T3 is located in Boston, MA, right on the harbor in the Innovation District. They have an awesome office which is known as the T3 Innovation Studio. One of the things we love at Robin is an awesome office. And we love to learn about how they came to be, which is why we asked Greg Hoffmeister and Jon Frisch, Managing Director and Vice President respectively, to give us a tour and answer some questions. Come along with us in this recap of what we saw and learned. We think you’ll enjoy this as much as we did.
At a glance
- 5,000 square ft office space
- Steelcase furnishings
- Residents of the innovation studio
- Three conference rooms, three call rooms, one restaurant-style booth
- Untethered seating for over 50 people
- Moved from traditional space in Waltham
- Converted to the untethered, nomadic/mobile work style
It’s not just T3 employee’s utilizing this open and well-designed space, others benefit too. It’s not a coworking space specifically but, as Greg says, part lab, part incubator, part gathering place. “We have a couple of founding teams working out of here as their first office and then we have some investors (Boston Seed, Resolute.vc, Seed) that work and hold meetings here when they are in Boston..” Jon jumps in: “The common thread is about just being around other folks that are in the innovation community. It helps us better understand our clients when we can observe first hand some of the challenges these companies are dealing with on a daily basis.” In agreement, Greg states, “I see it as the future of work. You can use the coworking term or whatever you want, but this is about being smart with the utilization of space and intelligently infusing energy into the workplace. We’ve created a community made up of several different companies working in harmony. It’s been so successful. Especially the energy level. It’s really fun to watch them all do their thing.”
Where they do the work
With multiple venues to conduct work, T3’s space feels casual while serious at the same time. There is a restaurant-style booth, multiple meeting rooms, and many other spaces to facilitate collaborative meetings. We asked if they prefer to work in certain spots in the office, despite how easy it is to jump from place to place. “I feel more comfortable moving all around,” Greg affirms before Jon chimes in, agreeing. Greg explains further: “I’ve gotten to the point where I really don’t want to be in one place all day’. I’ll be at the standing desk for the morning, and then later in the day I’ll move my stuff over to the bar in the cafe. I’m mobile everyday, all day. In general though, most people will find a place for the day and that’s where they work.” This of course doesn’t’ mean that they’ll still be in the same place the day after. “It varies person to person,” Jon adds.
A big fan of Steelcase, the furniture at T3 does standout along with many other design features. Just take how wide the entrance way is. “We knew we didn’t want to have a traditional gatekeeper, so you’ll notice there’s no receptionist, no reception desk. We just wanted people to have a different experience when they first came to T3,” Greg says. “To your left there are two similarly sized conference rooms but with two entirely different feels to them, two different functionalities. We use them as an example for conference room size for clients. We also decided on the sliding Steelcase doors to save on space.” We asked T3 about the interesting looking light above our heads as well. “The other thing we wanted to do when we started designing [the space] was to make it somewhat of a showplace so that clients and prospect could come touch and feel products and see them in use, like these Steelcase walls. This light is made by 3M and it’s their first commercial installation of this LED light. Because of the curves, because of the low profile nature of it it’s one of a kind. 3M and lighting consultants bring people here to show off this light.”
Things are pretty versatile at T3. At night, if needed for an event, the “cafe” area can be cleared out after hours for plenty of space. Greg indicates the floor with a tap of his foot. “We left the concrete floor raw with just a coat of wax over it, very simple and easy clean up.” This concrete extends down through the main office, a strip of it separating the open office work space from the stand up call/conference rooms. “We extended the concrete down here as a design feature that subtly marks a difference in the space,” Jon explains. T3 is in a pretty open office so what about conversational privacy? Greg motions upward. “You can hear it, it’s actually just the HVAC, but there’s also a white noise system. You can be over in one corner and have a conversation and someone over here won’t hear anything . It’s just enough to dampen it. “I’ve been over here, yelling on the phone, and Hoff will be sitting over there and he’ll have no idea.” Jon nods. “We knew we wanted to have some sort of sound dampening system going in and what we didn’t realize is that the HVAC noise is quite sufficient.”
Anything to change or implement in the next six months to a year? “I can’t think of anything, really,” Jon says with a head shake. Greg adds that some more functional furniture in the cafe area should really be updated. Earlier they both mentioned how great it would be to have actual data on how people use various office spaces. “When we’re trying to advise a rapidly growing client on their next space we look at benchmarks on space utilization but it concerns me that we don’t have more concrete data on how they actually use space. Every company is different. Without the right data someone is going to go make the wrong decision on size and layout. It will be a costly misstep and employees will be unhappy and unproductive,” Greg says. Jon laughs without much humor. “Yeah, we deal with it all the time. It’s our boogeyman.” We love a good night’s sleep and Robin just might have something to set T3 and their clients at ease. We’ll be in touch. Thanks again for showing us around!
You might like to check out T3 Advisors yourself. Tell them Robin sent you.
Check out some interesting research on employee engagement and how the physical workspace can help.