Cybersecurity firm Check Point asks public to help plan post-COVID office

‘We are altering the way we work and therefore we will alter our offices as well,’ firm says, asking architects, designers, students and others to come up with a vision

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Check Point Software Technologies offices in Tel Aviv (Courtesy)
Check Point Software Technologies offices in Tel Aviv (Courtesy)

Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. has launched a competition for architects, designers, students or anyone with a great idea, to help it design the office of the post-COVID future. The prize for the winning entry will be $15,000.

The firm’s global headquarters is a 30,000 square meter building that, pre-pandemic, served 2,400 employees as well as thousands of visitors from Israel and abroad. After the pandemic struck, the firm changed its way of work, and in the past months it has allowed all of its employees to work in hybrid mode — partially from home and partially from the office.

Now, with the pandemic lingering and with most of the workers preferring the hybrid mode to the office-only status that existed before the virus hit, the company has come to the realization that the current work model will be the new normal — and is thus looking for inspiration as to how its office spaces should be redesigned to accommodate the new needs.

“COVID has changed the nature of the workplace, and post-COVID, we understand that we can’t turn the wheel back,” said Gil Messing, head of global corporate communications at the firm, which employs 5,500 people globally. “Workers prefer to work in part from home and in part from the office, and we found they are as productive as before.”

Check Point Software Technologies offices in Tel Aviv; the firm is asking the public to set out a vision for the office of the future (Courtesy)

Whereas previously 80% of the workers used to come into the office daily, now just 15% do, said Nirit Schneider, head of Purchasing and Facilities at the firm.

“We are starting a pilot,” said Schneider. “This is the direction of the future, and so we are looking for ideas and concepts to say what should our office look like going forward.”

The model will need to be flexible, she said, and the firm is seeking ideas from architects, designers, students and anyone who has a vision for workspaces that cater both to workers who come in a few days a week and to those who come in daily.

A team of judges within Check Point will vet the ideas and the winning proposal may be used for the company’s office redesign. Originality, innovation, efficient utilization of existing spaces, fast execution and availability of materials will all be considered. The second-place winner will get $5,000 and third-place winner will get $2,500.

Nirit Schneider, head of Purchasing and Facilities at Check Point Software Technologies (Courtesy)

The firm owns the 30,000 sq.m. building in Tel Aviv and rents three floors in an adjacent building. The lease on one of the floors terminates at the end of the year and Check Point is not planning to renew it, Schneider said. The leases for the other two floors are long-term contracts, she explained, and there is no decision yet about their fate. Any office redesign that happens in Tel Aviv will also be reflected in the firm’s 75 global office, she said.

Since the firm published the terms of the competition on Sunday, architects, students, industrial designers have already submitted their ideas, she said. And the ideas presented won’t serve Check Point alone, she added. “We will present the ideas to everyone in the industry.”

“We are altering the way we work and therefore we will alter our offices as well,” the firm said in the blog post published on Sunday, calling for design proposals.

The guidelines for the new office design are as follows: employees will work from home and from the office in different capacities; employees can choose how often they come to the office — every day or alternately; employees who arrive at the office every day will get a permanent working station, while those who come in alternately will have a “hot” working station; the following spaces must be included in the design concept: an executive room, a shared working space, an open space, a meeting room, a quiet room and a fun room.

The design must include flexible working spaces — spaces that can repurposed, quickly, easily and efficiently. It must also include workstations that are conducive to an exchange of ideas.

The design must include a storage solution for employees who prefer to leave their equipment, keyboard, mouse, and other items in the office. There also should be clear direction signs for those employees whose working stations may change on a daily basis.

Contenders will have to submit a presentation that includes a detailed explanation of the chosen concept, its advantages and why was it chosen and 3D renders of selected areas of the office space. Submissions must be presented to by December 14, 2020.

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