Colliers International decided it was time to move and modernize its Toronto office after spending over 25 years at its old location.
The office was showing signs of wear and tear, and its location and design limited the ability to create a leading-edge work environment. Colliers’ management and staff all recognized it was time for change.
Colliers wanted a space it could be proud of, a space that could communicate its story, as well as show off its people’s talents and personalities. The desire to more effectively collaborate with clients and employees in a way that tells the Colliers story led to the selection of the 13th and 14th floors at 181 Bay Street (Brookfield Place).
The Colliers Way – a guiding path to change
Colliers applied the same innovative approach it executes with clients to its own downtown office, starting with a robust team, composed of executives and professionals from its Brokerage (site selection and lease services), Advisory (workplace strategy/needs assessment) and Project Management (project and move management) teams, as well as interior designers. This group worked closely to provide an integrated, five-phase solution approach including Project Launch, Workplace Strategy Development, Transaction Execution, Execution Logistics and Planning, and Construction and Post-Occupancy.
The team collaborated to create a common vision for the project by posing the question: What does the office of the future look like for Colliers?
The company began the journey to design and develop the workplace of the future with an in-depth needs assessment that included a discovery and visioning session to establish the concept and strategic approach. It was important to Colliers to find out how employee work habits had evolved over time and what employees wanted the office of the future to embody.
Holding discovery sessions with stakeholders and employees well in advance of the move, the team gathered information to establish the vision, including priorities and requirements around location, flexibility, timing and benefits. To achieve the vision, the project team applied the following guiding principles to the design and development of the new office:
Showcase for Colliers as a downtown leader
Colliers’ brand is a promise it makes to the market. It was important that the new space reflect this promise – so there would be congruence between how Colliers operates and what its brand communicates.
Colliers looked at several options in the downtown core; it became evident that Brookfield Place would best meet its space needs. The building would centrally position the company within the busiest part of downtown, as well as match its requirements from a design and brand identity perspective.
At the core of Colliers’ values is a focus on service, ensuring clients’ needs are identified and met. With ample meeting and gathering spaces, the new office allows Colliers to host clients and stakeholders, serving as an example of a successful space strategy.
The office’s formal client reception area is unique in that it can accommodate large events when the reception area is combined with the lounge and lunch room. Providing a positive and warm environment with ample natural lighting, informal areas of the café and lounge are ideal for client meetings, vendor interactions, daily staff activities, and even cocktail parties for more than 175 people.
Right to light
Right to light was non-existent in the former Toronto Downtown Colliers office. The perimeter offices had no sidelights or vision panels, and the 66” high workstation partitions made for limited natural light infiltration into the core of the office.
In the new space, private offices are 50% glass, and partitions heights are capped at 42”, giving all staff access to natural light.
In the planning stages, it was noted that employees generally spend 90% of their time indoors, so it was important to pay attention to how the built-out environment could adversely affect employees’ well-being. With this in mind, Colliers pursued an integrated sustainability program that included BOMA’s Sustainable Workplaces Certification, Canadian Green Building Council’s LEED-Silver initiative (use of sustainable materials throughout, daylight harvesting features, views to the exterior, air and ventilation, acoustics, etc.) and the WELL Delos Building Standard - Silver (WELLness - access to filtered water, natural light, 100% sit/stand desks for all employees and healthy vending snacks).
Colliers employees expressed a genuine desire for more space to collaborate. As staff enjoy learning from one another, they requested spaces that would emphasize interaction and provide opportunities for collision. Workstations offer both standing and sitting options and with mobile technology integrated into the space to allow employees to move while they work. Additionally, Colliers provided enough alternative spaces to allow all employees to work throughout the day without being tied to their desks.
Embrace new technology
Colliers employees need technology systems that are flexible, simple and easy to use. The new office offers Microsoft hubs for Skype meetings, whiteboards and video conferencing. The reception area caters to incoming clients with digital displays, and is equipped with tablets for meeting room bookings, client sign-in and direct access to Colliers digital information.
Acoustic privacy and sound quality
Acoustical privacy and superior sound quality in an open-concept environment were extremely important to employees, so Colliers introduced sophisticated sound masking and sound baffling between meeting rooms, offices and telephone rooms. Acoustic panels were used in the ceilings, as well as on the walls of meeting rooms and offices, and as feature panels across the boundaries of the core.
Brand identity expression
Colliers retained two local artists to imbue the space with reflections of the brand and the community in which Colliers people work and live. A local artist painted a customized mural in the café/lounge area depicting iconic GTA locales, communities and real estate areas, while a local photographer highlighted iconic areas of Downtown Toronto, with the images wrapping the core of both floors. These images are also reflected on the ceiling of the reception area and highlighted in the graffiti wall of the “fun zone”, a dedicated relaxation area in the office.
And thus, Colliers makes its statement
Colliers is defined by its people. Colliers transformed its workplace culture into one fostering greater collaboration, transparency and innovation, demonstrating the company’s values of service, expertise, community and fun. The office at 181 Bay Street provides areas for focused thought, shared work, continuous learning and consistent social interaction, moving away from a purely functional space to an agile, flexible environment. Integrating the same approach, it takes to solve client’s business and space challenges, Colliers was able to provide employees with a workspace where they can thrive and succeed.
To see more, watch the Colliers’ move story video.