Building, Moving & My Lessons Learned

When I walk into my office at our new corporate headquarters, it feels like we’ve been here for months – not days. It feels that right.

The decision to build a new corporate headquarters was a journey that started over three years ago. Many things contributed to this decision, but one of the key drivers was the feedback we received from our annual employee survey. After 25 years our existing facility was no longer meeting the needs of our employees or our business model.

The growth of our Managed Services business created the need for an expanded call center that had been tucked into a remodeled warehouse with heating, ventilation and acoustic issues that needed to be addressed. We were renting off-site storage space that required us to transport products between the two facilities for preparation and delivery. Because of our growing workforce, there was a requirement for more conference rooms, restrooms, parking and general office space. 

The comments stacked up and we knew we needed a new space that would reflect our new business model, technology and workflow. It was not a decision I took lightly. I knew this was a 20 to 25 year-decision and we needed to consider the next two generations of workers – and what they might need in an efficient work space in the future. This certainly presented a challenge, and here is what we learned along the way:

1. Try not to let your own personal preferences dominate decisions.
This is tough, but makes all the difference. We all have our own ideas and preferences, but those personal feelings can only play a small role in the building process. Creating a facility that is functional for today – and the next 25 years – requires foresight, tradeoffs and collective thinking.

2. Get buy in, but don’t have too many cooks.
It is important to decide upfront how the company will engage employees in the process – and who and how many will be involved. We created a small team of six members representing the functional areas of technology, warehouse, and office space to work with the designers and architects to create a facility that would meet our needs for 25 years. The discussions were interesting – and even intense at times – as we debated everything from acoustics, to the height of cubicle panels, to the size of the warehouse and lunchroom. We engaged small focus groups on some key issues like signage, office equipment, furnishings and decor.

3. Focus on the future and your growth plans.
Like often in projects like this, “the might as wells” mounted, but we needed to be mindful of a budget. That meant there were some “give and takes,” and decisions had to be made to exclude some items and make room for others that would better accommodate our future. For example, we opted for a mezzanine behind the Managed Services area to allow for future growth rather than an aesthetic fountain on the grounds. With each decision, we considered our needs and the cost of doing something now versus later.

4. Workflow matters.
Our team dedicated more time designing the building around our company’s workflow than anything else. Sure, the building needed to look nice. But it really needed to be functional. We had an opportunity to increase efficiency and productivity so we wanted to get it right. For example, we developed a customer area with conference and demo rooms that wraps around the front lobby to give our current and prospective clients easy, welcoming access to the spaces they use. We tried to think of everything – down to how we would serve lunch during meetings and conduct facility tours to enhance the customer experience.

5. Workplace culture is real.
We spent years developing a workplace culture that we’re proud of and we wanted the new facility to embrace and enhance that. We made what seemed like some bold moves to show we’re different. You’ll find a fireplace in our lunchroom, comfortable couches and even a casual gaming area for employees to use during breaks. Outside, you’ll find an extensive eat-out or hangout patio and a walking trail.

6. You can only be so green with your green.
Green building techniques are the trend, but it became clear how green we should go once we began calculating the ROI. We were conscious of our energy consumption and took a series of steps to construct an energy-efficient facility. But you won’t see solar panels on our roof or a windmill out front. As a technology company, we invested significant dollars in our network infrastructure to reduce our carbon footprint and responsibly conserve energy.

7. Don’t expect to get it all right.
Now that we’re in the space, we get to evaluate how we did and revisit a few of our decisions. For example, acoustics has proven to be a challenge. From a design aspect, we wanted to have lots of glass, high ceilings, and an open workspace. As a result, this has created the need for us to look at solutions to solve noise issues we hadn’t anticipated. We’ll get it figured out, but there will be a cost and a delay in getting the environment right.

Improving our corporate headquarters was necessary and required a lot of decisions along the way. I knew when I walked in the front door the Monday after the move, we got most things right. It felt good. But like moving into a new home, it’s a process. It takes some time for everyone to get settled in, and soon we’ll wonder how we worked any other way.

Topics: Lessons