Rooms for improvement

What do an LA office, an air-filled sphere, a rock legend and a place to play coin-fed games have to do with Empathy?

Like any workplace, we have our own names for things. Some do what they say on the tin, like… The Kitchen! But for our four shared work spaces, we wanted names that encouraged occupants to adopt the right mindsets for the tasks at hand, without us dictating (“Welcome to The Big Shouty Ideas Room people. Now think!”)

We feel our spaces each have unique functions, moods and roles to play — almost like team members. But the old names didn’t reflect that. So, it was time for a change.
Here’s what we had:

  • a small room with books that doubles as our lunch room
  • our main office with desks, computers, people, flowers, post cards, Post-its. Often called — with breathtaking imagination — The Studio
  • a small workshop with tools for prototyping, Post-its and blackboard. Called the Do Shop, because that’s where we ‘do’ stuff
  • a large workshop — lots of space, white boards, pens, bean bags, dress up clothes and 1,695,975 Post-its. Called Awayday for its former role as a rented out space.

Think about them for a moment — what would you call them?

The Empathy Sorting Hat

Being Empathy, the whole team had a say. We submitted as many ideas as we liked. We then filtered and iterated them until the final four emerged from the Empathy Sorting Hat.

And the winners were…

  • Bubble — the quiet room, where you can work in a bubble of silence, protected from the clatter and chat of studio life. Until midday — it’s still a part-time lunch room
  • Arcade — the main office, an iteration of the name of the Canadian band Arcade Fire. It can get busy, so we try to use our ‘inside’ bells and flashing lights when working.
  • 901 — the small workshop, named after Charles and Ray Eames’ famous offices at 901 Washington Boulevard.
  • Bowie — the large workshop, a creative cauldron named after one of music’s great collaborators.

Did we surprise you? The names have helped give the rooms a personality — just as we intended — and have become a talking point with clients. Next time you’re in the neighbourhood come in, you’ll see what we mean.