On Tuesday, Hudl CEO David Graff along other Nebraska dignitaries including Governor Pete Ricketts, cut the ribbon on a new 170,000 square foot headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska; an innovative, activity-based workspace where no one “owns” a desk.
SPN caught up with Hudl Facilities Designer Lead Jeff Scott, one of two in-house architects to learn more about this new concept.
“We really tried to listen to our employees and make sure that we were developing a space as innovative and forward-thinking as they were,” said Scott. “We wanted to make sure the space challenged people in a positive way, but also allowed them to do the best work that they could do in a comfortable, happy environment that they wanted to be in day after day.”
Founded 10 years ago, Hudl provides video review and performance analysis tools for sports teams and athletes at every level. Approximately 350 of Hudl’s over 1,000 employees moved into the 4th through 7th floors at the end of November. Scott thinks they can comfortably accommodate 600 to 800 employees total.
The 4th and 5th floors are the main work areas, the 6th floor is reserved for a huge audio/visual production facility and game room, and the 7th floor contains the cafeteria. Nelnet is moving into the 2nd floor, and the 1st and 3rd floors are open for leasing.
Facilities Designer Gabe Buglewicz told SPN that Hudl employees enjoy the benefit of lunch and afternoon snacks every day from an in-house chef. They intentionally put all the food and beverages on the 7th floor to encourage social interaction.
“We noticed at other locations that people were leaving to go work at coffee shops, so we designed many of the spaces to resemble that environment,” said Buglewicz. “The location features a variety of environments including more casual settings with lounge chairs and distraction-free pods.”
The launch of the new building was two-and-a-half years in the making and included in-depth research on how their own employees worked.
“What we found with assigned desks, […] they’re only in use about 50 percent of the time,” said Scott. “So it’s just a really inefficient way to use the space, and we wanted to make sure that we turn those inefficiencies into efficiencies in other parts of the building.”
Creating an entirely new way to work came with risks. The biggest obstacle they’ve had to overcome is employees not fully cleaning their workspaces after each work session.
“A lot of people do come back to the exact same desk every day, but what we ask them to do at the end of the day is clean off their desk, put their stuff in a locker,” said Scott. “That way, that desk, if they’re gone or if they’re on vacation or they’re out sick the next day, is open to anyone else to use.”
Hudl believes that the positives outweigh the negatives, though. Without being tied down to a location, employees are free to make each day’s work environment their own.
“It encourages collaboration and to think more about what they are doing instead of just automatically plopping down in a desk when that might not be the right environment for what they are working on,” said Scott. “You may be on the marketing team and need to work with someone on the product team, you can now go sit next to them and find a spot to work together and put all your work up there.”
Graff said that encouragement and collaboration go beyond work, it’s about creating something more.
“It’s a lot of fun to walk in here every day and directly see the team that is impacting so many coaches and athletes around the world, and to see them all in one space,” Graff said. “When we say we always want to call Lincoln home, we mean it.”
Brian Lee is the Managing Director of Silicon Prairie News.