#17: Stéphanie Chartrand Talks About Office, Commercial and Industrial Space Layout



Real Talk with CHIA #17: Stéphanie Chartrand, founding president and interior designer at EspaZio Design, shares with us in the spirit of Christmas the benefits of a well-designed layout of business premises. Development and redevelopment is an excellent ROI on your commercial real estate investment.

This episode aired December 13, 2022 and is rebroadcasting on YouTube, here is its transcript:

Chia-Yi TUNG 

Hello everyone. Welcome to straight talk with Chia. Today our episode is the special Christmas theme and we are going to talk about office design. Welcome Stephanie with us.

Stephanie Chartrand

Thank you Chia. Thanks for the invitation.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes it pleases me. Then I'm very happy to be Mum Christmas with you. 

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes. Then me the little Christmas elf.

Chia-Yi TUNG

How pleasant! So let's talk about this festivity close to the holiday season. I know that there is a peculiarity in your offices. Your EspaZio Design part and there it had great growth. And then there in your offices there are several, several girls interior designers.

Stephanie Chartrand 

Yes.

Chia-Yi TUNG 

So tell me about how it's going in terms of the Christmas mood.

Stephanie Chartrand 

Office atmosphere, Christmas atmosphere.

Chia-Yi TUNG 

Yes yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

Ben listen, in the background, in the office, we are four designers. 

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

It's a team of four girls.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Okay.

Stephanie Chartrand 

It's not that we don't want guys. It really is like that. This is an area that is much more feminine than masculine.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Oh yes, okay.

Stephanie Chartrand

Well yes, anyway.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Okay.

Stephanie Chartrand 

There are still good designers, but it's still a bit more of a minority. So four girls to transmit the magic of Christmas. We decorated for Christmas, all that at the office. We also have a team Christmas party on Friday December 16th. So we are very excited!

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand 

Well yes, that's it. The festivities have begun! The magic of Christmas…

Chia-Yi TUNG 

Ah, I would have liked to see how it goes with you.

Stephanie Chartrand

How it's decorated.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Because I told myself that you know how to design, you are full of creativity and at the same time you have to be very organized too.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes. Yes.

Chia-Yi TUNG

So it must be very pretty in the office.

Stephanie Chartrand

And yes, well yes. 

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes ?

Stephanie Chartrand 

We have a very, very nice office. We just moved last May to new offices.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Okay.

Stephanie Chartrand

It really is a beautiful place all done… Inaudible (02:14)

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes. Okay. 

Stephanie Chartrand 

We rearranged everything to our liking. Yes! It's just perfect! So the well-shod cobbler.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

This time. Yeah, actually. Yeah yeah.

Chia-Yi TUNG

It's good. Then just today I have the pleasure of welcoming you to the studio to talk about the layout of the offices.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yeah.

Chia-Yi TUNG

And then ultimately, with everything that's been happening since Covid, the change in lifestyle.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Because besides, I remember that one of your slogans is that it's not just a workspace, it's a living space.

Stephanie Chartrand

It is a living space.

Chia-Yi TUNG

So how exactly does it work in your support for business leaders who are setting up a new office? Has it had any impact with the labor shortage, telecommuting and all that? So you're in a lot, a lot of coaching, reorganizing, I guess.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yeah. Indeed, this is a very big question you are asking. I could extrapolate on this for 1 hour, but unfortunately I will have to be more concise.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Okay.

Stephanie Chartrand

Indeed, the pandemic has brought about many changes in office design philosophy. And at EspaZio Design, given that we specialize in this niche: office layout, it has allowed us to push continuing education, research and development in all that direction.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes. 

Stephanie Chartrand

And so now we are really specialized in office layout, Inaudible (03:42) I would say. We support companies that want to move as much...

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

… but as much as redeveloping…

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

… so that it is more adapted to new working methods which are often the hybrid method, teleworking, but also sometimes in the office. So it's not at all the same layout needs. So that's why it's worth it for companies to rethink their layout precisely to motivate employees to come back to the office...

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes too.

