Company Culture, Wellbeing
Why we love Propellernet HQ
Before joining Propellernet this year, I had worked in a variety of somewhat questionable office environments: think broom-cupboard sized rooms, dodgy carpets from the seventies, headache-inducing strip lighting, and those cubicle desks that prevent you from looking at anything other than your screen. In one particular workspace I was afforded the luxury of a desk right by the window… unfortunately said window was blocked by a wall. I literally used to look up the weather before I took my lunchbreak. #scenic
My first impressions of the Propellernet office were basically: ‘This is nicer than my own home. Can I live here?’. I think a lot of my colleagues have had similar thoughts, although perhaps they haven’t felt the urge to move in. Saying that, we do have showers onsite.
The guests and visitors that use our space are also very complementary about it, so it’s not just employee bias (or Stockholm Syndrome). One comment that really struck me was from business advisor Julia Chanteray, who said that our office ‘really helped to inspire people to action’ after she hosted an away day here. It got me thinking about the spaces we occupy and the effect they have on us: on our moods, our behaviour, our productivity, our creativity, our happiness.
The relationship between office design and human performance, health and wellbeing has been studied extensively. Put simply, a well-designed space is essential if you want a highly engaged and enthusiastic workforce (and really, what company doesn’t want that?). But this means more than hanging some cool prints on the wall or chucking some bean bags in your boardroom. You need to consider how your employees work, what they value and what they need. And, as so many of us are able to work from home now, you’ve got to give people a reason to want to show up to the office in the first place.
Propellernet has done all of that and more. Founders, Jack Hubbard and Jim Jensen, appreciate that we are 60 individual people, spread across different teams and focusing on varying projects, and all with unique working styles. Before any decisions about office design are made, Propellernet employees are consulted to see what they want and need in order to work smartly and productively, in maximum comfort.
As a result of this, the Propellernet HQ is currently a mix of open-plan desks and private office spaces. There are cosy breakout areas, multiple boardrooms and meeting areas, secret soundproof rooms for private calls, and ‘ideas’ rooms where post-it notes litter the walls. There’s also a wellbeing room and yes, it has beanbags in it – and yoga mats. People exercise in there but it’s also great if you’ve had a busy day and are looking for a bit of head space.
If you need peace and quiet to work on a project, you can find that. If you want chatting and laughter, you can find that too. Hot desking is easy to do and is encouraged, but equally everyone has a desk to call their own. It’s completely flexible: you can choose the right work space for you based on the task at hand, so the balance between individual focus and collaboration is spot on. The space also allows for a good balance between work and play. By that I mean we have a bar on the first floor, with a beer tap so we can serve ourselves sustainably brewed bevvies from our mates Crafted Crate.
Then it’s down to the little details. There are enough plants in the building for me to confidently call it a botanist’s paradise. We have a wall of fame where we share our best poses/pouts and our favourite life mottos, and the reception desk is actually a repurposed waltzer – definitely a focal point for guests. The interiors are smooth, sleek and modern; style is certainly not sacrificed for functionality. It’s homely, it’s a place you want to hang out in. It inspires us every day and means we can do great work for our clients. There’s also a lot of natural light (I’ve moved up in the world).
And the best part is that we don’t want to just keep it to ourselves, which is why we share our space: with friends, with old colleagues, with clients and with local businesses. The first floor feels a bit like your favourite local cafe, where freelancers can drop by to get a few hours’ work done or run ideas by other people – except our coffee is on the house. And we want it to continue to spread the love, which is why we’re having a little revamp. Welcome to The Foundry: a place for collaboration, innovation and ideas sharing (and caring!). Watch this space.