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The changing American workplace, AgileThought, and design

Megan Holmes

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The American workforce is changing rapidly – and the spaces in which we work matter more than they once did. The traditional 9 to 5 in a stuffy corporate office no longer appeals to millennial workers seeking a sense of belonging and purpose from their employer. While the tools we use in the workplace have drastically changed, many of the physical spaces in which we work have not kept up.

In a highly competitive hiring market, businesses with traditionally hierarchical office settings where spontaneous communications are stymied (think big corner offices and stale cubicles) are losing. Both young and old are beginning to prefer trendy co-working spaces and flexible, remote workspace options. But not every company can or should buy in to the remote working trend. Many businesses need teamwork and collaboration to succeed.

So how can companies keep the workplace alive? The answer is intentionality.

The Pointe, headquarters of AgileThought on Rocky Point,

Tech behemoths like Facebook, Google and Apple pioneered the creation of tech campuses that keep employees happy, while fostering an environment for growth and collaboration at the same time. But these tech giants aren’t the only ones innovating the workplace.

AgileThought, a local custom software and consulting company, has firmly rooted its methodology into its physical space. The AgileThought headquarters sits on the tip of Rocky Point in Tampa, and there provides employees with panoramic views of the bay.

A strong employee culture permeates the fabric of the office. There are no C-suite offices; those were knocked out when AgileThought moved in. The intentionally open floor plan creates a sense of collaboration. In one specific project area, desks are clumped together in cross-functional working groups (each with its own name, chosen by the members), and sticky-notes cover the walls with tasks to be completed by team members.

In other areas, open seating is encouraged at desk space or in the dining areas. The walls themselves are whiteboards, used to sketch out plans for the week, and most interior walls are transparent, movable, and collapsible. The walls shift to create open workspaces, or close up into conference rooms or offices for Agile-specific meetings like sprint planning, retrospective reviews or small group work.

AgileThought employees in sprint planning.

According to a Harvard Business Review study, well-designed workplaces that encourage communication, chance encounters and collaboration – like AgileThought – win out both in the battle for talent and the bottom line.

“Chance encounters and unplanned interactions between knowledge workers, both inside and outside the organization, improves performance,” wrote the study’s authors.

And that assertion isn’t based on anecdotal evidence. According to the study, “when a salesperson increased interactions with coworkers on other teams – that is, increased exploration – by 10 percent, his or her sales also grew by 10 percent.”

They know this, because they tested it. A pharmaceutical company profiled in the study intentionally redesigned the office by rearranging the kitchen and coffee stations in its office. Instead of having one coffee machine for every six employees, the company invested in larger coffee stations to cover more employees (120 employees to each station), to increase the chances of socialization and interaction.

Leadership of Agile Thought: (left to right) Ryan Dorrell, David Romine, Jeff Alagood and John Wagner.

“In the quarter after the coffee-and-cafeteria switch,” the study cites, “sales rose by 20 percent, or $200 million, quickly justifying the capital investment in the redesign.”

AgileThought is a local example of a company which follows the principle of intentionality in its workspace, and has scaled the company as a result. Since its founding in 2004, the company has grown at a breakneck speed. In 2011, the company grew 100 percent year over year. In 2018, it was named to the Inc. 5000 list for the 11th consecutive time. Most recently, it expanded operations into Atlanta and Orlando.

Over the last three years, AgileThought has attained 169 percent revenue growth. It has also been named by various publications, including Fortune, Inc., and Florida Trend, as one of the “50 Best Workplaces for New College Grads,” “20 Great Workplaces in Tech,” and one of the “Best Companies to Work For.

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