Stephanie Chartrand 

So when the work environment is adapted to these new functions... 

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

… more collaboration than individual work.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Exact.

Stephanie Chartrand

Because now all the individual work can be done at home.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Absolutely.

Stephanie Chartrand

And even many people prefer to do it at home. So we come to the office precisely to collaborate, to socialize, to share knowledge, all that. So it takes arrangements that correspond to these… that will meet these new needs.

Chia-Yi TUNG

So, if I imagine correctly, from the moment you arrive at a company's lobby, you must immediately feel the branding; so the corporate brand, all the vibe and professionalism that this company wants to project, that's it. 

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes.

Chia-Yi TUNG

And throughout the office set, how do you set it up so that people can sit somewhere to collaborate more easily. 

Stephanie Chartrand

That's it.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes, and of course there are also discussion areas, dining areas... 

Stephanie Chartrand 

Yes.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Etc…

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes. There are many types of collaboration spaces. You were talking about the brand image to be impregnated in work environments. It's as good for the employees as it is for the visiting customers who also come.

Chia-Yi TUNG 

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

Because often, it's the first impression you have of a company. When you arrive in the lobby, the reception, all that… We sometimes create a customer zone if we want. It is important that it represents professionalism, the branding of the company precisely.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Exact.

Stephanie Chartrand 

Also for the employees because yes, we want the employees to come back to the office too to cultivate the feeling of belonging to this company. It's branding and culture that we want to establish in our company. 

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

Then in videoconference, in telework, it is a little more difficult to do that. So when the work environments really represent, as I said, the culture, the corporate image, all that, it creates a sense of belonging.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

This feeling is just so important because it's really the key to why people stay. You know at the level of employee retention which is becoming more and more an issue for companies as well, it is very important. 

Chia-Yi TUNG 

Yes. Well that's for sure.

Stephanie Chartrand

Because working from home, alone whether you work for one company or another, it's practically the same thing.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

While when you're in the office, you have the... I'll tell you an English word, but the vibe of the office.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yeah.

Stephanie Chartrand

And that is very important for the employer...

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yeah, that's it. I'm tempted to go there.

Stephanie Chartrand

...for employee retention, but also for attraction.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

You know, I remember it… Yes, EspaZio has been around for five years, but before that I worked for different companies for twelve years. When I was choosing the company I worked for, the work environment had an impact. You know, I spend 40 hours of my week in these...

Chia-Yi TUNG

If you don't overtime.

Stephanie Chartrand

That's it. Yes too. At that time, teleworking was not a common practice. So I spend a lot of time in the office, so it was important that it be pleasant, viable.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

It's part of good employee attraction.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes quite. I also heard because I also support many, many entrepreneurs. Then just recently, there is a business manager who shared me. He says Ah, I bought a building. You know, I thought we have enough space for the employees. Finally, I had difficulty attracting employees because of the location. Because there is also a question of… More and more young generations, it depends on the types of professions who prefer to be in a sector, then no car, no ci. While there are other types of professionals who prefer to go to the countryside itself, more to urban areas, than what is always known in the city center. So there are both.

Stephanie Chartrand

That's it. You know, often everything is relative with partners, suppliers, but also pools of employees.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

Is your pool of employees more suburban, rural, or downtown?

Chia-Yi TUNG

Exact.

Stephanie Chartrand

So it has a great impact the geolocation of a company, there, yes.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes. And so what fascinates me, and I'm curious to hear your advice on this, is that I imagine that precisely in order to promote the participation and retention of talent in the office, in your layout designs or redevelopment, do you not only invite company managers, but also employees to participate in the design?

Stephanie Chartrand

That's a very good question. This is a very nice point. Because yes, indeed, at EspaZio we even encourage involving employees in this whole process.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

Me, when I started EspaZio, I really wanted it… I wanted the work environments we create to increase the well-being of employees at work. That's really our mission, I would say our business philosophy, in all departments, the recommendations we give are really towards that. Then, over the years, we have implemented various strategies to involve these employees throughout the process. It also creates good change management.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Exact.

