Remodeling Our Way To A Happy Place

By February 1, 2012 April 3rd, 2014 Strategy

About this time last year we committed ourselves to remodeling our office space – a project that was both exciting and a bit overwhelming at the same time. It wasn’t that our old space was that bad, but to put it nicely, it certainly left something to be desired. Let’s just say it had once been described as a “knowledge worker slave camp.”

There were frequent complaints of the muted, mind-numbing blue and gray color scheme. The break area was small and cramped with no sink or plumbing. We either worked in the dark or under the fluorescent glare of the “crack lights.” The climate control was such that you had to be hardy, and dress in the appropriate layers – lest you would be freezing in the morning and sweltering in the afternoon. Heat and cold poured through the old, metal-framed windows. People would be cranking space heaters and wearing puffy coats in the morning, and then shedding down to shorts and a t-shirt in the afternoon. At times, the sun was often blinding at certain workstations. Those were the days …

And so began the quest to reinvent our office space. First it was off to see the bankers. Personal financial statements were combed over and, thankfully, in a few weeks the funds were approved. Here’s $100K, now go build yourself a happy place – good luck!

With that, we called in our homies in the design and construction business. We hired Jeffery Halferty Design to make sure we got it right. Next, we hired Rio Jacober and Jacober Brothers Construction to handle the demo work and construction of our new office space. Jim helped us plan our IT systems. In early June, the dust was flying and we were officially underway. Conveniently, we were able to relocate our offices into a temp space next door for the summer.

Here are the guiding principles that helped us to define the recreation of our office space:

  • We want an open space that represents our local environment.
  • We want to “keep it green” and use natural, sustainable materials.
  • We want to emphasize function over fashion.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the key “green” features we incorporated into the remodel:

  • We disassembled and reused the metal framework from our old cubicle systems.
  • We used reclaimed barn wood to build custom workstations.
  • We replaced the old windows with energy-efficient windows.
  • We used bamboo flooring in the kitchen.
  • We selected energy-efficient lighting and appliances.
  • We built-in recycling bins into the cabinetry.
  • We installed energy-saving (and sun blocking) cellular blinds.

In building the custom workstations, we also devised a system by which people can customize their desk area to have both standing and/or sitting positions. We also ordered up stability balls for improved posture and circulation while sitting. We also installed an A/C system to keep the temp just right – not that green, but it had to be done.

Fast-forward four months later through the inevitable ups-and-downs of any remodel project and we were ready to move into our new office space in October! Pretty sweet.

Now that we’ve had a few months to live in it, I asked what people like most about our new space. For some it’s the lighting, others the sleek glass conference room. The climate is certainly more comfortable and helps people to stay focused and productive. However, the most common response was the “kitchen area.” How nice it is to not be the weird person washing your grapes in the bathroom sink! After all, it really is the little things that matter most.

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