the answer to Atlanta’s traffic. Seriously, man! I mean, if you think about it, a lot of the traffic you have is that we’re so used to our cars. You’re going to get in your car and you’re going to drive five minutes, but I can hop on a scooter and a scooter there… I don’t know, man. That keeps me off the road. I may kill somebody on the sidewalk, but—
Josh Sweeney: Right, right. There are some minimum parking issues there, right? A lot of places, the minimum park is $5, so when you leave, you’ve paid for the time you were there and then it almost resets it. I don’t know if the math works out, but it seems like you could pay more by leaving and coming back for lunch.
Patrick Braswell: Yes! You could!
Josh Sweeney: Is that right?
Patrick Braswell: Yeah, it is.
Josh Sweeney: It sounds right, but—
Patrick Braswell: You also mentioned something else. The parking. The huge issue now in town. Midtown, Buckhead, downtown. Because if you think about it… Let’s take Salesforce, for example. You now have Salesforce tower, and they’re in six or seven floors now, and they pack people in.
Josh Sweeney: Right. So they’re higher density—
Patrick Braswell: Yes.
Josh Sweeney: And parking was built for these structures in the ’80s.
Patrick Braswell: For law firms, right?
Josh Sweeney: Right.
Patrick Braswell: And it’s, like, 450 feet a person.
But then you take it a step further and you put a WeWork in a building, and now they’re putting, call it one person for every 40 square feet.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Patrick Braswell: Not only do the HVAC systems and a bunch of other things within that floor have to change because they were never meant for that density, but the parking is just, it’s crazy.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. Nonexistent.
Patrick Braswell: It’s nonexistent, and so we have clients now that are in Buckhead that, for the first time ever, they’re considering Perimeter, or they’re considering Galleria because there are some epicenters there, but they just can’t park. And they can’t keep telling their people, “Go park at the Hyatt parking deck and walk to Tower Place.”
Scooters, bikes and whatever
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Patrick Braswell: “And oh, by the way, all females are going to get to park in Tower Place, but all males are going to go park in the Hyatt,” and then you’re going, “Oh, well my legal council’s telling me I’m going to get sued by some dude that thinks that his safety is at risk now.” So that’s something the city needs to figure out, and whether it is the scooters or bikes or whatever, it’s going to continue to be an issue in town as more and more people move in town. We are getting denser, but I think, again, that density will let up a little bit as people realize they still need more private areas. Maybe not designated to Josh and Patrick, but more private areas.
But the WeWorks and the Industries, and the spaces with the density they have, they will kill a building’s parking.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah and my immediate thought was, yes your square footage of desk space, the amount of space the cubicle and the side drawers and whatever take up, has shrunk. But then now you’re adding private space, you’re adding more work modes, you’re adding beanbag areas or couch areas or just different ways that people want to work, and you’re taking up the same amount of square footage, but it’s much more efficient in that they get those different work modes that they like. Because some days you want to have a wall in front of you where everybody that walks by, you’re not seeing them through the glass and distracting you, and sometimes you want to be in an open area in a more relaxed chair.
Patrick Braswell: Yeah. That’s right. And TRANSCEND’s space, we’re on the phone a lot. We’ve incorporated a call room that’s purely for calls, and then we’ve incorporated phone booths. And you’ve seen the one phone booth we have—
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I did see your booth.
Patrick Braswell: And we’re going to buy another one—
Phone Booth from Space
Josh Sweeney: I think your phone booth was very spacey-looking. There was something unique about it compared to some of the other phone booths that I’ve seen. I’ve seen legitimate phone booths, like the red phone booth, and then yours was like a capsule or something.
Patrick Braswell: It does kind of look—
Josh Sweeney: I looked at it, I’m like, “This belongs on a spaceship.” It was kind of interesting. I didn’t get to check it out, but it was definitely different.
Transcend Phone Booth
Patrick Braswell: It brings in the air so you’re not hot, so it’s cycling through the air. It’s got plugs in it so you can plug in your computer and your phone. But the outside of it, what we loved, you’ve got the glass door, so you’ve got natural light coming in, but the other three sides of the outside are all whiteboards. And so you can use it as a whiteboard as well. So it’s whiteboard material—
Josh Sweeney: I didn’t feel like it was wide enough to have all that, but I haven’t been in it.