Stephanie Chartrand

Because by involving employees, it ensures that they understand the reason for all these changes in their work environment, are led to express their wishes, their fears, what works well and what works less well right now.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

There is a whole project start-up strategy phase, to keep them informed throughout the project too.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Exact.

Stephanie Chartrand

And at the end of the project, it's also good to question them, whether through questionnaires that we distribute to them.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

And then at the end of the project, it's a small gift that we also give to our customers, it's totally free: we send an online questionnaire to all employees to survey them regarding their satisfaction.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Okay.

Stephanie Chartrand

But also, we have put together a beautiful guide to the full use of workspaces, precisely so that employees know how to use each space properly.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

You know, you were talking about different collaborative spaces, sometimes there are unassigned positions. Employees are sometimes not used to managing all these spaces…

Chia-Yi TUNG

No. Exact.

Stephanie Chartrand

… and to know how to use them well to their 100%...

Chia-Yi TUNG

That's it.

Stephanie Chartrand

…to get the most out of it.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

So that's at the very end. But at the start, the start of the project, well, you have to sound them out.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Okay.

Stephanie Chartrand

Whether it's all the employees or sometimes we organize steering committees. Some key people are required to be part of a design development committee, all that, we combine all that.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

There are individual meetings that are also created with different directors and managers.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

All of this means that there is a whole implication part.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes. It's really fun.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yeah.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes, I think I would very much like to work with you.

Stephanie Chartrand

But yes, come, come.

Chia-Yi TUNG

That's what I like. In fact, which makes me think that the more the company is human, the more we can really create a work/life environment that is pleasant to use and stimulate collaboration and productivity.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Is not it ? Right now, I'm thinking of a fresh example that I just experienced. I had the chance to visit the new house of Radio-Canada, which is really of incredible architecture…

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes yes.

Chia-Yi TUNG

…because not only what do we see, but what do we not see is quite impressive. You know, Radio-Canada is still one of the most important digital content production houses in the world. We receive many, many visitors from everywhere precisely to demonstrate our production capacity. And during my visit, what fascinated me? It's that there was a lot, a lot of collaboration, involvement of employees, committees, precisely as you said in the six years, I believe, of design and construction architecture. But on top of that, once the new house was built and delivered to Radio-Canada, in the end there were several employees who came together to redesign a room in their image.

Stephanie Chartrand

Oh yes.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes that's it. And then there is actually like a wall all in wood, in wood chips. But they posed with the badge of… the Radio-Canada logo. Yes, it is, because it both absorbs sound and at the same time is visually very appealing.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Which makes it really very… I found that a lot, a lot…

Stephanie Chartrand

Appreciated.

Chia-Yi TUNG

…enjoyed that experience. Which makes me wonder here: in addition to the offices that we can think of traditionally, for example a professional office, whether it be accountants, lawyers, more and more web agencies or creative agencies or any kind of office Services…

Stephanie Chartrand

Energies.

Chia-Yi TUNG

… IT, etc… There are also actually professionals in different sectors. We can also think of pharmacists, we can also think of dentists. They all work in offices.

Stephanie Chartrand

That's it.

Chia-Yi TUNG

These are spaces that are eliminated.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes.

Chia-Yi TUNG

So in his space, for example, a pharmacist or a dentist or a veterinarian who uses your service, how do… what are the steps exactly to get them to shape their new work environment? Because I imagine it's a little different. I don't know, it's not my job, but I wonder because you know we all have an image like I arrive at the pharmacy and it looks the same. Then I walk into a dental clinic and it looks the same.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yeah.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Does it really need to always look the same?

Stephanie Chartrand

Well no.

Stephanie Chartrand

No, that's it. Yes, if we compare clinics and offices, these two niches are very similar, indeed. But there are still different features. Because yes, the work environment for the well-being of employees, all that. But unlike the office, there's a lot more to the patient aspect here.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes OK.

Stephanie Chartrand

There are more visitors than a regular office, so you have to think a lot about patient flow, patient reception too. And depending on whether it's a medical clinic, whether it's a dental clinic, veterinary clinic too, they all have different technical features too...

