Tag Archives: future of work

Our New World of Work

At Hickok Cole, we believe in the power of the office to unite, motivate, and inspire. Beginning this month, we’re initiating our phased transition back to the physical workplace—this time in our new NoMa headquarters near Union Market. The irony of designing and constructing our new workplace while working remotely is not lost on us. But it did present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine how we work while incorporating WFH lessons learned in real-time. Through discovery sessions with leadership, team workshops, and staff surveys, our designers created an environment that represents who we are and serves where we’re going. With a fresh perspective and a renewed appreciation for our firm culture, we look forward to exploring our new world of work and a return to togetherness. Welcome to the new Hickok Cole HQ.

How we focus

As challenging as the pandemic was, remote work taught us a lot about how we work and in what conditions we thrive. While we missed being surrounded by colleagues, for some of us, the ability to tackle focus work without interruption proved highly conducive for our productivity. In consolidating staff from across three floors into one open studio, we knew acoustics would be a major concern. This drove the incorporation of reservable and impromptu focus rooms of all shapes and sizes to accommodate heads down and group work without disrupting the rest of the office. In our studio space, the sawtooth ceiling features acoustical panels designed to absorb sound (in addition to show-stopping skylights). Combined with soft surfaces on our workstations, flexible soft seating, and white noise throughout, the space is well-equipped to maximize creativity while minimizing distractions.

How we collaborate

As designers, we know how crucial the support and expertise of our peers can be. Our new open studio blends service and market expertise across the floor to expose staff to a variety of people, projects, and experiences to keep them inspired. Along the perimeter, several touch-down spaces provide teams the flexibility to discuss and observe project work away from the restrictions of their desks. These spaces are designed to encourage impromptu conversation and provide a visual representation of the collaboration we craved during the pandemic. Through a combination of digital and physical display boards, project work can be prominently featured or pinned up for review—increasing the cross-pollination of ideas, exposing teams to new techniques, and showcasing how each individual team contributes to our mission to do work that matters.

How we connect

The office is a platform for ideas to collide and a place to learn and grow, but it’s also a community. In response to our new hybrid work policies, we amplified our creative, home-grown culture through intentional touchpoints that support bringing people together both in the office and from home. With the thoughtful integration of video conferencing technologies, wifi, and charging stations throughout the office, hybrid teams of all sizes have what they need to work seamlessly. And for the in-person gatherings we love—like our annual Art Night, lunches with colleagues, and weekly staff happy hours—the design team incorporated a platform stage inspired by our old space, a flexible cafe with bar and banquet seating, and a new private terrace. While we’ll miss the memories of our Georgetown stoop, we know the opportunity to forge new ones in NoMa are tenfold.

Come see for yourself.

Connect with Director of Business Development Laura Roth to schedule your tour. Can’t wait to host you in our new home!

Small Towns, Big Ideas: Coworking Trends for Post-Pandemic Success

Much like the rest of the world, the coworking industry had a tumultuous 2020. Coming off the heels of WeWork’s collapse in 2019, it entered straight into a pandemic that didn’t exactly welcome strangers working in close quarters. But, over a year later, with vaccine rollouts moving at warp speed, coworking’s future is bright once again. The pillars that make up the original model – community, flexibility, and convenience – are exactly what the workforce is seeking in their return to the physical. In fact, according to CBRE, 82% of companies will favor buildings that offer flexible office space and shared meeting space, especially as they test out long-term hybrid work policies.

That’s not to say coworking won’t look different upon our return. The original model provided tenants a standard set of amenities designed to appeal to a wide audience, a catch-all strategy that didn’t consider industries requiring more tailored solutions. This next generation addresses what the modern workforce craved throughout the pandemic and accelerates the trends driving coworking well before: hyper-niche, hyper-curated spaces that attract and cater to targeted tenant types.

Communities seeing some of the most exciting new offerings are smaller markets like Richmond responding to the ongoing influx of mobile workers and creative talent migrating out of major cities. Our local team of coworking experts – Studio Director, Jessica Zullo, NCIDQ, IIDA, Senior Designer, Patrick Gegen, and Interior Designer, Jordan Camp, IIDA – share some of the trends and providers helping shape the post-pandemic flexible office landscape in RVA.

The Home Grown Hero

Beyond serving as office space, coworking is leaning hard into its ability to foster a sense of belonging within communities, seeking to expand opportunities for member bonding outside of the 9-5 window – especially for those new to the area. Convenience, inspirational design, and dynamic programming that serve member interests are key. At Gather, the Richmond-based coworking platform, each location pays homage to the city with design details specific to the individual neighborhood and its history. Programming caters to their membership of start-ups and entrepreneurs while engaging with the community through cross-promotion of local brands or Richmond-based services. Some examples include headshots by a local photographer or pop-up gallery events that feature local artists and provide a unique venue for members to meet with clients.

The Social Club

Following a year (or what feels like decades) in near isolation, many are anxious to make up for lost time. Richmond’s Common House, a local gathering and social hub, offers a coworking model emphasizing exclusivity on top of convenience and shared interests. Their members-only cultural experiences are designed for entertainment – spa and fitness services, wine tastings, live music, fine dining – all offered under one roof. These curated environments act as third places for both business and social pursuits, injecting creativity and lifestyle into the work experience to expose clients and colleagues to an additional layer of brand identity, status, and personality.

The Test Kitchen

Though essential to a typical coworking environment, the standard combo of open office, private huddle rooms, and shared conference amenities overlook the needs of entire industries – industries whose membership would benefit from specialty tools, technology, and spaces they don’t bear the brunt to finance and maintain. One of our favorite new examples is food hall, Hatch Local at The Current, a Richmond-based residency program catering to a rotation of food and beverage startups under one roof. Off the heels of a pandemic that made the restaurant industry particularly vulnerable, this coworking concept allows up-and-coming chefs and entrepreneurs to conduct market research and gather intel from consumers in a high-traffic area before committing to a retail front of their own. Members also have access to a commercial kitchen, office, and storage space as well as mentorship and advisory opportunities.

The Impact Incubator 

Beyond physical resources, the networking and mentorship opportunities available in a coworking environment grow ten-fold when offered among like-minded professionals. At the Collaboratory of Virginia (CVA), nonprofit organizations work alongside each other in a neutral shared space designed to facilitate innovation and collaboration among members and prioritize efficient use of networks and resources. In addition to receiving consultation or mentorship, members benefit from the exchange of information and experiences of others within a shared community which helps build stronger platforms by uniting support around similar causes.

The Frequent Flier

Remote work has granted us an unprecedented level of flexibility – in our schedules, our furniture, and just about every inch of our lives. Untethered to our desks, we can work from anywhere, in our beds or at the beach. Even as we return to the physical workplace, that level of independence remains of paramount importance and some professionals will maintain the transient habits they’ve grown accustomed to. To accommodate those workers, we anticipate a greater need for coworking locations that offer daily or even hourly rates for drop-in guests.

On-demand services like LiquidSpace, connect professionals directly with a temporary desk or office space in the city of their choosing, including our fan favorite, Gather. This agile model serves mobile professionals with tasks that require focus like participating in an interview or when they need specific tools like photocopiers. Even workers who do have a designated office space may look for a third-space or touch-down location for off-site collaboration or retreats. Finally, short-term rentals allow coworking brands to capture unleashed space while exposing them to a new set of clientele, ones that could easily convert to long-term members down the line. Because now we know that so long as there’s Wi-Fi, nothing can stand in our way.