It’s always been clear to me the work environment plays a key role in the care and feeding of people who are required to produce creative solutions for a living. Work spaces not only need to provide for all the regular ergonomic needs but I believe that it plays a huge role in fueling the creative professional as well.
The right workspace is designed to inspire, attract and retain.
I orchestrated environments and experiences to fuel the creative needs of the team including a touch lab, a maker lab and a secret hideaway disguised as a server room and a 2200 square foot design studio.
The Server Room
By far, the most influential and popular aspect of the environment I designed at Citrix is the custom-built server room. But, it’s not just any ordinary server room. It was expressly built to power creativity.
The server, visible from behind a secure window is accessible by a keypad entered secret code known only by the design team.
Visitors are invited to enter this server room to experience its creative generating power only under the strict agreement that we can not be held responsible for any disorientation or euphoria they may experience ;). Only at this point will a member of the design team enter the password into the keyboard of this enormous, wall-sized machine replete with vintage computer tape reels and blinking lights to “fire it up”. As they do, the wall supporting the keyboard and monitor gives way, and allows entry into a dark environment of Moroccan themed lanterns, red embossed walls, an amazing tin ceiling, hand crafted floor to ceiling dark wood panels, bookshelves filled with mementos and curious objects, a fragrance that at once smells a cross between ancient tobacco and exotic coffee and the sound of crickets one eventually notices. This place is timeless and disorientating. Exactly the environment prescribed to induce right brain creative thought. There’s nothing in this room to give you any indication of the passing of time; another hallmark of right brain activity, timelessness. There are curious objects including a 1940 Bakelite television that has a switch atop it giving you the choice of “yesterday or today” (yesterday supplies an endless loop of 1940 movies, today switches to a closed circuit view of the locked door to see who’s trying to gain access) and there’s the large glass jar of little monkeys. Guests are encouraged to take a monkey as they leave (after they sign the server room log book) to remind them to have fun! I noticed that these little monkeys served a second purpose. Showing up in workspaces as mementos of visits, other visitors of the server room see those little critters and an unspoken bond is created with a wink toward the monkey. Just like in the movie Fight Club, the first rule is…
Perhaps my real first rule is, know your staff and anticipate what your folks need to be successful. As they are charged with delighting customers, my charge is to delight them.
Welcome to The Server Room
This place feeds creativity
We are committed to providing designers with the tools they need to do the best work possible. This is one of them.
New studies have revealed that breakthrough creative thinking, those “ah-ha” moments require the mind to be in situations out of the ordinary. Places that restrict normal awareness of the passage of time, places that encourage serendipitous encounters. Welcome to that place.
Sit down, relax, be still and just be. You’ll leave this place feeling renewed and perhaps a bit disoriented when you reemerge.
What did this cost?
For less than the cost of a department offsite, recruiter fees for a couple of high octane world class hires, and the cost of building the reputation (that is already spreading) that Citrix gets “it” and does what it takes to support the creative process… we got all that. And, it will continue to give that for years to come at no additional cost.
Who else has something like this?
Absolutely NO ONE!
How does it feel to be part of a company that’s on the bleeding edge? Sit down and meditate on that now.
The closest example would actually be Pixar. They stumbled upon this concept a few years ago by accident but we think we’re the first to actually do it on purpose.
This place is the domain of the Product Design Team. You are welcome here.
Want to visit again? Grab a member of the PD Team and have them let you in.
The Server Room is the brain child of Citrix Creative Director Brian Moose. Brian is passionate about replenishing the fuel creative people need to do their jobs. This room and a few other creative enabling environments around Citrix are his doing. Beware.
This room was custom designed and hand built by local artisans. The majority performed by Suna Lock of Stripe Design who designed, coordinated and furnished the room (stripedesigngroup.com) and master woodworker Jake Lewis (jake-design.com) who solo handcrafted all the wood furnishing, shelving, casework and fake server wall. It’s truly lovely isn’t it?
No scheduled meetings
No booking this as a meeting room
No whiteboarding. Don’t even try to wheel one of those in here.
No keeping track of time
Yes, hang out and just be
Yes, have a beverage
Yes, sketch and doodle
Yes, read a book
Yes, relax, wait for someone else to come in and have a spontaneous conversation. Imagine that.
The Citrix Design Studio
Inspired by the Stanford d.school‘s open, collaborative design space, the design studio provides 2200 sq. ft. of open space where team members from multiple disciplines come together to share ideas, iterate, and innovate. Everything in the space—tables, whiteboards, comfy chairs and couches—is modular and completely customizable, allowing teams to adapt on the fly, and shape their workflows in real time as work happens.
The space is low-tech by design, filled with markers, sticky notes, and every quick-and-dirty prototype material under the sun—from construction paper to pipe cleaners. It’s also intentionally designed to be unbook-able, since no one can “schedule” innovation. The casualness of the space puts people in the right frame of mind to go outside of their traditional comfort zones and build stronger relationships with teammates. Even the most analytical team members can’t help but sketch their thoughts and ideas on the table whiteboards while they sit and chat.
The design studio is an example of how a nontraditional workspace can foster collaboration, enable new modes of communication, and improve the quality of the products we produced for customers. Instead of preaching the merits of collaboration and working across teams, it just started happening. Teams that were typically “collaborating” in cubes via email and instant message were now emerging from their cubes and meeting in the design space to truly collaborate. They would leave their computers behind and gather around a whiteboard to ideate and draw concepts. People were ideating, prototyping and experimenting without being told because the space fostered the right behavior.
The Touch Lab
Living in and designing for the virtual world provides little reminder to address the need for tactile input. I installed tactile functional art pieces that everyone interacts with daily.
The Touch Lab provides a unique, circular, tactile meeting space for discussions, exhibitions and inspiration. Materials are exhibited to talk about brand and other topics where words alone fall short.
A wall of hundreds of vintage keys in a pattern pointing toward the Design Studio is an impressive visual that greets everyone as they exit the elevator. It’s a reminder of the power of individuals in all shapes, sizes, age and history, working together to make something really inspiring. It’s also a great opportunity to deputize visitors into the culture. Visitors are invited by their hosts to pick out a key to take with them. Each is tagged with a delightful little aluminum Citrix logo providing a physical reminder of their experience with Citrix.
The Maker Lab
The maker movement is alive and growing. It was clear that Citrix needed tools to get folks to adopt the values of innovation, challenge design convention, break and rebuild processes and be inspired in the process; the very values of the maker movement. To get the ball rolling, I set up a small maker lab and initiated classes in 3D printing. We even initiated a process to allow folks in other offices to participate too with remote access to the printer and a live camera to watch the progress.