Over these past several months, there has been a lot of activity in our Poly Experience Centers as we’ve recently refreshed the design of our Shanghai, Beijing, and London locations. Soon, we’ll tackle our New York City, Bay Area, and Herndon, VA centers, but we couldn’t wait to share the excitement.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of an experience center, think of it as a combination of a showroom and a hands-on lab. In our global experience centers, you’ll meet with our senior leaders or solution experts as they walk you through various possibilities that are tailored to your business. Here, you can play with different combinations of products and experience what it would be like to get the most productivity and efficiency from your workforce – whether they’re in an office, working from home, or in hybrid environments.
To take a first look, we sat down with the Global Director of Poly’s Experience Program Renée Niebylski to get an in-depth look at the design of our newly refreshed Experience Centers.
What was the impetus for this redesign project?
Renée: It all began when we decided to move our centers to new locations. This gave us the opportunity to rethink the design of our centers, and how they could be reimagined to best convey who Poly is as a company and what our briefing program is about. Our former centers that were built almost 10 years ago were great for a “present to” style of a Briefing Program, and they needed to be updated to accommodate our current “experience with” methodology.
What makes the Poly Experience Center designs different from other briefing centers?
Renée: Poly’s experience centers are special because we take a holistic approach to demonstrating how our products integrate into workspaces. Whereas for many other companies, their briefing centers are designed as showrooms that display how their solutions tack onto or plug into a workspace. Our experience centers are our real workspaces! This allows our visitors to interact with workplace designs and lets them experience opportunities for how they can evolve their collaborative solutions.
Another thing that is unique about our experience centers is our “experience with” briefing approach… only a small handful of companies take this approach. It can be broken down into four steps:
First, we start by getting to know our guests, their business, and what they’re going through. We want to have a firm grasp on the day-to-day reality of their employees. Where are they working and how? Are they set up to be productive given their work style and workplace? Is the layout of the office conducive to their employees?
Second, we share Poly’s corporate experiences to illustrate how our guests can address their own challenges. Like so many other companies, Poly has some employees based in offices, others at home, and many who are hybrid working. Employees may be using multiple platforms, and many of them need products that will work for their circumstances. That’s why we invite our guests to walk through our experience center, which not only includes our employee’s workspaces, but also demonstration areas for our work from home solutions, virtual or hybrid classroom setups, and telehealth offerings. In this segment of the tour, we are showing how Poly has thoughtfully resolved many of the issues we’ve all been facing together.
Third, we move into a dedicated demonstration area where our guests can experience solutions across a variety of technologies and platform providers. Here, they’ll see and experience first-hand how achievable their collaboration goals are. This allows them to try things out for themselves and we discuss how to move forward as partners to resolve their collaboration needs.
Why would customers want or need an “experience with” style of briefing?
Renée: This methodology works because it’s not about a product. It’s about an environment – a full solution. We are living the same reality as our customers. We have multiple employee types around the world. Multiple video and audio ecosystems are used differently by different departments. It can be a complex environment, but we can help make it easier with the right tools. We’re here to supply those tools, sure, but we’re also here to share what we’ve learned.
What considerations went into designing Poly’s new briefing centers? Can you share more about your design choices and the process?
Renée: Poly had the pleasure of working with some fantastic firms who listened to our “experience with” methodology and helped us create a space that matched our vision. Our old briefing centers were separated from the rest of the employee workspaces and were viewed as a ‘customer-only’ area. Our new approach to design veers off the path from this traditional briefing center by removing the glass doors that used to separate our customers from our employees.
For every space, we thought about who on our side of the house would need to use it, who would need to see it, and how it would convey the excitement and energy of successful communications. We also focused on how we could demonstrate how employees could work successfully in those same areas.
For example, we took some design risks in our new London experience center where we now have an open work area where guests can see Poly employees at work. The environment is cleverly laid out in such a way that experience center staff and guests aren’t hovering and hindering work productivity. Instead, there’s a dedicated demonstration area that is used to explain the technologies that are being used by employees.
The changes we’ve made in London are similar to the design enhancements we recently completed in our Beijing and Shanghai experience centers. This collection of modern and elegant spaces is our blueprint for how we’ll refresh more of Poly’s experience centers around the world.
That’s fascinating to hear how you’re using the space in such an innovative way. Is there anything different about how the centers were decorated?
Renée: For the furnishings, the team focused on how people work, not just where they work. We incorporated options to support casual conversations with co-workers or customers as well as traditional desk areas mixed with high-top workstations. We added casual seating options to meeting rooms and gave each of them their own vibe. We know that every team and every employee has a different work style. We wanted to be sure that our new locations reflect that diversity.
In the second part of our interview, we’ll cover how the pandemic shaped and changed the design plans, and how Poly is designing spaces for accessibility and inclusion.