As a business owner, I know what it’s like to summon the courage to take the leap and start your own business. It’s the American Dream, but in uncertain economic times there are no guarantees that hard work, talent, and dedication will lead to success. That’s why my firm is committed to helping start-ups where we can. Small businesses lead their fields in innovation and help set a new path for the rest of us, but if they’re unable to get off the ground, those new ideas will never manifest. By helping them, we also help ourselves and our community.
With understanding and excitement, we’re working on the design & construction of a 4,400 square foot start-up office design for Embright LLC, aimed to capture the company’s culture as the Clinically Integrated Network (CIN) of the Pacific Northwest. Embright strives to improve the access to and quality of healthcare, while increasing their positive influence on their surrounding communities. With SZ’s redesign recently completed, Embright’s office space is now able to accommodate their growing firm and support their highly collaborative environment through an innovative use of space.
Through the partnership of UW Medicine (UWM), MultiCare Health System (MHS) and LifePoint Health (LH), we are poised to change the way healthcare is planned and delivered – to improve the health of the members we serve.
Like any start-up, Embright was tasked with not only finding office space and the right new-hires, but also their corporate voice and vision. Embright teamed with Stoke, brand strategist, to do just that. Inspired by their freshly minted Brand Guidelines we found creative ways to express Embright’s vibe into their built environment.
To share more about how the remodel has influenced Embright, we corresponded with Christopher Kodama, President & CEO of Embright LLC to ask how they’re enjoying the implementation of Phase 1 of their newly designed space, and how they imagine it will help the company continue to grow.
Q & A with Christopher Kodama, President & CEO, Embright LLC:
As a start-up, what do you find most challenging about securing new office space?
First and foremost, it was important to me to find a space with personality with the potential to be transformed into an environment that was safe, engaging for staff, and provided subconscious cues about who we are and how we conduct ourselves. Second, it needed to be located in an area that was easy for people to find and was relatively easy to access regardless of whether or not one is driving or taking public transportation.
I knew that time was of the essence to stand up operations and build the business. I envisioned building a workforce that brought a broad array of skills and a willingness to roll up their sleeves and give their all to accomplishing the goals of the new company. All this with an emphasis that we would be different, unconventional and something other than business as usual. The type of talent I am seeking can thrive under ambiguous, volatile, uncertain, and complex circumstances and embrace our company values of integrity, innovation, collaboration, agility, respect, and excellence. I needed a space that could reflect these values and could serve as an environment that would provide constant cues to those who entered and worked in our space that were conducive to them embracing and living these values.
As a brand new entity, property managers want to have some assurance that you will be able to honor the terms of your lease agreement including being financially solvent enough to pay rent on time and being sustainable enough to fulfill the duration of occupancy. We were fortunate that we had the financial backing of established and well-known owners who were willing to provide formal assurances to those from whom we sub-lease our space.
How has the SZ Team contributed to the launch of Embright as a company and as a brand?
The SZ Team has been collaborative, flexible, and patient. There were several variables that were in motion while we began to evaluate our new space that would be critical for making design decisions. The two most important were getting our naming and branding right and finalizing the declaration of our mission, vision, and values.
The SZ Team was willing to jump in and be part of the process of building our plane in the air, so to speak and ultimately, all of the elements fell into place at the right time. I will always be grateful for the Team’s sensitivity to the challenges of a start-up organization and their ability to remain agile and adaptable to our evolving needs.
How has your office remodel contributed to hiring and retention of employees?
The original space immediately provided us with an environment with some private conference rooms that are available to any leader or staff member as needed with an emphasis on open, shared workspace. As we began to settle into the space, this approach was intended to reflect a flattened organizational hierarchy and support a culture of openness, transparency, and real-time collaboration. This, in itself, helps us in screening candidates for fit as this type of layout is not for everyone.
The SZ Team helped us to identify additional semi-private group work spaces and integrated elements to control for acoustics. Employees who experienced the space before and after the first phase renovation are energized and excited by the lighting accents, tone, and being surrounded by our branding elements. You feel subtly immersed in an ecosystem that reflects an integrated flow to our marketing and branding elements with our workforce. We continue to be intentional about trying out techniques in our workflow design to adapt to this unconventional corporate footprint and visitors and prospective hires are immediately exposed to a kinesthetic experience of who Embright is as soon as they enter the office.
Can you imagine growing into this new office space, as Embright grows and evolves?
One of our requirements when sourcing office space was to find adequate usable square footage that would allow us to grow into the staffing model contemplated in our business plan. As a start-up, we often don’t know what we don’t know and are evolving quickly. This means that we need a space that can be flexible and accommodate new considerations as we grow.
The SZ Team heard this loud and clear and started with a reasonable estimation of the end in mind to then inform the full scope of what we could do over time while simultaneously providing us with context for making near term design decisions that met our needs as we know them today without obviating options in the future as we become more establish and grow into our visual identity.
What do you enjoy most about your new office?
The juxtaposition of historic building elements like brick walls that reflect an old Seattle feel with our company’s vibrant color palette and modern design elements.
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