Patrick Braswell: I know! So that aspect of the whiteboard being on the outside of it helps, so if I plop it right in the middle of the area, because our space isn’t that big, but you plop it right in the middle, then you can congregate around it and whiteboard on it.
Josh Sweeney: Interesting. Okay.
Patrick Braswell: So it’s just little things like that. But that booth was once $12000, now they’re down to $3500 as they get better and better at making these things.
Josh Sweeney: Got it.
Patrick Braswell: So it’s a cost alternative that is, in my opinion, not that expensive to put it into space and fix things.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, and I mean, as more people do the trade-off from large cubicle systems to these other things, the price will come down and they’ll have more volume to sell and things like that. Hopefully.
Patrick Braswell: Hopefully. Yes. Well, that’s what we hope.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. Yeah. Or not.
Patrick Braswell: Or not.
Josh Sweeney: We’ll see how that pans out.
Patrick Braswell: Yeah.
Space and Culture
Josh Sweeney: So any other things that you would like to share about culture and space? Things that you see happening, where it’s going, anything that we missed?
Patrick Braswell: I would say if you’re a CEO or COO person out there, and you are really hoping and striving to have a great culture, you have to consider your space and what that does to its culture. You can’t just say, “I’m going to give everybody free beer from 5:00 to 7:00.” That is a perk. That’s not culture. “I’m going to give them free coffee that’s from goats that everyone loves,” all of these local coffee areas. Again, that’s a perk. That is not culture.
Think About what is Really Around Culture
So think about what is really around culture, think about how you want to instill that into your corporation, and then think about how space affects that but more importantly can help it grow and be a way to ignite it. I think the clients that we’ve worked the best with are people that are looking to make a change, meaning they see something in their culture they don’t like, they’re going to try to change it, and they’re using moving into a new space as a kickoff for that.
You don’t have to do that. You can make those changes within your existing space. Those people have taken a serious interest in it and pushed it forward, but they also did things… and you and I talked about this… they did things after that to continue to make sure that that culture was being inspired. So it wasn’t just a, “Hey, we moved into a new space and now we’re done. We’re back to our old ways—”
Catalyst for Change
Josh Sweeney: It’s a catalyst for change across the board.
Patrick Braswell: It’s a catalyst, and then they bring in someone like you that comes in and makes sure that they’re measuring what that is every single year or quarter or however often they’re doing it to make sure it goes forward.
But when I look at the numbers and I go back to just engagement period of the US worker, the number of… 70% are unengaged is awful. And as C-level people, we have to take the blame for that, because we are the leaders of the corporations and we have to really think about what it is that is affecting that. Space is one, but then there are other things as well. And how can we, as leaders, come together, help each other out, but really push forward for people to be engaged? Because if they’re engaged, they’re happier in the house, they’re happier at work, and you will be more profitable.
Make the Change Happen
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. At the end of the day, it’ll make the change happen.
Patrick Braswell: At the end of the day, it’ll make the change happen. And I know you’re all about culture, and that’s what you do, and I applaud you for that because it’s not an easy thing to do. And if you don’t pay attention to it, then your culture’s going to take on the lowest denominator.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Patrick Braswell: It just will, because it’s the easiest to do. And so be intentional about it, is basically what I’ll say.
And for me, be intentional about your space, because then TRANSCEND can make money.
Be Intentional About Your Culture
Josh Sweeney: Right, right. But it has a major impact.
Patrick Braswell: But it has a major impact.
Josh Sweeney: That’s a catalyst for change.
Patrick Braswell: But at the heart of it, just be intentional about your culture.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Josh Sweeney: Well thank you so much for joining us! I appreciate you making the trip.
Patrick Braswell: Josh, thanks for having me, man.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Patrick Braswell: It’s been awesome.
Josh Sweeney: Have a great day.
Patrick Braswell: Thank you.
Speaker 1: Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the Epic Company Culture podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoyed this content, please subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud, or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit epicculture.co. If you have questions or topics you would like us to address or expand on, tweet us at epicculture1 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Podcast Highlights and Resources
- Consider your space and what that does to its culture.
- Think about what is really around culture, think about how you want to instill that into your corporation, and then think about how space affects that, but more importantly can help it grow and be a way to ignite it.
- At the heart of it, just be intentional about your culture.
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