The office of the future will be a flexible work environment. In this episode, Tracy Hawkins and host Sabine Ehm discuss how Twitter is developing their office spaces for new work styles.
Meet the guest
Tracy Hawkins is the Vice President of Real Estate (RE) & Workplace and Remote Experience at Twitter. She also oversees workplace transformation, such as leasing and planning, design and construction, as well as workplace operations. Currently, she is responsible for creating a Future of Work Innovation team at Twitter. The purpose of this project is to help identify and prepare for the office of the future.
Tracy started out as a receptionist, studying management in her spare time. She worked her way up through management at various companies, including her 7-year tenure at Yahoo. Tracy has now been with Twitter for over 8 years. As Tracy was on maternity leave, she was promoted to lead the RE and workplace team.
Listen to the following clips to gain insight into how Twitter runs their office spaces.
“A lot of companies are afraid of losing culture by allowing [remote work].” – Sabine Ehm
In this clip, Sabine comments on how forward-thinking Twitter has been with remote working. Twitter was already making plans before the pandemic, whereas most companies didn’t allow it.
Roughly 18 months pre-Covid, Tracy and her team were discussing how Twitter could be more accessible and diverse as a company. They wanted to be able to hire workers from countries beyond the United States and other Twitter hub locations. It would also mean allowing current employees the flexibility to move internationally while keeping their jobs. “We were thinking ahead, but no one could have seen what was coming our way in 2020.”
Up until 2020, the RE and workplace team was part of the finance organization. This is very common in large companies. At the start of 2020, Tracy and her team migrated to the People Team. In this clip, Tracy speaks to how grateful she was to be in this position as it allowed for improved collaboration and alignment. “It’s important to us that the [remote work] experience is just as good, and feels just as equal as being in an office.”
“We’ve done multiple pulse surveys throughout the last few years to understand why [our employees] come into the office, and it’s all different reasons. […] It actually varies from person to person.” – Tracy Hawkins
Before the pandemic, Twitter’s offices were set up in team neighborhoods. Each section would belong to a sector of the company, with its own desk and social areas. Moreover, they had larger, more destination-type areas, like cafes and libraries. Tracy and the RE team have performed many surveys throughout the organization to understand what works best. And, although the neighborhood configuration worked well, things have changed.
At the time of this episode’s recording, the Twitter offices remained closed to the majority of its workforce. Tracy and her team are now planning out how the office spaces will function in the future. After surveying the masses, they now expect roughly 80% of employees to come in 2-3 days a week when the offices reopen. The reason for this will range depending on the individual, so they are developing a very flexible work environment. This will be done by having bookable zones: sections for quiet work and others for collaborative activities.
In this clip, Tracy goes on to describe that the shift towards bookable zones does not mean overhauling the office completely. Furniture and infrastructure will stay the same, because “this is still early days. We want to see how folks come in, and how they use the space. We want to observe human behaviors and do more surveys”.
Companies are preparing for what their offices will look like post-Covid. Twitter, like many large corporations, have established methods to predict this. Tracy and her team have sent out many pulse surveys to better understand each individual employee. And, they have found that their reasons for coming into the office vary a lot. For Twitter to offer a flexible work environment is critical, as they want to be able to hire internationally and provide more benefits to current employees.
Want to turn your current offices into the ideal future workplace?