When you’re tasked with solving some of the world’s most complex problems, designing cloud-based software for some of the world’s largest fleets, car and truck makers, you need office space that helps you do your best work.
In the name of science, we thought it was worth evaluating the effect of changing an engineer’s environment. With over 130 smarty-pants engineers to choose from here in Christchurch, we picked two of our brightest to boldly accept what would be a grueling challenge.
The results would help us define our new work environment, to be housed in a purpose-built 4-story office in Victoria Street.
Little did we know that a very special guest would also be unwittingly part of our unique experiment.
Office space – A scientific approach
Obviously we weren’t the first to sport a white coat and study a software engineer’s working environment. Companies like Google have been doing it for years. Their ‘casual collisions’ building design philosophy is the result of a significant amount of research, which is not surprising for a company that, in their own words, tries to bring as much analytics and data and science to what [they] do. They even vetoed the color purple because the data said so.
We applaud what Google has done but we didn’t want to be too strictly constrained by cold, unfeeling data. We wanted to bring the human element back and test our hypothesis in a more qualitative manner.
While we took a less than conventional approach to the experiment we still followed the standard scientific approach of asking a question (‘does work space have an impact on an engineer’s output?’), doing background research (‘six years of our old office in Birmingham Drive’), constructing a hypothesis (‘bright, new spaces make engineers happy’), testing it and then drawing a conclusion.
Setting up the experiment – Creating the control
To know the actual impact of our experimental space we needed to create a control environment for our experiment. Essentially we went with a standard cubicle.
Our hardy test subject, Carl, ventured inside and we hooked him up to measure his vitals. The results were disturbing.
Endorphins were down, brain activity almost slowed to a halt and Midi-Chlorians took a massive hit. Bugs in the software were up, as were tension levels and general discontent.
Our test subject struggled to remain in the state-of-the-art test environment for the required eight hours but stuck it out, not wanting to hinder the integrity of this ground-breaking experiment.
Testing the new work space
Now the real fun began. We built a new office space in the heart of Christchurch. Four floors of bright, light and fun-filled work spaces. Walls with 50-inch screens running Raspberry Pis, coffee bars with cafe-standard espresso machines, a fully-featured kitchen and complimentary catered lunches, imaginative break-out areas, intriguing wall designs and striking vistas across Christchurch city and Hagley Park to the West.
How would our test subject fare under these new conditions?
True to our hypothesis, our engineer not only worked to an all-new level of general awesomeness but there were also recorded instances of smiling, laughing and other indicators of what our scientists could only describe as happiness.
The results were almost too good to be true. So we tested them again. With all 130 engineers. For five weeks. We even had John Key, the prime minister of New Zealand, test it and he’s decided not to return to the Beehive. The country will now be run from 104 Victoria Street.
Happy to report that the results were legitimate, verified and confirmed many times over – the new office space was a success. And signed off with a very scientific thumbs up from our crowd of testers.
Trouble is, the new space was so good we couldn’t get the testers to go home after the experiment was over. Just as well we need plenty of engineers. In fact, if you’d like to be part of this very real human experiment in happy workplaces, visit careers.telogis.com and sign up!