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When the co-founders of Wellington companies EightyOne, DOT Loves Data, and Octave designed their boundary-pushing new shared studio above Press Hall, they set out to create a space “where our people are able to do their career defining work". The end result: an enviable workspace you might see in London, New York or Hong Kong, and less typically in the creative capital. It’s a space that most people dream of going to work.
When you press level 1 on the elevator tucked at the back corner of Press Hall and make your way up to the studio that houses EightyOne, DOT Loves Data and Octave, you’ll find yourself landed smack bang in a new inner city bar.
But it’s not.
It’s the café-come-bar-come-hangout area where the 55 staff employed by the three co-owned creative, data and experience agencies are able to spend time mulling ideas and get the headspace they need to do career defining work.
“By making it comfortable, inspiring and removing any obstacles that would get in the way, we’ve hopefully created a space where people can do their best work,” says co-founder Matt West.
It’s this ethos that underpins all three companies - set up jointly by Matt West, Carlos Constable, Chris Bleackley, Jason Wells, Dr Paul Bracewell, Mike Brough, Tom de Groen and Richard Blake - and the very design of their office space.
There’s free yoga and massages at lunchtimes, spaces to find quiet or to get energised, an artificial cricket pitch to smash a few balls, a gym, lots of greenery, and hammocks to get some rest.
There’s also an in-house photography/videography studio, cutting edge computing equipment and software, and even Bose noise cancelling headphones so everyone can implement their own ‘shhhh’ policy when they’re at their most focused.
“The space was designed by Carlos, Tom and Jason with the help of Inside Design architects as well as some of our own talent. We want our people to be proud of it. They can bring in their friends and family for a drink or a visit. Bring the kids or their dogs,” Matt says.
Each of the three companies within the studio has grown organically over the past seven years – EightyOne, the creative studio, being the first in the group.
“When I left Hong Kong, I remember my CEO saying to me ‘don’t just go back to Wellington and do the same thing. It needs to be better’. Setting up EightyOne was our chance to aspire to being world class.
“Then DOT kicked off followed closely behind by Octave. There were never grand plans to expand - the subsequent businesses were opportunities that presented themselves with great people we wanted to be involved with,” Matt says.
In rolled more staff and additional business partners: now 55 in total who share the studio above Press Hall and work closely with some of New Zealand’s brightest brands (Fix & Fogg, Nike, ACC, New Zealand Rugby, Te Papa, PowerShop and more). Not to mention a growing portfolio of overseas clients.
“We’re always trying to work smarter – thanks to Carlos, the studio is super organised and we’re always looking to make efficiency gains. We’re always improving,” Matt says.
If it’s not already obvious, the team at EightyOne, DOT Loves Data and Octave take an almost obsessive people-centric approach to their business.
“We want our people to feel a sense of ownership. We like to think we look after our staff and are pleased to say we still have some staff from our first year. We’re all growing together, and having a good time,” Matt says.