Known for its innovations in workplace design, DEGW has developed a tool and methodology known as “The Sandbox” that is enabling businesses to solve complex organizational problems, achieve specific goals, and take a step into the future—by encouraging employees to play together.
Interactive Sandbox Workshops are a conduit for conversations that integrate organizational aspirations with work flow, interpersonal relationships, and physical workspace needs. Under the guidance of DEGW consultants, companies using The Sandbox uncover design ideas for their workplace that simultaneously address space efficiency, improved performance, and better expression of team identities. A key concept of The Sandbox is that it is a physical game played by people around a table. This ensures that conversations include a variety of view- points but are also fluid, with instantaneous feedback, creative problem solving, and consensus building.
DEGW recently employed this novel approach with organizations like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. According to Scott Francisco, architect and key developer of The Sandbox, CBC’s 1.5 million square foot headquarters in Toronto was working against the organization in a number of ways. After months of extensive research Francisco’s team created The Sandbox to break a deadlock among the competing demands of team cultures, corporate strategy, and real estate management.
“We needed a vehicle to pinpoint the priorities of the company,” he explained. “The Sandbox allowed us to address under performing space by tapping into the knowledge and skills of staff at all levels, turning an intractable problem into a creative outcome.” The process has worked so well DEGW offices now use it worldwide.
Leveling The Field And Playing The Game
To implement The Sandbox, a group of employees representing a department or team gathers to play what looks like a colorful and intriguing board game. “The ‘theater’ of the tool is critical,” says Francisco. “It’s designed to elicit interest and engagement.”
The goal of the game is for the group to create an ideal work environment for their team inside a set amount of space. A ‘Kit of Parts’ showing furniture and settings that can easily be moved is seen in contrast to more permanent architecture. Topics such as office privacy, noise and activity level, lounge space, and desk configuration are determined through group discussion. Design principles that have been agreed to in advance by staff and management also guide the process.
The finalized design, which comes from three two hour workshops, is then reviewed by DEGW consultants, and ultimately built as the team workspace. Not only does the entire team benefit from a successful outcome, but the democratic process also allows them to champion decisions within the company. Consequently The Sandbox becomes a tool for organizational change far beyond the design of physical space.
Get It Straight From The Source
DEGW’s Sandbox case studies include the interior reorganization of the 1.5 million square foot Canadian Broadcasting Corporation headquarters in Toronto—the project that inspired the game’s creation. The transformation of the interior of this 1980s Philip Johnson building reveals the dramatic success of Sandbox’s methods, as is indicated by improvements in productivity and employee enthusiasm for the new office setup. The Sandbox has also been used in the pharmaceutical industry and at an Ivy league university, and is currently generating interest from several global cultural institutions.