December 13, 2021

Pilot Workspaces Make Change a Little Less Scary

We’ve all heard the constant buzz about “the new workplace” and how organizations need to re-think their current spaces to better accommodate the new expectations of employees. But unfortunately, this is much easier said than done.

When thinking of entirely redesigning a space, organizations typically are hesitant because of the time and money that need to be invested. To make this decision even more challenging, understanding the kinds of spaces and ways people want to work can feel like guesswork. The answer? Testing new applications and products on a small scale to start.

Pilot spaces and prototypes allow groups of employees to temporarily try out and experience new work settings and share their feedback. They are especially valuable because they can uncover challenges you might not have ever considered and reduce risk by allowing you to test out a new design before making a larger investment.


NBS Pilot Space Collage


Gensler explains, “Pilot spaces enable both clients and designers to test concepts about which they aren’t 100% sure, and then pivot if they don’t love the results. Pilot projects can save money, avoid undue stress, and provide countless lessons on what needs to be implemented to achieve goals.”

As workplace needs continue to evolve, pilot spaces can be especially beneficial in determining what works best for your organization, since they’re customized based on your specific goals, wants, and needs. A space that your employees love is more likely to lead to better engagement, higher productivity, and enhanced wellbeing, ultimately, improving business outcomes and retaining talent. Isn’t this what we all want after all?

According to Steelcase, “Prototypes tend to be less formal and smaller in scale, while pilots are typically more formal and broader – but either is an opportunity to experiment in a living laboratory.”

Even though pilot spaces and prototypes require change, they can be as major or as minor as you’d like. They can be as simple as adding in new technology to an existing conference room to better support hybrid working, or as complex as trying out a completely new setting such as an open collaboration area or hoteling workstations. In either case, it’s an opportunity to try something new and observe how people respond.

NBS La-Z-Boy Pilot SpaceAlthough pilot spaces are a recent hot topic, this concept is nothing new to NBS, as we’ve been helping organizations plan, observe, and execute test spaces for years. One example of a pilot space we worked on was for the La-Z-Boy corporate headquarters when they decided they needed to realign their business processes and adapt to their employees’ new ways of thinking. This project proved that an interconnected workspace can better inspire and engage people. La-Z-Boy liked the space so much that 95% of the pilot furnishings were reused in the plan for their new headquarters.

We’ve helped many organizations find the best solution to meet their employees’ needs through pilot spaces, and we can do the same for you. Whether you’re at the very beginning stages of thinking through a prototype or considering an entire pilot space, we can help you find the right solution.

Are you ready to test out a new workspace? Contact us today to learn how we can help!