DESIGNER DISH: Creating a Flexible Office Culture with Modsy

Our modular Toby sectional (in Aegean Structured Cloth) is a perfect fit for Modsy’s ever-evolving office.

Our friends at Modsy — makers of virtual room design software — take the words “flexible office culture” pretty seriously. To help keep their team nimble in a fast-moving startup culture, they change their seating chart every quarter — that’s why they chose our modular Toby design. Of course, there’s more to good office design than changing floor plans. Their Director of Style Alessandra Wood shares more below.

Alessandra Wood is Modsy’s Head of Style.

Why change seats quarterly?

The quarterly seat change is about leaning in to change. At a startup, everything is constantly changing, and you need to be comfortable with change in order to keep up. The seating change is about keeping us from being creatures of comfort, but it also allows new working relationships to develop. As we work on new projects, the teams we each work closest with might change, and the seating rearrangement takes this into consideration. The good thing about constantly changing seats is that no one person is stuck with the worst seat forever. The change is a heated topic of debate, though, as some people love it and others would prefer to stay put.

 

How do you plan each seat change?

We use Modsy to set our initial floor plan and then any time we need to rearrange furniture. We think about energy and working relationships and try to cluster people who work closely into horseshoe shapes. This allows a person to turn over their shoulder and ask a quick question and fosters small deskside meetings/working sessions. We also try to incorporate enough walkways (though we are historically bad at this) to ensure someone isn’t constantly walking behind you.

 

What other ways do you create an office environment that inspires mental agility?

We try to create different work environments, both in conference rooms and communal work spaces. Some are very loungey, like where we used the Toby sofa, a place where people can comfortably sit and work in a relaxed environment. Then there’s a “quiet room” where you can go when you need silence to work. And we have pairs of chairs throughout the office for quick one-on-one conversations.

We also created an internal office committee to survey the team about what they want in an office and how they work best. The committee then came up with a design plan that answers the particular needs and culture of Modsy. Some of the results include standing desks, a work from home policy, and in-office yoga.

 

You were Modsy hire number one. How have things changed during your tenure?

My first summer at Modsy we took weeks and weeks to put together designs for our beta customers and every single step was a manual process. Now we have our own software, a scaled process, and a network of interior designers that work with us. How did we do it? We hired an amazing team of people with individual expertise and diverse backgrounds who could see the vision, and we all worked really hard together to build the product, process, and technology. Of course, there were a ton of bumps along the way. When you’re building something that doesn’t exist, you have to improvise and iterate. Nothing is ever really perfect or done, which means it feels like your work is never finished.

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