Photos provided by High Alpha
Who is High Alpha?
High Alpha is a venture studio based in the Bottleworks District of Indianapolis, Indiana. They partner with talented entrepreneurs to conceive, launch, and scale new businesses—constantly exploring and validating new business concepts. High Alpha designs, prototypes, and validates their top concepts during their quarterly Sprint Week process, which serves as the primary forcing function for launching new startups. Since High Alpha’s launch in 2015, they have created 21 new companies—and counting—and invested in over 45 world-class founders that are changing the landscape of B2B SaaS.
Why did High Alpha Engage DORIS?
High Alpha grew significantly, spurring their move to the Bottleworks District in downtown Indianapolis. Before they made any changes, they wanted to involve all stakeholders in a process that identified current challenges in the workplace and outlined conceptual solutions for an optimal work environment, building support among employees along the way.
Methods of Engagement
Continuous Hours of Usability Study
High Alpha’s Challenges & Solutions
During High Alpha’s Research project, we identified and solved for 8 workplace challenges they faced in 2019. Here were 3 of their top challenges and the accompanying solutions. If these challenges sound familiar to you and your organization, drop us a line.
Although people appreciated the easy collaboration and clean aesthetic, the shared workstations did not provide enough privacy, focus space, and personal ergonomic preference. People wanted more of a choice in workstation types, as they felt the existing ones were not suitable for a variety of working styles. Another issue with the shared workstations was that people would frequently put their belongings down instead of sitting there, making it unavailable for others to use. Workstations between two other seats were less occupied than those that were near an aisle or wall. Essentially, people picked their preferred spots and stuck there leaving many seats unoccupied while the workstations viewed as “the best” were in use.
Employees came up with ideas for and prototyped spaces they wanted for their teams in the Idea Generating and Prototyping Workshops. They designed design spaces dedicated to specific teams, so each team had the flexibility to customize what equipment they needed and how much privacy they had. Each team space included a team room (like a war room), bench seating, soft seating, a private office, two private call rooms, a shared department conference room, as well as a team workspace area with their own work stations to personalize. In the floor plan below (4th picture in if you scroll to the right) shows how High Alpha decided to give each person their own desk in addition to plenty of collaboration spaces. Employees wanted amenities and supplies that were team-specific and based on their function.
They thought the team spaces should be close to each other and easily accessible to other teams to foster easy collaboration and prevent feeling siloed. Each team has a designated color to differentiate who sits where.
Below are photos of High Alpha’s new building and the final team spaces that they designed based on findings from their DORIS Research Project.
High Alpha’s workplace did not have the adequate space or optimal layout for Sprint Week—a quarterly ideation, prototyping, and concept testing event—or for other types of parties or events with clients. Sprint Week is a major part of their business and the building of entrepreneurship at High Alpha, so not having an event space that properly accommodates it was a significant challenge for them. They were unable to host events that met the high standards of their brand because the space was too small and not hospitable enough; when people arrived for an event it would cause excess interruptions due to the elevator location. Events involved a great deal of setup effort and some of the items needed were located on another floor.
During the Idea Generating and Prototyping Workshops, employees separated internal meeting spaces from visitor spaces. This solution reduces noise and keeps sensitive information private, and so they didn’t have to worry about having confidential documents or personal belongings left on their workstations. People designed prototypes of externally facing spaces as more formal and reserved, featuring traditional furniture like conference room tables and chairs. They built meeting rooms with frosted glass to provide privacy for guests. Common areas and events spaces were located nearby for easy access.
Below are photos of High Alpha’s new building and the final spaces they use for events that they designed based on findings from their DORIS Research Project.
Access Across Departments
The team wanted to increase accessibility and visibility across all departments, from the top down. Physical space divides were a challenge that could not easily be solved for in the existing space. One benefit though, is that High Alpha had glass meeting room walls in other areas of the workplace which made it easier to see where people were while they were in meetings.
The prototypes employees built for this solution focused on balancing privacy and collaboration through a workplace with spaces dedicated to specific functions. Employees thought that workstation areas should be clearly separated from collaboration areas, whether they’re meeting rooms or open, impromptu spaces. This would make everyone in the organization, including Partners, more accessible. Each space would also have a clearly designated purpose so people understand how the space is supposed to be used and how they are expected to act within it. They also said that meeting rooms and guest areas should be separate from internal spaces so that events wouldn’t be disruptive to employees.
Below are photos of High Alpha’s new building and the final department spaces that they designed based on findings from their DORIS Research Project. There are clear spaces for everyone in the organization including partners, so anyone and everyone can collaborate comfortably!
High Alpha told DORIS they had their suspicions of what they wanted to change before they project, but they didn’t have any data, so DORIS provided it, enabling them to make data driven decisions. They moved into a new space in the Bottleworks District in Downtown Indianapolis.
Through the project they learned people love the open work environment, but they want a dedicated workstation to put their belongings. In the new space they invested in spaces that support privacy, like call rooms and call pods. They said the solutions they implemented can be pointed directly back to the project with DORIS. A few members from our team were fortunate enough to visit High Alpha’s new space!
“When it comes to thinking about a new space it makes sense to get employees involved in the process. We had our suspicions of what we wanted to change, but we didn’t have any data. DORIS provided the concrete data. I would recommend DORIS to a company who is struggling with wanting to make data driven decisions and not based just on their gut instinct.” – Amanda Carroll, Executive Assistant and Senior Real Estate Manager