The future is now with hybrid workspaces: notes from Austin Design Week studio tours

Emily Trofholz

Emily Trofholz

November 15, 2021

Last week was Austin Design Week – a week of networking and idea-sharing for the Austin creative community. I have attended in past years, but didn’t participate last year in the virtual conference. I was excited to see that the event was back with some in-person sessions for 2022.

Futuring isn’t just for futurists

This year’s theme was Futuring – encompassing future tech, ideas, challenges, and priorities. Many sessions focused on sustainability and building a more equitable future. On their site, Austin Design Week adds that futuring is “an act we all take part in, not just the futurists and visionaries among us.”

At Wursta, we know the flexibility and collaborative benefits of technology helps us achieve those goals. Specifically, how and where we work allows us to implement change. To say our workplaces have changed in the last few years is an understatement. That’s why I was excited to explore the studio tours available during Austin Design Week.

Each year, design studios throughout the community open their doors to the public. This year, there were 13 studio tour events available and I was able to attend two. If I missed one that you were able to attend, let me know what you thought! I’d love to hear: marketing@wursta.com.

Austin Design Week in-person studio tours

Throughout the week, I visited two studios, one of which was virtual. (More on that later.) Tours were open for two hours, giving attendees plenty of time to come and go as they please. Here is a short summary of the in-person tour and a little about the studio.

frog design – creating space for everyone to be heard

Global design studio frog design offered both in-person and virtual tours for their studio tour. The studio is in a new building in the heart of South Congress. It features minimalist design with a fairly open concept layout and plenty of natural light. Because it’s on the third floor, you feel more like you’re in a treehouse than in a bustling commercial area of town.

Inside frog design studio in Austin, TX.

The digital elements of their tour interacted well with the in-person tour, as attendees could log in to their Spatial room and interact with elements of the tour. Different rooms gave viewers an inside look at what a workday is like at frog design: from their interaction with Miro software to a dog’s eye view of the office.

One space linked to a YouTube video of a day in the life of an employee at frog who is deaf. Alok Doshi, a Senior Program Manager at frog design, went through how he uses captions within virtual meetings, interpreters, and sometimes multiple devices to hold client meetings, discuss projects with his team, and interview potential coworkers.

Overall, the interaction with the Spatial setup and the beauty of the office provided a great studio tour experience.

Join the party from anywhere: a virtual studio tour

One studio tour I attended was completely virtual. Art Island was created by a local art collective; it’s a virtual world for users to walk through (as an avatar) and enjoy different experiences. Think of it like a hippie video game.

My avatar could explore different regions of the game, like the Tea Zone, a dance floor, art exhibits with commentary from the artists, and much more. All visitors were connected with microphone, video, and were able to screen share.

My avatar posing for a photo. I tried my best.

While this was a fun, experiential way to see art and get to know creators, this could also be a great way to interact with coworkers, gamify onboarding experiences, or train employees. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more experiences like this in the future.

What I learned about the importance of where you work from ADW studio tours

Although each studio tour was different, they all encompassed basic principles that make people enjoy where they work.

Each space had designated areas with specific functions – like a place to eat, a place to relax and socialize, a place to be heads-down and focus, etc. I see the similarities between where we work and how we structure our day. I don’t eat, work, and socialize at all hours throughout my entire day. If I did, I’d be over-caffeinated, mentally drained, and lose my voice.

How to work from anywhere with Google Workspace

Because where we work is so flexible, it’s important to create a productive work environment virtually. Google Workspace makes that happen.

Features like focus time in Google Calendar create space in your day to be heads-down and undisturbed. Even if you’re not working in an office or traditional work environment, delegating space for specific activities throughout your day will help you stay on task.

Also, while I’m sure we would all love to work in a beautiful design studio like frog design, that isn’t always possible. Creating a comfortable and unique workspace is important. We can personalize our space like we personalize our home, with photos of our friends and family, plants, blankets, and good lighting. Another way to add your own spin to your virtual space can be adding backgrounds to Google Meet, which are now available on mobile devices.

However you decide to make your workspace your own, it’s important that it helps you be your most productive self. If you have questions about creating your ideal workspace using technology, reach out to us. Or if you’d like to talk more about Austin Design Week, let’s connect. We’d love to hear from you!

Emily Trofholz

Emily Trofholz

November 15, 2021

Subscribe to Blog

Share This