Building better places to work: A look at Minto's new offices
Hybrid work is here to stay. In fact, recent stats presented at this year’s Collision conference at The Future of Workspaces Masterclass showed that 90% of employees want hybrid work, and that 64% of hybrid workers have experienced improved work-life balance. Research shows that the better the workplace, the more time employees want to spend there. Now more than ever, the right type of space in the right place is key to attracting and retaining talent.
But after being away from the office for nearly two years, how do you create an office space that people want to come back to??
It’s a question Minto started thinking about back in 2020. When it became clear that office life would look a lot different post-pandemic, we began brainstorming solutions for our outdated Ottawa office and what that might look like for the eventual return to work.
“We wanted to really make a statement about who we are as a company… If we’re inviting people back, we’re not inviting them back to the same old, same old. We’re making that commitment to them and putting our money where our mouth is.”
– Michael Waters, CEO of The Minto Group on the Ottawa office makeover.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at Minto’s new Ottawa and Toronto offices, including our overall design approach and philosophy, some our favourite features, and share how we’ve created spaces that employees want to come back to.
Designing a hybrid workplace: Our approach, philosophy, and process
See ya later, cramped cubicles. Hello new floor plans, technologies, and interactive spaces built for a hybrid workforce!
For both the Ottawa and Toronto office, we joined forces with human-centric interior designer, Susan Brewster, and her team of experts in workplace strategy and design at Places & Spaces.
In order for Susan and her team to truly understand the intricacies of our organization, culture, and people, becoming tightly integrated with the Minto team was key to the overall design process and success of both projects.
According to Susan, “a big part of what we do is listen, observe, and figure out the right concepts, furniture, and technology needed to suit the goals of an organization, while also supporting the people that work there. This can only be achieved by truly understanding the ins and outs of an organization.”
After gathering initial insights, research, and observations, the mission became clear:
1. Create a functional and vibrant office environment that is a better place to work, think, connect, and recharge, and;
2. Promote healthier ways to work and improve well-being.
… and so did the main goals and objectives:
1. Ensure the design reflects inclusivity, equity and diversity, and;
2. Include insightful, deliberate design choices that reflect Minto’s corporate values—accomplishment, courage, partnership, and innovation.
Throughout the design process and decision making, both the team at Minto and Places & Spaces used the following checklist for decision making:
● Is the space functional—physically, mentally, and organizationally?
● Is it an environment where employees will actively participate to create the future?
● Is it a ‘smart spend’? In other words, are we minimizing hard-scaping and maximizing elements that already exist or are transportable?
Creating a workplace people want to come back to
Designing Minto’s new headquarters in Ottawa meant a need to re-evaluate the reasons to return to an office. We knew we needed to work hard to create a space that employees actually wanted to come back to after spending so much time in the comfort of their own homes.
The “Great Indoors” space in Toronto office is just one of the ways Minto has brought the concept of home to work. Working closely with DIRTT Construction Systems to build prefabricated interior spaces, both Ottawa and Toronto were able to enhance the enjoyment of being in the office.
How do you make a space that’s not only beautiful, but healthy, productive, and fun? What could we offer at an office that a home does not?
We set out to create a healthy, safe workplace that brings people together and focuses on culture, collaboration, and creativity.
Here are some of the ways we did that…
By considering personal health and safety
In a post-pandemic world, cleanliness and the health and safety is more important than ever, and so no detail was spared when it came to ensuring a safe space for employees to return to.
A first-aid room, wider hallways, fewer desks that are better spaced out, highly cleanable surfaces and other features like touchless tech, motion sensors, improved air circulation and UV-light sanitation are just some of the ways we’ve created a healthier, safer space.
By creating comfortable spaces good for the mind and body
In addition to health and safety, we wanted to ensure employees felt physically comfortable at work. This meant introducing a combination of private, individual workspaces, as well as new boardrooms and meeting rooms. Our meeting and collaboration spaces are large, uncrowded, uncluttered spaces, and include fewer seats at the table and comfortable spacing between chairs.
Recognizing that movement throughout the day is key to a healthy mind and body, most rooms now provide multiple posture options. Employees can choose to sit at tables, sit casually, or stand while working or in meetings.
Ottawa’s completely remodeled office space is inspired by Minto’s eco-friendly tree logo. There are 2,500 plants located throughout the two floors, and of that total, 1,100 can be found on the bio wall – also known as the living wall – located at the office entrance. The calming feature is the work of Vancouver-based GSky Plant Systems.
Visual changes of scenery, different stimulation, noise levels, lighting, colours, scenery, and furniture have also been taken into account to ensure utmost comfort for employees.
By accommodating various work styles
Various work spaces in Ottawa
Private "dens" in Toronto
We recognize that everyone works differently, and that not every day at work is the same. Some days require quieter, more focused work, while others require collaboration between team members.
That’s why we’ve introduced different options for various work styles and needs, such as:
● Quiet workspaces for focus, free of distractions
● Lively workspaces for those who thrive in a beehive of activity
● Places to collaborate on a task with a single co-collaborator or entire team
By offering dedicated spaces for health and wellness
Our new Ottawa office promotes health, wellness, diversity, and inclusion through various spaces for introspection, meditation, prayer, tranquility, mind-rest, and fresh air. From a private room for yoga, meditation, and Muslim religious prayer to a separate room for working moms to keep up with breast milk pumping, the Ottawa office has something for everyone.
By creating places for social interactions
We know that people are generally social creatures, and that many have missed the watercooler interactions, mentorship opportunities, and camaraderie that occur in the workplace. That’s why at both offices, we’ve included various spaces where staff can gather, have lunch, play games, and chat.
“People are loving it because they have the best of both worlds,”
said Jo-Ann Taylor Vice-President of Human Resources for The Minto Group.
“We do invest in our employees. The fact that we spent the time, money and effort to redesign the workspace, to make it a better place to come and celebrate and work together, people have been excited and appreciative of everything the company has been doing.”
Want to know more about what it’s like to work at Minto? Visit our Careers page for more information and to browse our career opportunities.