When TAMI Grows Up


You’ve probably been hearing lots about TAMI these days—a.k.a., technology, advertising, media and information companies. The commercial real estate industry is talking about TAMI for good reasons: these forward-thinking firms are in high demand and are growing at an impressively rapid pace.

SEE ALSO: TAMI Activity Slows in Midtown South

The smaller, yet successful TAMIs that began as spry startups are now maturing and finding themselves in the position of needing to evolve to stay at the forefront and compete with the bigger industry players. They are eager to recruit and retain talent, and office design, as I often discuss in this very column, can help them do just that. For TAMI firms that are ready to graduate to an office space that will last for years to come, I recommend the following five shifts:

More tech. Digital displays are one way technology companies can differentiate themselves from the average incubator firm. One client we worked with in Austin, Texas, made touch-screen technology the first thing visitors encountered when they entered the reception area. With the tip of your finger, you could see what was going on with the firm’s global offices, experience its projects in an interactive way and even check out job offerings. It was something the client wasn’t able to execute in its early years, but was now ready to incorporate into its design. The message: The company is immersed in the digital and tech world and is ready to demonstrate that to everyone who steps foot in its offices.

Upgraded amenities. Maybe it’s a coffee bar with a Nespresso and custom soda machine; an outdoor gathering space and lounge; or a formal cooking area stocked with gourmet treats. When TAMI firms mature, it’s fitting that they up their amenity game with more sophisticated offerings. One New York City tech firm we designed a space for, on Park Avenue South, built a roof deck with the lifestyle aesthetic of the Ace Hotel and it’s been the office standout ever since.

Less IKEA, more perm pieces. As firms grow and look at a more long-term plan, it’s wise to take a look at furnishings. When a company is just getting started and running on venture capital funding, and inside a space they’ve subleased for two or three years, it makes sense to keep the furniture budget at bay. However, once a company is ready to invest in a larger space and commit to a 10-year lease, for instance, they should consider furnishings that are more durable and can go the distance. An architect or designer can advise on options, including whether it makes sense to lease, buy used, or purchase brand new, and what furnishings will best contribute to a more established look.

Invest in branding. Once a TAMI firm comes of age, it should more clearly define its brand image. A digital video branding company we worked with did just that by displaying items that spoke to its history and principles, a key recruiting and retention tool. The “story” of the company can also be woven into the design through color choices, art and even carpet patterns.

Get better acoustics. As startups grow, they often yearn for improved acoustics. While open, collaborative and flexible multipurpose spaces—including the ever-popular “free address” spaces for visiting executives, auditors or part-time workers—are still in demand, additional attention to the ceiling, flooring, finishes and wall materials can allow technology and video conferencing to exist in harmony with quiet work-centric areas.

It’s important to stay hungry, maintaining the enthusiasm and innovation of a startup. However, when the time is right, it’s perfectly fine to trade up and become “established.”