Reimagining Space for Agile: A Workshop with Puppet

Heather Leachman-Beck

Heather Leachman-Beck

Director, Workplace Innovations

I have over 15 years of experience in design and office interiors ranging in specialties from interior design to customer success. I specialize in enhancing user experience through a design-thinking approach for workplace design and strategies to optimize productivity, communication, and engagement. When I’m not in the office you can find me taking pictures of all the flowers and/or my sweet little girl.


Puppet is perfectly illustrative of the forward growth that’s recoloring Portland’s professional reputation. They’re not simply pioneers in software infrastructure and automation but they’re also strong leaders in employee experience. This once relatively intangible measurement of company success now has the ability to positively make or break a company—especially one that leans so heavily on competitive talent acquisition and retention. Here, Puppet is the gold standard, and their early adoption of Agile has helped them to better serve their customers and create a more successful, inclusive office culture. 

The Excitement of Agile

Agile is a relatively new concept that primarily has been most successful among software development. The magic and the mystery of Agile is that it’s so new and malleable. So the companies for which it’s working have been helping to define it as they go, seamlessly weaving a number of practices into their unique processes to improve speed, flexibility, and customer focus. The result for Puppet: a structured sequence of activities that guides them to be successful and productive in full-focus individual work, progress monitoring, workflow readjustment, and sprint reviews and retrospectives all of which is peppered with high collaboration and stellar communication. 


Puppet’s Success with Agile

While Puppet’s ops teams and leadership bear the brunt of process readjustment to better integrate Agile, an outsized effort has come from Laura Nichols, Puppet’s Senior Manager of Global Workplace. She’s the mastermind behind the way Puppet utilizes space to better support Agile. And a month or so ago, as she and I were having a conversation about the space implications of Agile, we hatched a plan to host a workshop in our space. 

The Workshop: An Open Conversation about Workstyle

Flash forward, and Megan Hogue, Regional Applications Consultant, my partner in crime from Steelcase and I organized a workshop in which we invited Laura and a number of her coworkers from the engineering leadership team to share how their office space is—or is not—working for them. 

We uncovered a number of compelling wrinkles and hiccups. Among them:

  1. The meeting rooms are booked in the early morning when they’re touching base with the Puppet Belfast office and are generally underutilized throughout the rest of the day.

  2. There are lots of on-the-fly conversations that happen in various settings. Some of these can be disruptive to heads-down focus work. 

  3. Even though there are dedicated quiet rooms, they’re currently underutilized. 

  4. There’s a notable lack of meeting spaces that feature whiteboard space that can stay up, untouched, for more than a few hours. 

Megan and I took these findings (and the many more insights we uncovered during our workshop) and got to work.


The Application Concepts

Our designs crafted to support Agile honor one main principle: space over time shapes behavior. Behavior over time becomes culture. We’re endlessly lucky that we work with Steelcase, a true research powerhouse and a wealth of resources for not simply guiding and validating our application concepts but bringing them to life with stunning, high-quality furniture.

Our application concepts are centered around mobile furniture and modularity while remaining cognizant of their budgets and the high-quality pieces they already own. We proposed spaces for brainstorming and daily stand-ups stay starkly separated from one-on-one and focus areas. 


What’s Next

While there are clearly internal discussions to happen at Puppet before the application concepts are implemented, the value of simply gathering users of the space together to discuss what’s working and what might be improved can’t be ignored. Shockingly few conversations are transpiring about how space design can enhance and elevate Agile. We’re here to facilitate.

Do you think your team could benefit from an Agile workshop? Get in touch, let’s start a conversation!

ArticlesCraig Hawker