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Five tips for building a more inclusive workspace

Five tips for building a more inclusive workspace

To become a truly inclusive company, it is not enough just to hire people from diverse backgrounds and different cultures. There is a lot of talk about inclusion these days, but not much depth about the ultimate goal of it: allowing people to be themselves and feel comfortable. In order to get to true inclusion, we need to think differently about how to approach efforts to create safe spaces that reflect the culture and values of each company.


At Thoughtworks, we want to include all of society, both in our community and through our technology. That's why we give people a place where they can belong and grow, to be respected and valued. As we have grown as an organization, the desire to be a better place for all of our Thoughtworkers has grown as well. We remain focused on supporting our people and ensuring they can come to work as the authentic people they are, unafraid to express themselves. In 2022, at Thoughtworks Ecuador, we had the opportunity to move to a new, renovated and modern office for all people in and out of the city of Quito to share. So we wanted to get as much information and opinions as possible as a basis for the design of this new space.

In this blog, we want to share five tips that we learned throughout this process, which could be useful to you when you want to make a more inclusive space:


1. Create a sense of belonging for everyone


As a company, we actively seek to develop a more reflective and inclusive concept of society, to promote diversity, equity and inclusion from within our organization with the firm conviction of achieving social change. Our culture is strong and our values are embedded in everything we do. One of our great strengths is the diversity of cultures inside and outside Ecuador, so the area for the new office is configured with a design that reinforces the identity of the multinationality that occupies the space. Our goal: To ensure that the intervention of certain spaces define the image of the new home for Thoughtworks and that Thoughtworkers can feel it as their own, reinforcing the strong personality of the company.


This can be seen in the incorporation of the brand's own colors, which contrasts the existing monochromatic elements, achieving a striking result, perfectly balanced. Colors that were also used in the main furniture of the meeting areas to create comfortable spaces for work and communication. In order to design a space that meets the needs of everyone, we incorporated certain essential aspects. For example: gender-neutral restrooms, the adaptation of facilities for accessibility for people with physical disabilities, elevators to facilitate mobility between floors, among other things.

2. Dialogue will always be essential


Allowing a diverse space brings you great advantages, among them, that people can express their opinions freely. This was essential for us when designing inclusive spaces, because the people who understand and can best represent the different needs and experiences of others, are themselves. So that's what we did. This gave us a clearer picture of their needs and concerns, allowing us to rethink certain spaces.


Among the learnings we gained, we were struck by the need for spaces to have informal meetings, a relaxation room to clear the mind, open spaces on the terrace side, along with recreational spaces such as a foosball and ping pong table. Finally, it was mentioned that hybrid meetings would be predominant, so it was necessary to adapt the cameras, screens and microphones so that people can have the best experience when connecting remotely with clients, coworkers or simply improve their meeting experience.

3. Be flexible and open to change


The reality is, you can never be inclusive enough. There are always going to be new implementations needed and new ideas along the way. Flexibility of space was critical and will allow us to change and adapt as we evolve with people's needs. Also the flexibility of use of spaces, while many rooms are intended for meetings with tables and chairs, there are others a little simpler and open to have collaboration areas or huddles, great for brainstorming or a meeting with suppliers, reading areas and relaxation spaces in general. 


We have adjustable tables at various heights, desks with side legs to leave a space in the middle for comfort, we have lockers of all heights and we made sure that the kitchen and social spaces were accessible and usable for everyone. 

4.  Stay true to your culture and essence


While it is important to have a functional and attractive space, it is also very valuable to have aspects that represent who you are as a brand and organization. That's why we decided to change certain aspects to make our office as authentic as possible.



First the reception area, which was one of the most important points. We wanted to develop a "reception without reception"; discarding traditional solutions and opting for a visually attractive minimalist proposal where we have a loom made by Ecuadorian artisans, which welcomes us at the entrance.



We have an assisted virtual tool, which helps through a touch screen format to connect you to key points of our office, makes a call to our Office Manager and the TechOps area for quick access to the people in charge of providing immediate solutions available to any internal or external person. 

Understanding the individuality of the brand, imagining your daily life in this space, providing warmth through an integral space, with pure and sincere forms. This is what I consider essential to have turned this workspace into a home.
Ana Villalva
Architect 3G

On the other hand, we wanted to maintain aspects of our old office, which in the end, was the one that saw us grow for more than 7 years. That is why we decided to bring two murals made by a great Ecuadorian artist, known as Apitatán, where he portrayed our diversity of flora and fauna, mixed with the diversity of cultures in Ecuador. He also made another mural that represents women leaders throughout history in Ecuador, which seeks to empower women in the office every day to continue working hard and get where they want to go.  

5. It's not just about physical appearance, it's about everything else


Although the physical aspect of the place is a crucial element for inclusivity, ultimately it is the people who create the safe spaces. It is very important to prepare and educate all employees, so that they can be great allies for all types of communities, whether they are communities of people with physical or mental disabilities or  LGBTIQ+ communities. Being informed and understanding how to support is always going to be the basis for everything to work.


At Thoughtworks Ecuador, we are constantly training, opening spaces for dialogue and fostering internal communities so that people can feel really comfortable, beyond the physical space. Simply asking pronouns and using inclusive language that includes feminine, masculine and non-binary genders is a big step towards true inclusion.


In May 2022 we opened the doors of our new home, and now, almost two months after the inauguration of this new space, we are very proud of what we have achieved, although we still have a long way to go to include all voices, we believe we are well on our way. Special thanks to the people who collaborated with their opinions from all areas and to the artists who finally portrayed our ideas in a real and beautiful project, who were our architects of the  3G studio. We hope that these learnings can be useful for any company that wants to start their way and reinforce their desire for labor inclusion. 


Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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