This week, Small Business editor Caitlin Sykes talks to business owners about work spaces.

Sarah Gibson is CEO of business analysis firm Redvespa, which has offices in Wellington and Auckland. Last year the company opened its Auckland office in the heritage Kauri Timber Building on Fanshawe St.

What were the key things you wanted when you were setting up your office in Auckland?

We definitely wanted it to be open plan and for it to have a really collaborative feel, with no separation between management and the rest of the team. Flexibility within the space was also important; we wanted to be able to use different zones in the office for different activities and at different times. So as well as it being a space for our team to work in, we wanted the ability to use the space to deliver training courses for our customers, hold conferences and social occasions. And we wanted to highlight the original feel of the building, because that character is what we fell in love with and is what the building deserves to have celebrated.

Did you work with a designer to bring those things together?


Yes, we worked with a commercial fitout design company called Stack Interiors. Their experience was really valuable in bringing together the whole design, but primarily they helped us confirm in our minds how we wanted to use the space. We also worked with our graphic designer - Gemma McCabe of Miss McCabe, who we've worked with for over 10 years - who created things like cool Vespa images and speech bubbles for the walls, so it really feels like us.

What do you love about working in the space?

We have exposed ceiling beams, kauri floorboards, brick walls and sash windows, so the character of the building is just beautiful. We also put in a really lovely big kitchen so we can host customers, and the wider business analysis community. We love welcoming people into the space, and it feels like welcoming people into our home.

And because we have these beautiful exposed ceiling beams we've put a swing in the middle of the office. If you need a little break, you go have a swing and it's super relaxing; it's relaxing just to watch someone on it!

What other impact has the space had on the wider business?

We encourage mindfulness in the workplace as part of our health and wellbeing strategy, and there are zones here where you can really get away from it all.

We also incorporated a design lab into the space, which is our zone for creativity and collaboration. No one works in it permanently, but if someone is needing to focus on some creative problem solving tasks they step into that space. It gets them away from their desk and day-to-day thinking and really helps put them in a different headspace. Productivity is hugely enhanced because of that, which has been awesome. Another thing we do in that space is hold our daily standup meetings there as a team. We have our strategic programme of work and our internal strategic tasks all on display on huge posters, and that transparency means everybody now understands, and is much more engaged with our business strategy.

And we've actually had an employee join us because of the space. She wasn't looking at being an employee of the company but she came into our office space one day and said 'this is so cool, and I want to be part of this business' and she's joining us permanently.


What advice would you have for anyone else undergoing a similar process?

Get your team involved in choosing the space in the first place and helping to design it. We came up with a list of requirements collaboratively and the staff brought all kinds of different perspectives to the table, like 'where is the closest public transport?' or 'are people going to come and visit us here?'.

We also worked in the space for a few weeks before we finalised absolutely everything, particularly with furniture. It's a bit like when you move into a new home - you want to see how you'll use the space and give yourself a bit of flexibility to tweak things as you need to.