When we sent our employees home for a couple of weeks on March 13, 2020, we never imagined two weeks would turn into 15 months. For the first couple of months, the phrase “Just a couple more weeks” seemed to get us through that never ending tunnel, until we finally realized, this could be the way of life for a very long time.
As we collected feedback from our team during this past year, two things stood out to us. First, our team can work from anywhere and still do a tremendous job. Secondly, everyone felt that communication between team members had improved since working remotely. The meetings proved to be more structured and defined and everyone seemed more cognizant of each other’s time.
The realization that working from home is not only doable but ideal for many of our team members has been eye opening and pretty revolutionary. We went from a local, tight-knit organization where everyone worked from 9-5 in an office, to a fully distributed team overnight and really didn’t miss a beat.
Since working remotely proved successful, we figured why not explore talent all over the country? We added a few more team members from states outside of Vermont including New York, Florida, Minnesota, Texas, and Virginia. We are excited to introduce them to everyone very soon!
In May 2021, it became clear that the time to reopen the office doors was approaching, so we began to consider what the office life will look like post-pandemic. The changes we made over the last year presented new developments to take into consideration. Re-opening wasn’t going to be as simple as sending off a quick email, demanding everyone to come back.
Between the high approval rating given to remote work, and the new employees we hired from all over the country, it was clear not everyone would be returning to the office like before. What will collaboration look like with in-person/remote meetings?
- First and foremost, taking the time to check in with our employees and assess their desires and expectations before re-opening the doors was essential. We decided to send out a survey in order to gauge the number of employees we could expect back to the office, how they felt about the vibe of our current space, and what their ideal schedule would look like once the doors reopen.
- Once we received the feedback from our survey, we began to think about how we could best utilize our office. In order to make the best of our space we identified the things that make it unique to working from home:
- Collaboration – no matter how advanced video conferencing has become, there is nothing quite like meeting in person.
- Socializing – this is the thing our team members miss about working in the office the most. Seeing different faces every day, walking in and saying “Good morning,” and eating lunch with coworkers has been greatly missed over the past year.
- Focus Space – it’s crucial to some to have that work/life balance and for many that means leaving work at work and making home a place to unwind. Therefore, having a balance in the office between a collaborative work environment and spaces to focus was very important to us.
After a few weeks of re-envisioning the space and moving furniture, our office was prepped for the people! Here’s the outcome:
It was clear to us that the lobby had to be dedicated as the social space we were looking for. We sectioned it off into two spaces. The entrance with a nice seating area for casual discussion and the “sports bar” where we moved our ping pong table and bar table as a break location.
Our goal is to create a welcoming and open environment that people will instantly recognize when they get off the elevator. We purchased several plants to help set a good vibe all around the office but especially in the Lobby.
The Library is technically in the Lobby, however, it is very clearly sectioned off. It’s a cozy location to get your work done.
The Library is located directly in front of the elevator entrance but blocked off by one of our wall dividers.
Ironically, if you decide to work in the Library, you may need to be prepared for a bit of noise. The Library is meant to be used as a workspace but might also be used to quickly access a social setting.
The Space Room
The space room is one of our two dedicated working or focus rooms. We were able to fit 5 desks safely as well as about a dozen space posters on the walls.
The space room was previously home to our technical support team. While ironically, the two people featured in this image are support engineers, Hannah and Declan, this room is now available to anyone who claims it, including Disco (Jay’s Black Lab).
This room is located in the back half of the third floor, right above the Burton Store. Behind this room, we have our next room, the Blue Room.
The Blue Room
The Blue Room is the second dedicated working/focus room. We were able to fit four desks comfortably and safely in there as well as a dog bed. The blue room is located behind the Space Room and right next to the kitchen.
The Conference Room
The Conference Room is dedicated to meetings. It is located in the back of the building and used to be home to our ping pong table.
We moved our (very heavy) glass table from the Lobby to this space as well as a TV and couch. This is a great location to give presentations in as well as a good breakout room when team members need to meet during the day.
It’s also the perfect space to have our company meetings. Our goal is to try to keep our remote employees as connected and included as possible. This space allows plenty of room for team members to meet in person and the television will allow us to cast our remote employees on the big screen so it’s like they’re in the office with us.
Life at Bytes.co has changed pretty drastically after the pandemic. The good news is, most of these changes are for the better:
- We found ways to communicate with each other more effectively and efficiently than we ever had in person.
- The ability to search for talent outside of Vermont has opened so many doors and introduced us to some incredible people.
- We had the chance to rethink our office space and the transition has been awesome. We are very proud of the improvements we have made.
- Lastly, we bought a lot of plants! Nothing boosts morale or brings a little life to an office than several large plants 🙂