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Return-to-Office Series: A Conversation with Patreon

The coDesign team recently sat down with Amrita Pleli, Patreon’s Director of Real Estate and Workplace Experience, to learn about how the company is approaching its return-to-office. Amrita shared that Patreon has made major changes to its San Francisco office in recent months, and that these changes were grounded in extensive research conducted by the company over the course of the pandemic.

Patreon took a unique and thorough, 3-pronged approach to its research. In conversation, Amrita shared “…we asked our employees, per subject matter and focus area, what they felt towards commuting, public transportation, and frequency of office visits, and really tapped into our employee feedback for one aspect of how we made our decisions…We also did this huge benchmarking effort to see what other companies were doing, why they were doing it, and what flavors of hybrid were essentially being selected….[And finally, we gathered] external feedback from employees that could potentially come work for us...” Patreon’s attention to the needs of potential, future employees, was of particular interest to our team, as we haven't seen other companies paying such close attention to the needs and desires of prospective workers. It’s great to see such long-term thinking.

Patreon’s goal in conducting return-to-office research was to gather all the information needed to develop a return-to-office model, specific to the organization. “We wanted to develop a bespoke model that was going to be tailored for us. Benchmarking is great because it lets you now where the industry is going – it provides a macro-level view of how things are changing and shifting and what most companies are doing - but as far as what your company should be doing, that should involve more of an internal, introspective look at what your employees want,” shared Amrita.

coDesign couldn’t agree more. In fact, we’ve always preached that no return-to-office model is better than another. Rather, what matters, is that the model you choose fits your specific organization well.

Patreon’s research led the workplace team to the following understanding: “…that flexibility and optionality [is] the new currency when it comes to workplace,” and that the company would need to adjust its spaces to better support hybrid working. This thinking served as the driving force behind the redesign of Patreon’s San Francisco office, where the company worked to create spaces conducive to team collaboration and social gathering, activities that will draw people to the office, post-pandemic. Patreon’s new office contains greater breakout spaces, ancillary furniture next to writeable wall surfaces, and mini all-hands spaces where teams can gather for quick conversations.

As a Strategy+Design+Build firm, coDesign appreciated hearing that Patreon took time to uncover its workplace needs before jumping into design. Yes, doing this requires time and resources, but in the long run, it’s certainly worth it. Patreon’s new, dynamic workplace makes this abundantly clear.

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