Your Employees Don’t Want To Come Back To a Lame Office
Your employees don’t want to come back to a lame office It’s true. And for many companies and organizations this brutally honest fact is not easy to face after everything we’ve been through in 2020. We get it. But here we are, fall is upon us, and many schools and businesses are finding safe says to reopen with enhanced safety protocols.
We’ve been working with smart companies over the spring and summer that know the old way of doing business and operating a workplace just wasn’t going to work anymore. You can see some of those transformations here.
Here at Infinity Group we actually work in the kind of space that we build for our clients. In fact, the story of our own office transformation of a dusty, deserted downtown Hartford law office is worth sharing to perhaps inspire you to take the first step toward your own refresh.
The year was 2018 and our company was ready to take it to the next level. On a chilly morning in March, Infinity Group CEO Verne Markham and Director of Sales Corey Edwards took the elevator to the 17th floor of a building in downtown Hartford. The doors opened and they followed the leasing agent down a few turns through painted white hallways, the standard grey commercial carpet beneath their feet. Then they stopped at a big wall and a single door that would lead them to their future office on the other side. But right from the start, this space was dark, cramped, and nearly all of the windows were walled off. Basically, you only got a view if you were in a private office. We’re told that only four lawyers used to occupy this space.
Maybe the drop ceilings, fluorescent lights, mini-blinds, and deep blue carpet would have thrown most people off immediately, but not us. This is what we do! We see past what’s in front of us to what’s possible. And that’s how our new office story begins.
From there, our workplace strategy and design teams got involved, creating a space for a client we knew well, ourselves! The things that couldn’t be changed, a central location downtown and a jaw-dropping panoramic view, were spot on. Nearly everything else was reconsidered using our CLEAR process. You can learn more about CLEAR here. In short, Infinity Group CLEAR is at the core of what we do and how we get the job done. CLEAR combines strategy, architecture, engineering, and design.
The first step was getting clear about our strategy. What were our goals for creating a brand-new space? We wanted it to be a functional showpiece, something that could inspire our clients who visit the space or see it in the background of a video call. We also wanted to create a comfortable, energizing environment for 30 employees anchored around an open café and common space. A design library for clients to pick finishes and actually touch materials was a must. Multiple break out meeting rooms, private phone booths, an informal reception area, and a large living room for the big group huddles were also included.
With our strategy and design inspiration in place, that’s when our architecture and engineering teams picked it up, carrying our own project to the next phase. Here’s the thing, this is a time that can get really bogged down by decisions and reviews. The architecture team confirmed our occupancy type and all associated international, state, and local codes that go along with it. We were able to verify all code, egress, occupancy, and mechanical, electrical, plumbing and life safety calculations and loads while producing complete construction documents in a matter of days because of careful work in the strategy phase. In strategy we made sure the existing conditions gathered early on were accurate, this is the foundation for successful and fast-paced architecture and engineering document creation. Our strategy, architecture, engineering and construction teams work as one – that means everyone is dialed in and contributing at every point of the project.
Once the architecture team had our code compliance requirements defined, it was time to create images and scope of work notes for the construction team that defined our original vision and were constructible within the code parameters.
Parallel tracking with the architecture team was our engineering team who made sure all of our mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems were properly sized, correctly laid out, and were the best product for the job. Engineers are always thinking about a product’s healthiness, ease of use, dependability, efficiency, cost, and much more. The engineering team also built a life safety and fire sprinkler plan.
Led by Blake Leonard, VP of Architecture and Engineering, these teams did an amazing job on this project in what feels like lightning-speed. This is because at Infinity Group, the design strategist, architecture lead, and engineering lead, are on the same team. Unlike in the conventional process when these roles typically work separately, any disconnect between team members relating to design intent here, is ironed out efficiently and effectively with proactive teamwork rather than costly finger-pointing between different companies.
Now, it was time for construction. Our team handled all aspects of our project and it was a labor of love because we knew this would be where we call home, away from home. We know that our clients feel the same way, so we give that same concierge service to them during all project phases.
When we moved in it was spectacular. Natural light poured into the space in a way it had never done before. Infinity Group employees immediately felt at home in the space. We soared into the next chapter of our growth as a company in an office that finally felt as special as we are.
So, what does this have to do with COVID-19?
Everything. When the stay at home orders were issued, our team also worked remotely like so many of you. We figured out a way for it to work while our construction crews continued their work safely in the field. When our state began reopening offices at limited capacity in May, we were ready. But they say hindsight is 2020 (see what I did there) and we now realize that we had incredible advantages over so many companies mulling the decision about what to do next.
- We literally do this. We make work beautiful and we make it safe. Our workplace strategy and design teams worked closely with the leadership team to encourage an employee-led return to the office.
- We had the resources and expertise to implement all COVID-19 safety measures.
- We already had a cool and functional office.
While all of these advantages helped our business return to a new normal of working in person, that last item was gold. After weeks and then months of working from home, our employees knew they could find a safe, comfortable, and invigorating environment in our office. We had already done the work that too many companies neglect. We created a space worth returning to. And better yet, we only had to make minor tweaks to the traffic patterns and workstations to be ready for this new reality.
No matter your budget, it’s not too late for you to get started on your new office. Simple, cost-effective, creative solutions can take your space from drab to fabulous. Yes, you can buy the stickers for the floor to mark social distancing reminders, you can buy some hand sanitizer, but creating an office worth returning to is going to take more than that. You know it, and we are here to be your partner in creating what’s next. Together, we will get back to work (in person) safely and we will make work beautiful.