Future Workforce, Operations Top New Space Concerns

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Paragon recently relocated downtown to a building on historic Route 66, and when it came time to plan and renovate the space, the design process was no different than it would have been for a client.

“For our corporate clients, using the office environment to attract and retain talent is top of mind,” says Brad Erwin, president and principal architect. “There is a lot of competition for talented people in the workforce right now. Making sure that you’re creating a space that works for your existing workforce but can also be a beacon for new hires is key in this tight labor market.”

It is imperative that the people who will eventually live, work and learn in your space are involved in the design process. “We make sure to be intentional about the programming of the space and how the building will function for the end user,” says Bekah Olson, marketing coordinator with Paragon.

Erwin suggests business owners try to put themselves in prospective hires’ shoes and look at their office through fresh eyes, while considering the impression they want to make.

“If you haven’t touched anything from a design standpoint in 10 or 15 years, it’s time to do it. Your office environment is what sets the tone for every client and possible new employee as soon as they walk in the door. It’s an extension of your brand.”

“Weaving in what a company is doing today and where they see themselves going in relation to business operations is so important,” says Erwin. “Every company wants to see themselves as a destination of choice for the best talent out there, not just from a company culture standpoint but also because of its physical environment.”

Erwin says it’s important to get a good cross section of the company. “Everyone’s perspective is different. The top executive may be looking five to ten years in the future but maybe the front-line people are focused on the day-to-day and week-to-week operations.”

Erwin emphasizes that it’s not just about aesthetics and notes that while thinking about Paragon’s new space and when designing any new facility, one of the goals is to provide multiple types of places for people to work. “We wanted the ability to move between completely different settings,” he says. “Whether that’s eight people around a conference table, three or four people in a quiet room with some soft seating where they can sit and collaborate, or a quiet nook for someone to avoid all distractions and take a call.”

The need to attract and retain talent is a consideration that Paragon shares with its clients. When designing their new office space, that was paramount in Erwin’s mind. “We need to be in sync with what’s happening with work culture, so we changed some of our business operations,” says Erwin. For example, over a six-month period the company transitioned from desktops to laptops to give employees the opportunity to be mobile and work where they feel most comfortable and productive. “This gives them multiple work zones like the café, the patio, the conference rooms, the private pods, anywhere in the building.”

“For me, as a creative, it’s really important to have all of these great options,” says Olson. “The option to stand or sit at my desk, or to relocate to the café just for a change of scenery really refreshes the way I look at my work. It’s been really special to go through the design process and see my and my peers’ input come to life here.”

“It was interesting to do for ourselves all the things we do for clients. It gave us a unique perspective on the way people want to work,” says Erwin. “And it really drove home that the flexibility of where and how you work is so important, not only now but also in the future.”

Street Address:

637 W College St. Phone: 417-885-0002

Web Address:

paragonarchitecture.com

Top Executives: Brad Erwin, President & Principal Architect

Year Founded: 2010

Number of Employees: 21 Locations: Springfield, Joplin & St. Louis

Product or Service: Architectural Design, Interior Design, & Proactive Project Management through Construction Administration and Beyond