Rite of Passage
Credit: Christina Faminoff

Rite of Passage | Joining the work area with its social and reception area, the portal is lined with staff and client photos activated by motion sensors

When tech firm Copperleaf moved to a new office in East Vancouver, everyone in the company was invited to participate in the plan

“In high tech, your team is everything,” says Judi Hess, CEO of Vancouver-based Copperleaf Technologies Inc., which designs decision analytics software for hydro, gas and water companies like BC Hydro, ONE Gas, Inc. in Oklahoma and Anglian Water in the U.K. “People are everything. That’s your value.”

Office Style
Credit: Christina Faminoff

Office Style | Furnishings are a mix of Ikea and local designs. “We let different groups pick whatever colour they want so people have some input into their space,” says CEO Judi Hess

So when the fast-growing company’s 85 employees needed more room, Hess invited them to help find and plan a new office. “It didn’t matter if you were the vice-president of marketing or whether you just joined three weeks ago—if you wanted to participate, you could participate, because we really like to harness everybody’s ideas,” she explains. A group of 10 or so ended up checking out potential sites and choosing the Broadway Tech Centre. They liked the campus feel, the building and the location across the street from the Renfrew SkyTrain station. Hess then held a meeting with the whole company to get everyone’s input and make sure staff were behind the move.

Living Large
Credit: Christina Faminoff

Living Large | Blown-up photos of employees combine with graphic copperized industrial elements to represent client industries

Working with design firm SSDG Interiors Inc., they planned the 12,000-square-foot space to create a collaborative environment while injecting a sense of fun and acknowledging the company’s culture and clients. After moving in last May, the company continued to expand, growing to 100 employees and taking over another 7,000 square feet upstairs in January.

Pit stop
Credit: Christina Faminoff

Pit Stop | Staff use the plywood pit both for business meetings and informal socializing

The premises feature plenty of copper, and raw industrial materials like plywood and metal piping reflect the industries that Copperleaf works with. The few private offices are for employees who are often on the phone or handle confidential information—and if the occupant is away, the office is up for grabs. “When you have a very open space, you need to be able to book meeting rooms really easily,” Hess notes. But you don’t have to buy “the fancy electronic meeting room system,” she says. Copperleaf uses iPads with off-the-shelf organization software.

social centre
Credit: Christina Faminoff

Social Centre | The front desk, which doubles as a serving counter for events, connects to the café so the previously isolated receptionist can interact with guests and staff

Staff were involved in working out the floor plan, seating arrangements and colour scheme. “We don’t go with every idea, but everyone discusses it,” Hess says. “I really find that when you let people participate in shaping their space that they’re going to work in, they love it more. And they love coming here.”