Interview with Linn Legros, Co-Founder and CEO of Brightside
Future of work 25 Oct 2022 6 min read
Future of work 25 Oct 2022 5 min read
For the second installment of our office series, “What Does the Office Space Mean to You?”, Setting sat down with Linn Legros, founder and CEO of brightside. Alongside co-founder Victoria Granget, Linn founded brightside as a digital design studio to build high-quality websites for companies in Webflow, a tool that enables their clients to maintain and scale their websites quickly and independently. Over a cup of coffee at her coworking space in Kreuzberg, we talked about compromises, the 9-5 day, and the emotions of finding the right office space.
Q: Let’s get straight to it, Linn. What does the office space mean to you?
Linn Legros (L.L.): The office space, to me, is a place where a team, or a group of people, can gather and be inspired by each other. It’s also a place where they can be energized by each other in an atmosphere that motivates them.
For me, it's about the dynamic—you know, the energy. So it's not just a place; in fact, it's more about the emotions a space can have on you in order to bring the best out of you to feel inspired!
Q: Wow, that’s exactly the kind of connection we want to explore in this series. You mentioned emotions—how do they figure in the office space?
L.L: Oh, it’s purely emotional—well, maybe not purely, but to a large degree [laughs]. Here at brightside, we’re a creative team, which means, first of all, that it’s really important for us to have intimacy. Sharing is nice, but we want to build a culture where we have our space and everybody is feeling good. For instance, we want to have a kitchen where we can cook and be comfortable. We want to have rooms that inspire everybody to be their most creative selves. We’d also love to have spaces where we can rest, and relax, but also feel focused, and I think we can only do that if it’s a space we can call our own.
In that way, and in terms of creativity, the office is part of our project. It’s part of our expression to have an office that we could choose to decorate, arrange, and design. It’s a creative space.
Q: It sounds like you also had a few office experiences where this wasn’t the case. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
L.L: When I first met Victoria and started brightside, we were both working in an office space here around the corner from Maybachufer in Kreuzberg. It was a really big space, which meant there was potential for employees to feel more creative and comfortable. Instead, three rooms were almost empty. A developer even decided to turn one of these rooms into his personal office!
Everyone was also working in one big open space, but with no separators. The space simply wasn’t adapted for employees to cohabit and be productive. For example, the project managers were often on the phone and we couldn’t focus because it was so loud. This is quite typical for creative firms and office spaces.
It made me realize that the office is a space where there is so much potential for the team to come together, do things together, and really ask questions such as what does the team need? Even if the team member needs a nap or something, we should be able to provide that. And, of course, we need a space where our identity can be fully expressed. All these things are why emotions are important in the office space.
Q: Would you say that brightside is there yet?
L.L. We haven’t found the proper office space yet. We did like the previous office space we were at, but again, it was still compromising for something else. Our real office ideal would be that we wouldn’t need to compromise anything at all.
One thing we do love about this office space is its location. You walk around and a lot is going on, but it’s not isolated. I think the fact that it’s in an Innenhof (inner courtyard) is nice. I love these kinds of industrial buildings in the Innenhof—typical Kreuzberg and Berlin fare—so I think ideally something like this that would be for ourselves would be perfect!
Q: That’s the perfect segue into your current office set-up. What is it, exactly?
L.L: So, currently, we’re set up in Ufer, a coworking space in the heart of Kreuzberg, which is an area that we particularly like. We’re renting a private office in the co-working set-up now. brightside is a team of five people, so we have quite a small room in the larger space. But it works, for now.
We’re not a particularly fast-growing company, so it kind of made sense for us at the time to move here. We had to find a space quickly, and this place allowed us to get set up very fast and was the right choice for us. We’ve been here since May, so it’s been four or five months already!
Q: What about remote work? What has brightside’s policy been during COVID?
L.L. We offer everyone full flexibility in where they want to work. Interestingly, though, people choose to come to the office. We've even stressed again and again that it's completely fine if people want to work from different places, but somehow everyone on the team feels like they're happy to come in because there's more energy in the office space than at home.
You know, when it comes to creative work, I think it’s a bit different. I think creative work relies so much on the energy and drive of others—you're inspired by others, and by the atmosphere and the environment. And when you're at home alone, and maybe you don't have as much drive. I’ve experienced that myself many times. So yeah, flexibility is key for us—I sometimes go to Belgium, and our colleague Gabriele often works from Italy.
Q: Wrapping it up here, has your idea of the office space evolved over time? From employee to founder, maybe? Or just by nature of having your own agency now?
L.L. To be honest, no. Not at all [laughs]. I’m a really social person. And I feel like being together in an office space gives me so much vigor. Here, at our current office, we share the space with many people, but our goal is to build our company culture within the team, and for us, it's a bit harder to do so with many other teams around sharing common areas. The fact that people socialize and network around here is really nice—but it's ultimately more important for us to have a private place for our team to call their own.
I would never want the social aspect of an office space to change because of COVID. But one thing that certainly has changed for the better is the idea that you have to be in the office. I never really thought it made sense. In my previous work experiences, I always had to work from 9-5, and if I took a break, I had to be there until 6. There were days when there was nothing to do, and we would still have to be there, staring at our screen or looking out the window.
Victoria and I agreed we would do things differently at brightside. In our experience, fixed working hours have not taught us to manage our own time. It certainly hasn't motivated us to be goal-oriented and plan ahead. We think these are very important skills to develop as a professional and will help anyone down the line. Additionally, it also allows individuals to be flexible with their time which we believe leads to a healthier life!
It makes you think about the nature of the office space, too! As far as I’m concerned, as a founder, I spend a lot of time in the office—probably longer than most [laughs]. In the end, that’s why it’s important for me for the office to feel like a second home!
This is the second interview in our “What Does the Office Space Mean To You” series. Stay tuned for more exciting stories about the office space over the next couple of months!
We’d love to hear your office story. Drop us a line at [email protected] if you’re interested in sharing your office experience.
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