After the acquisition of Montreal start-up ‘Smooch’, Zendesk sought to upgrade the offices for their new Canadian team. In early 2020, the design and planning of this 26,000 sq.ft. office were well underway when the global COVID pandemic came to turn the way we work in offices completely upside down. As offices around the world were shutting down and employees were working from home, Zendesk decided to cancel the build-out and reconsidering the approach to work, and the role of the office in the years to come.
Zendesk workplaces have always been designed as consistent multi-sensory brand experiences for our employees, customers and stakeholders. They are an important expression of what Zendesk stands for and must reflect our brand aesthetic. Our pre-pandemic spaces were aimed to attract talent, showcase our brand and facilitate a heavy in-office work culture. The latest Zendesk offices have been designed as hubs for connection and collaboration. Spaces to come together, inhale Zendesk culture and work better together. This re-design approach was our answer to a company wide research aimed to find out previous utilization of our offices and our employees thoughts about ideal collaboration setups.
To achieve this we focused on three main priorities: achieving a sense of togetherness, embracing the best of a digital-first workplace model without sacrificing the best features of meeting in person, keeping collaboration at the core with the aim of attracting top talent and celebrating the top class employee experience that have long defined our culture
Whether hosting an event, working on an interior design project, or sending out a gift, a selected bunch of design ingredients are always included to deliver a true Zendesk experience. A few examples would be
Honest materials like real wood, warm felt, rugged concrete, soft leather—our furnishings are straightforward, look good, and are a pleasure to touch;
Simple furniture made with natural, quality materials is the obvious choice. Think Scandinavian hygge meets Japanese minimalism and craftsmanship;
Avoiding slapping our logos everywhere. A few neat, strategic placements will suffice—and help the logo stand out;
Plants are also an integral ingredient of any Zendesk space. They add natural color, bring an organic element, and are a good way to hide an ugly pillar or add texture to an empty corner;
On top of these basic layers of design ingredients we put effort into shaping each space and experience in a unique special way. A strong connection with local design heritage and creative workforce is a crucial step for each new Zendesk office design scheme. This is why the Zendesk Brand team takes the time to travel to the designated location, in this case Montreal, to connect in person with the selected architect firm. The aim is to establish a strong collaborative creative bond, crucial for the ideation of a recognizable Zendesk space while adding a unique Montreal extra flavor.
We dug deep in Montreal brutalist and industrial heritage, its concrete street furniture, the iconic Habitat 67 building and extensive use of stainless steel. We sprinkled all that on top of warm standard Danish design elements that have been identifying the Zendesk brand for many years as an homage to its origins. In addition to Montreal's own vernacular architectural references brought in through materials and finishes, we also collaborated with local artists Catherine Potvin and Atelier Retailles, bringing in bespoke Montreal inspired artworks and murals to brighten up workplace’s social areas. The result is a unique Zendesk space connected deeply with the city it lives in.
The presence of plants and the focused space of the central garden are key to the integration of health and wellness in the workplace. A focus on biophilia, natural materials, clean air and good acoustics occurs throughout the space. This, along with abundant natural light and exterior views, provides a healthy work environment. These elements taken together were key in allowing the project to be both LEED and WELL certified.
Zendesk Design Lead: Giuseppe Cariello
Zendesk Sr Manager of Capital projects: Charmi Deepak
Zendesk Furniture & construction project manager: Sarah Johnson
Architect firm: MRDK
Photography: Alex Lesage