After the impact of COVID-19 and to support the continued growth of our company, Real Projectives® completed significant renovations of our Laurel headquarters office.
As Real Projectives® (RPL) has grown over the years, including adding employees, two years ago we identified the need to better use our office headquarters in Laurel, Maryland. Evaluation and planning began early in 2020 but then COVID-19 caused us to pause those efforts when everyone was forced to work from home. Since then, we have adapted to a permanently hybrid work mode performing where most appropriate—at jobsites and on the road throughout the U.S., at employee homes, and several days each week in our office.
Upon careful thought about our desired company culture and effectiveness, we determined that five key categories of improvements were needed to make our workplace worthy of professional use into the foreseeable future.
First category: indoor air quality and comfort were the highest priority. We upgraded the air filtration and added ultraviolet (UV) light to one five-year old air handling unit. We replaced an older HVAC unit with a new system featuring increased heating and cooling capacity, new dedicated outdoor (fresh) air supply, better filtration, and permanent UV treatment. These enhancements provide a safer, productive, and more comfortable work environment for our employees.
The second category revolves around office acoustics. The pluses of having open office facilities on two connected stories gets outweighed by disruptive acoustic concerns. We replaced the ceilings on the upper floor with better acoustic tiles, added a sound masking system, and added new vertical fabric-wrapped baffles to absorb sound.
Third category is lighting. While installing the new ceiling, we replaced the old lighting with more energy efficient lighting that gives a softer and more uniform light to each workspace. We also bought a couple movable divider panels that employees can place beside their desks to block sound or behind them to create less disruptive backgrounds during the many video calls we all now have.
Fourth category centers on our belief that being together is essential for learning, collaboration, and creativity. Therefore, by enlarging our main conference room we adapted it for broader uses and purchased a pre-built “pod” that enables quiet space for 1-4 people to meet as well as host private audio and video calls.
Although more time is spent away from the office, business growth requires more workspaces. We literally knocked down walls to purchase and install more desks, reduced the infrequently used reception area, and generally created better flow and use of the ground floor. We can now seat up to eight more employees within the same physical area and they have access to more operable windows and better lighting.
Our fifth area of key improvement, (this might be an urgent priority for many businesses but minor for us) strengthening our systems to support remote work is an ongoing focus. Prior to the pandemic, all our employees used laptops or tablet computers with access to communications and files through both local (in office) and online (out of office) network platforms. Some people took monitors home and we purchased additional docking hubs for home-use and traveling to help our team stay easily connected. We replaced our web-based project management platform, converted to an online accounting tool, and are re-evaluating the VOIP phone service to best handle more employees based outside the office and on mobile throughout the U.S.
Time will tell whether these improvements are enough. We don’t claim to have all the answers and believe that continued experimentation and adaptation of how and where professional services work is best performed is vital. We do hope that sharing our journey offers some elements. What have you done or struggle to figure out in your business?
If RPL can assist in determining or implementing your workplace improvements, please reach out to us. We’d be glad to talk. Contact us today or call us at 888.357.7342 to discuss how leveraging our knowledge, expertise, and ambition could drive your potential improvements to success.