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

… the equipment to be installed…

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

… the Inaudible (16:20) also in terms of storage, accessibility, all that.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

So it's really… Yes, it looks like offices, but there are also their technical particularities that must be taken into account.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes, I have the impression that the technical part is a little more important than the pure professional offices.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes that's it.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Like for example there is a distributor of dental systems.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes. That's it.

Chia-Yi TUNG

You know you still have to respect...

Stephanie Chartrand

Effectively.

Chia-Yi TUNG

… all the configurations, the space required.

Stephanie Chartrand

That's why when you work with distributors of this equipment...

Chia-Yi TUNG

Great.

Stephanie Chartrand

… precisely in collaboration in a project. Which makes it a bit of a really joint project. Then you were talking about design, is it the same thing there?

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yeah, that's it.

Stephanie Chartrand

We, in this project, we bring the design precisely, the corporate image that we want to transmit to the employees, but here much more to the patients as well. And all the technical side, equipment, it is made precisely for the dental clinics precisely, it is with distributors directly.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Okay, yeah. It's really cool. It takes even more employees.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes. Well that's it.

Chia-Yi TUNG

To shape the...

Stephanie Chartrand

Honestly, even for office projects, it's a lot of collaboration with different partners.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes. There are different distributors, but there are other professionals too. You know often, in projects, we work with architects, engineers, mechanics, electricity, structure… In short, there is a panoply of collaborators who join… And that also makes the project richer. You know, with all that knowledge and that sharing of responsibilities, yes.

Chia-Yi TUNG

The beautiful diversity what.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes.

Chia-Yi TUNG

It's how I like. So, in closing, I think that, in fact, today is just the perfect timing to invite you to the studio. Because you know, often at the end of the year, we start thinking: oh what's the new goal for the new year?

Stephanie Chartrand

  1. Yeah.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Exactly. So in 2023 I would like to invite you to reflect on what would you most like to achieve? So is it to redevelop, fit out your office space or maybe just go on a new personal and entrepreneurial project? And on this, I would like to know: precisely, Stéphanie, you worked for many, many years in architectural firms and suddenly, six years ago, five or six years ago, you decided to go into business .

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes.

Chia-Yi TUNG

So tell me what is...

Stephanie Chartrand

The spark.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes that's it. What is the moment when you say: that's it there, there.

Stephanie Chartrand

I'm tempted.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Oh yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

I'll...I'm going.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes exactly. Where did this come from ?

Stephanie Chartrand

Well, listen to the moment… I would tell you that it was planned. Me, I finished my studies in 2005. I knew that I wanted to go into business, but I still wanted before building my own company…

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

… I wanted to go and learn with different designers, architects on my own.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Okay.

Stephanie Chartrand

So for twelve years, I worked for different firms as you said, in architecture, in design, all that. As much in Laval, Montreal, in Australia too, I went to work in Melbourne a little bit. Then in 2017 I really felt it was the right time to create my own company, so EspaZio Design. The spark that made it now, I don't know. It's the intuition, the audacity there, which really tempted me. Then yes, I really felt like I was throwing myself there, off a cliff. But I love this thriller.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

Truly.

Chia-Yi TUNG

A kind of inexplicable adrenaline.

Stephanie Chartrand

Yes, I needed that too, you know to feel alive, all that, I think it's a feeling that's fun. Then as an entrepreneur, yes the fact of starting a business, we have that feeling. But throughout the advancement of the company, we have to make decisions and then we must be bold.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

Then all these decisions, we feel a little thrill of the same.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

Then I like it.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes.

Stephanie Chartrand

It's a bit like that that made the entrepreneurial flame spring up.

Chia-Yi TUNG

Yes that's it. So for those of you listening, thank you for your support throughout the year. And Stéphanie and I wish you a very, very happy holiday season…

Stephanie Chartrand

Happy Holidays!

Chia-Yi TUNG

… and a beautiful new year 2023. And if you feel like talking about your projects, you are welcome. Thanks !

Stephanie Chartrand

Thanks !

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