Catalysts has been growing organically for 12 years. As I’ve already described in “Living With Just Two Constraints”, we had to move to larger offices every 2-3 years, initially in our first hometown Linz, but later in Vienna and in Cluj as well.
Life might be easier if all colleagues worked in one location. But our reality is that we go where the talents and our customers are, which means that Catalysts has offices in several cities.
Since we intend to stay in an office for a couple of years and since we keep growing by around 30% per year, we need approximately twice as much space when we move into a new office. Over time all that space is filled up – which reminds us that we should start looking for another office…
Each building is different. Hence every floor plan is different. So, naturally, our current offices (Linz / Vienna / Cluj) all look differently. Actually we don’t even want our offices to look alike. It is fully fine that they are different. We just try to make best use of the individual building situation.
Space is an Enabler or an Obstacle
During my professional life, I’ve worked in a couple of different settings and I’ve seen many more. Some offices looked nice but were dysfunctional. Others wouldn’t catch your eye but were effective, i.e. allowed the people to collaborate well and get their work done productively.
There are a few things that we don’t have in our offices:
- We don’t have corner offices for the CEOs – we don’t have hierarchies at Catalysts, not in our minds and also not on the floor plan. So no individual offices for anyone.
- We don’t have a reception with a receptionist since we don’t have walk-in customers.
- We don’t have a telephone system and telephones installed on each desk – we work with mobile phones and the internet.
Here is what we strive to achieve:
- Calm offices – because we are all knowledge workers with often tough challenges.
- Enough meeting rooms (several small ones, a few larger ones) – to allow for the requisite privacy for certain conversations and to reduce distractions for uninvolved people.
- A large area to gather all people from a location
- Flexibility – every Catalyst should be able to get into any Catalysts office, sit down at a desk and be able to start working immediately
- Individualism – allow for some individualism and respect if some colleagues change or rearrange their surroundings
- Be visual – make good use of office walls, e.g. hang up posters, etc. to trigger casual conversation about our experiences and projects when we walk through our offices with visitors
From our experience, there are a few prerequisites and learnings that I’d like to share:
- Rooms rather than open space: Keep the offices small enough. 6 people per room are no problem, 10 can be fine, the more it gets, the higher the default noise level.
- Standard equipment on each desk (display, power connector, network connector)
- Large enough desks so that people can comfortably sit next to each other in front of one screen for pair working.
- A few spare chairs in each room to allow for spontaneous pair working – just grab a chair, sit down, and collaborate.
- Well-functioning IT infrastructure (network, WIFI, VPN, etc.) – no need to ask for a WIFI password if you travel to another location; all company resources are accessible from all locations.
Let’s have a look!
Our office in Linz is the largest with 1,600 m² on three floors: photo gallery from the Open Day 2017
Our office in Vienna is next with 430 m² (the next one to grow): photo gallery from the Open Day 2016
Our office in Cluj is the newest with around 400 m², with the largest rooms and glass wall separators: photo gallery