Citrix

Customer Experience

Please tell us about your work environment for digital practitioners and how it’s contributed to positive outcomes, and help us understand what makes your example noteworthy or exceptional.: 
The Citrix Customer Experience organization understands that our digital creative team solves problems using resources they gather primarily outside the workplace. Books, movies, museums, conversations and the like are the fuel creative folks need to solve problems. If we don’t contribute, we're using up that tank of fuel expecting they'll somehow replenish it for us.
 
The environment is one way we provide that fuel. And it's not just about refilling the creative reservoir, it's also about providing a place that attracts and retains top talent. Catherine Courage, SVP of Citrix Customer Experience tasked her Creative Director, Brian Moose to design for the designers, an environment that would be functional and delightful.
 
Here's a list of environmental solutions put into play with the express purpose of supporting our digital practitioners.
 
Custom Collaborative Design Studio
 
Inspired by the Stanford d.school‘s open, collaborative design space, we knew that creating a culture of innovation and driving behavioral change at Citrix would require a radically new approach to the way work happens. Catherine championed a project to build a collaborative design studio at our Silicon Valley headquarters.
 
The design studio provides 2000 sq. ft. of open space where team members from multiple disciplines come together to share ideas, iterate, and innovate. Everything in the space—tables, whiteboards, comfy chairs and couches—is modular and completely customizable, allowing teams to adapt on the fly, and shape their workflows in real time as work happens.
 
The space is low-tech by design, filled with markers, sticky notes, and every quick-and-dirty prototype material under the sun—from construction paper to pipe cleaners. It’s also intentionally designed to be unbook-able, since no one can “schedule” innovation. The casualness of the space puts people in the right frame of mind to go outside of their traditional comfort zones and build stronger relationships with teammates. Even the most analytical team members can't help but sketch their thoughts and ideas on the table whiteboards while they sit and chat.
 
The design studio is an example of how a nontraditional workspace can foster collaboration, enable new modes of communication, and improve the quality of the products we produce for customers. Instead of preaching the merits of collaboration and working across teams, it just started happening. Teams that were typically “collaborating” in cubes via email and instant message were now emerging from their cubes and meeting in the design space to truly collaborate.  They would leave their computers behind and gather around a whiteboard to ideate and draw concepts. People were ideating, prototyping and experimenting without being told because the space fostered the right behavior. The employees were leading the change to design thinking. They were the leaders.
 
No Cubes
 
Cubicles have been eliminated on the Customer Experience floor where digital designers, researchers and developers work collaboratively, setting a new Facilities standard at Citrix. We are an all height adjustable bench work environment giving everyone the option of sitting or standing as they work. Every desk on the floor has an uninterrupted view from the top floor of valley foothills, the brand new Levi's Stadium, roller coasters of Great America, Moffett Field (the birthplace of the Silicon Valley) among others. The view our folks see on a daily basis of valley greats like Apple, eBay, PayPal, Facebook, Google and the like are a reminder that we need to do our best to retain them.
 
Tactile Input
 
Living in and designing for the virtual world provides little reminder to address the need for tactile input.  We've installed tactile functional art pieces that everyone interacts with daily. A wall of hundreds of vintage keys in a pattern pointing toward the Design Studio is an impressive visual that greets everyone as they exit the elevator. It’s a reminder of the power of individuals in all shapes, sizes, age and history working together to make something really inspiring. It's also great opportunity to deputize visitors into our culture. Visitors are invited by their hosts to pick out a key to take with them. Each is tagged with a delightful little aluminum Citrix logo providing a physical reminder of their experience with us.
 
Visitor Friendly
 
Designing for delight is really important in our culture. Every problem is looked at through this lens including how to accommodate drop in employees and guests. The design team rejected the standard issue "drop in station" and replaced it with a 1960's living room reproduction. Couch, chairs, carpet, pillows and coffee table including card games. Visitors should be made to feel welcome. What better environment to welcome to than a cozy living room!
 
Global Team Reminder
 
The majority of the Customer Experience team is in the Santa Clara office but members are also located in seven other Citrix offices across the globe. To help eliminate the "us and them" mentality that pops up from time to time when you have a distributed team, we’ve devised a method to keep in mind the folks you don't see often. "Employee profiles" for everyone are mounted to mini vintage clipboards that fill the wall. This installation is mirrored in each office our team works from. Not only is it another great tactile art installation, but it’s also a great daily reminder of the people you may not see every day. In a location where there may just be a few designers, their coworkers will understand that they aren't just dealing with one or two person design team but members of a larger organization.
 
Creativity Server (We usually keep this a secret. But, for UX Magazine readers, we'll make an exception)
 

By far, the most influential and popular aspect of our outstanding environment for digital practitioners is our custom-built server room. But, it's not just any ordinary server room. It was expressly built to power creativity.
 
The server, visible from behind a secure window is accessible by a keypad entered secret code known only by the CX team.
 
Visitors are invited to enter this server room to experience its creative generating power only under the strict agreement that we can not be held responsible for any disorientation or euphoria they may experience ;). Only at this point will a designer enter the password into the keyboard of this enormous, wall sized machine replete with vintage computer tape reels and blinking lights to "fire it up". As they do, the wall supporting the keyboard and monitor gives way, and allows entry into a dark environment of Moroccan themed lanterns, red embossed walls, an amazing tin ceiling, hand crafted floor to ceiling dark wood panels, bookshelves filled with mementos and curious objects, a fragrance that at once smells a cross between ancient tobacco and exotic coffee and the sound of crickets one eventually notices. This place is timeless and disorientating. Exactly the environment prescribed to induce right brain creative thought. There’s nothing in this room to give you any indication of the passing of time; another hallmark of right brain activity, timelessness. There are curious objects including a 1940 Bakelite television that has a switch atop it giving you the choice of "yesterday or today" (yesterday supplies an endless loop of 1940 movies, today switches to a closed circuit view of the locked door to see who's trying to gain access) and there's the large glass jar of little monkeys. Guests are encouraged to take a monkey as they leave (after they sign the server room log book) to remind them to have fun! We're noticing that these little monkeys are also serving a second purpose. They are showing up in offices as mementos of visits. Other past visitors of the server room see those little critters and an unspoken bond is created with a wink toward the monkey.  Just like in the movie Fight Club, the first rule is…
 
Perhaps our real first rule is, know your staff and anticipate what your folks need to be successful. As they are charged with delighting our customers, our charge is to delight them.
 
Success Demands More
 
Since the opening of our first design space, six additional design spaces have opened at Citrix offices around the globe, with three more scheduled to open soon. Two more “server rooms” are also in the works. This demonstrates the company's fiscal and strategic commitment to design thinking. But note too that it has been employees who’ve demanded that these spaces be built. People who had the opportunity to work in one of these space immediately saw their value, and, self-motivated, led the charge to create one in their locale. A great example of design leadership emerging via experiences rather than mandates.
 
Not Just for Designers
 
These spaces have had such an impact, not just for the design team, but for teams across the company. It is regularly used by groups such as IT, HR and Finance. We never would have imagined this when first brought the concept to life. An added bonus is that this initiative helps further the broader WorkAnywhere effort, aimed at making all our offices better-suited to collaboration and flexible workstyles.