We’re excited to have Out of Office join MOD as venue partners. We’ve caught with the Out of Office team to find out more about them and why they support human-centered design.


Tell us about Out Of Office.

Put simply, Out Of Office is a workshop space for hire. However it’s how the space is set up that makes it special.

When designing the space, we didn’t want to create ‘just another space for hire’ – you know the ones, a bit dingy, the furniture looks like it’s done its dash, the aircon only has two settings (too hot or too cold) and there’s that broken whiteboard missing a wheel in the corner.

We wanted Out Of Office to be a space that celebrated ideas. A space that (as the name suggests) encouraged people to get out of their routine, leave distractions at the door and focus on what matters.

So we started out by asking ourselves ‘if we were to create our ideal workshop space, what would it look like?’ – from that question the ideas flowed and helped us shape what the space is today.

Out Of Office is a space that’s both thoughtful and full of thought. It’s completely customizable. From the digital booking experience via our website (www.outofoffice.co.nz), to our furniture on wheels allowing countless arrangements. The space is designed to work around you.

We’ve got walls of whiteboards, our markers never run dry and the tech just works. We’ve worked incredibly hard to ensure you and your team can turn up and instantly get stuck into whatever you need to be thinking about that day.

How can people keep humans in mind, when creating working environments/office & working spaces?

We think it’s very easy to go with the default when creating spaces. No matter the design you go with for your space, even if it’s the default, it hugely influences how people will use it. And how people use a space directly influences the quality of thinking that comes out of that space.

For example, we always see chairs in spaces so we just assume we need chairs. Chairs are very ‘static’ items of furniture, they’re comfortable and designed for us to be in one place for long periods of time. Great for certain situations, but can also allow us to switch off and get a bit lazy – not ideal when we’re wanting everyone to be engaged in some high quality thinking.

So within Out Of Office we don’t have chairs, we have stools – stools allow you to take short breaks but keep moving, keep the blood flowing and ultimately stay engaged.

There’s some great questions you can ask yourself or your team when designing spaces that may just change the way you approach the project, these are:

  1. How are we working when we’re doing our best work and how can the space’s design enable that?
  2. What do we truly need to get the job done to a high standard? This doesn’t need to be physical items either, it could be ‘no distractions’ for example.
  3. How are we catering to different peoples’ needs? Not everyone is the same, and people need different environments to think clearly. Ensure you’re taking these into account.

What are you doing to design with humans in mind every day?

As mentioned previously, we love ideas. Our ability to think defines us as humans. We believe that ideas are powerful – good ideas also aren’t easy. They require time, effort, planning and intent to come to fruition.

At Out Of Office, we are constantly thinking about how we can improve the space to help people do more great thinking in order to bring their ideas to life.

For example, the more components of a workshop that can be pre-organised (pens, post-its, catering etc.) the less stressful organising the workshop is likely to be and the more time people have available to devote to their specific task.

From workshops and away days, to design sprints and events – Out Of Office has catered to such a diverse spectrum of approaches to thinking, all different but also all fantastic and contributing to society in their own way, shape or form.

This year, you’re once again joining MOD as a venue partner. Why are you supporting MOD? Why do you think human-centred design is important?

We are indeed. We support MOD for two main reasons:

  1. Firstly, Wellington is a small city in the scheme of things but that’s one of our greatest strengths – that we are all so connected. Connected to each other as well as the rest of the world. Anything that encourages that connection, like Mindset of Design, has to be a good thing.
  2. Secondly, we love design and we love thinking. For us, ‘human-centred design’ and ‘design’ are one and the same. If design isn’t considering the human component then it’s highly unlikely to be effective. We believe in a ‘more is more’ approach when it comes to creating quality thinking. Design is a form of thinking that pushes beyond the obvious to those breakthrough moments. And they just don’t occur if people aren’t given the space or time to create them.

The more Out Of Office can help enable both connection and great thinking, the better!

When starting out, what’s one piece of advice you wish you had heard?

Hmm, I guess this is something we always knew but were perhaps naively ignoring, and that was people are slow to change so be patient. I’d say we started out with rose tinted glasses and an attitude that ‘if we build it, they will come’. We believed in what we were doing with the space (and still firmly do) but it has taken a while for people to come around.

It’s taken time, but once people use the space they realise it’s a game changer. They begin to understand that they can work differently and still produce at least the same, if not better outcomes. We’ve had industry defining ideas developed in the space, we’ve had people asking us how they can set up a space just like it in their own offices – that’s really rewarding.

What is something that you have learnt that you can’t read in a book?

Using a great workshop space is only a quarter of the battle to running a great workshop and getting useful results.

It takes a team effort. You need a great space, sure, but you also need fantastic facilitators who are willing to maximise the use of the space and guide people to the necessary destination. You need participants who want to be there and are ready to positively contribute to the session. And most importantly, you need the conditions for success to be created pre and post workshop, so whatever great ideas are discussed within Out Of Office’s walls can go on to flourish outside of them.