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The Importance of Gathering: How to Keep Breakrooms and Communal Spaces Safe when Returning to Work

The Importance of Gathering: How to Keep Breakrooms and Communal Spaces Safe when Returning to Work

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

A large part of r.o.i. Design’s success is our collaboration and engagement with each other. So naturally, we are looking forward to our return to the office after the stay-at-home quarantine. 

While gatherings are being scrutinized, we know for many groups, being together adds a level of performance and creativity that can’t be achieved otherwise. 

So, what can teams do to make safe gathering engaging and enjoyable?  Here are some ideas from our customers and peers:  

  • Create an outdoor breakroom with the appropriate distance between chairs. That may mean clearing some space and putting in a temporary railing to give the area a sense of space. Outdoor furniture and accessories, including a fire pit, umbrellas, space heaters, and bug repellents could be added.
  • Stagger breaks and the use of breakrooms so fewer occupants are present at one time, allowing for social distancing.
  • Remove some of the chairs, so people are spaced apart.
  • Post interesting facts about co-workers and the company in the breakroom to encourage staff to leave their desks. 
  • Run games in the breakroom to create friendly competition between shifts. 

One of our customers removed the breakroom tables and brought in two ping pong tables for people to eat at, meet at, and of course, play ping pong. They created circles on the floor to help folks visualize safe distances.

A more extreme change was by a medical customer who hung clear shower curtains in the space to create “booths” to maximize the use of their cafeteria. They reorganized seating to allow for wide aisles that lead to the booths. The reports are that folks are sitting in adjacent booths so they can still have a conversation during lunch. 

Another group with more than 50 employees agreed to stagger its in-office work schedules. They removed cubicles in order to create a much larger open space. They populated the open area with chairs, physical therapy balls, and lounge seating positioned six feet apart. In those areas, large monitors are being used to engage with others, who may be working from home that day. They plan to move people back altogether before the fall. 

For more information on why it is important for people to gather and how the pandemic is challenging our mental health, read the best selling book The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters, by Priya Parker.

“The way we gather matters. Gatherings consume our days and help determine the kind of world we live in, in both our intimate and public realms. Gathering—the conscious bringing together of people for a reason—shapes the way we think, feel, and make sense of our world…” 

Care and Feeding of the Office Worker

Care and Feeding of the Office Worker

Corporations are looking for ways to make employees more comfortable and productive while in the office. So what creates that happiness and what is the role of design to aid in creating happiness at work?

r.o.i. Design has seen their customers provide a variety of spaces and amenities to their offices to assist with making a multi-generational workforce glad to be at the office.

While break rooms are important, so are the other pit stops and opportunities for refreshment:

  • A small counter with a beverage fridge and a Keurig reminds folks to keep hydrated.
  • Some lounge furniture by a window with a view. Doesn’t have to be an enclosed office, just a spot for a moment of contemplation and enjoyment.
  • If your office is filled with cubicles, converting a small office to a shared space so a couple of folks can work privately can be very productive.
  • On the stressful days, the old fashioned “tea cart” being pushed around with snacks at least makes them smile.

And then there is the opportunity to communicate to staff through messaging:

  • Monitors that run changing images and texts are great for keeping staff “in the know”.
  • Imagine if, after the boring quarterly meeting, a monitor in the office had funny photos from the meeting with some bullet points to repeat the key points of the meeting, but also to remind folks that they appreciate them coming to the meeting!
  • Recognize staff for a job well done or celebrate with those crazy birthday announcements
  • Or just maybe having the company Facebook page up on the screen.
  • One office we visited had staff DISC profiles looped on a video.

And if your office doesn’t have a ton of space to create “other spaces”, or a budget for art or technology, consider adding plants and greenery to soften the interior.

No matter how a company expresses their care for their employees, any effort to recognize staff efforts and dedication is appreciated.

© Image Courtesy of First Companies
Mill Steel Moves Corporate Office

Mill Steel Moves Corporate Office

Mill Steel Moves Corporate Office

Congratulations to Mill Steel Company on the opening of their new headquarters on Lucerne Drive in Grand Rapids. 

This 30-year-old brick building exterior was modernized with new paint and metal siding, roof dormers, canopies and railings, decorative light fixtures and new signage. r.o.i. Design could be seen with large finish samples walking around in the snow and rain last year, working with Mill Steel imagining all of the finish changes.

This project began with r.o.i Design managing a programming step, interviewing a variety of people from Mill Steel and creating bubble plans for Dixon Architecture to use in creating the floor plan. The plan included private offices and meeting rooms, but proportionately much more open office, collaborative and shared spaces. There are a café and a breakroom, as well as a patio and fire pit. Staff have plenty of breakout areas for private conversations or just to get away.    

Mill Steel wanted the space to be engaging and represent their personalities; they liked clean lines and assured us they weren’t afraid of color. The interior was completely demolished and remodeled – most new walls have glass doors and windows that open up all the rooms to the natural light. r.o.i. Design worked closely with contractors on the lighting and ceiling plans to make sure the space was well lit and energized. The color scheme included their brand blue color but overall was kept neutral, light and bright.

Some of our favorite interior design features include:

  • Ametal paneled wall in the lobby
  • A “Live Wall” in the breakroom
  • Pivot doors from the breakroom to the training room
  • A custom twenty-one-foot boardroom table
  • Painted wall graphics
  • Floors with interesting carpet and luxury vinyl tile patterns throughout the office.

Thank you to Dixon Architecture and Dykhouse Construction for partnering with us on this great project.

Mill Steel is one of the largest steel service centers in the nation.  They specialize in flat-rolled carbon steel for various markets including automotive, appliance, construction, HVAC, and agriculture. Their 32,000 sq. ft. facility is a two-story building with walkouts on both levels and conveniently located to highways.

For more information on Mill Steel, visit their website.

Custom Furniture: A Feasible Delight

Custom Furniture: A Feasible Delight

Custom Furniture: A Feasible Delight

Can’t find the perfect board room table? Need a storage cabinet that looks like a piece of furniture versus a laminate box? Want a custom-sized sofa? Need to incorporate graphics into custom pieces? We can help.

r.o.i. Design grew out of the furniture industry and we continue to design custom furniture as part of our interior design services.

Ryan Bright, Creative Executive, has a degree in furniture design and met r.o.i. Design when he was a design intern for Widdicomb Furniture in 1999. Since joining r.o.i. Design he has designed many custom pieces for our customers.

Mary Witte, Owner and Creative Lead, owned a custom millwork company, Designers Workshop, which was purchased by Widdicomb Furniture. There she continued to design custom millwork and furniture and was acknowledged by the industry with an award from American Home for her designs.

Ronda Geyer, Procurement and Product Manager, coordinates our furniture vendors to make sure custom pieces are delivered and installed as designed.

We have maintained relationships with custom furniture makers and finishers that we met through our experience as furniture makers and still use today to fabricate custom pieces.

Some of our recent designs include:

From concept to installation, r.o.i. Design delivers custom furnishings fulfilling our promise to provide Budget, Brand, and Beauty.

The Open Office: A Love/Hate Relationship

The Open Office: A Love/Hate Relationship

Lots of “Pods” at NeoCon 2019

Do you love the open office environment, but sometimes struggle with the need for a quiet spot to get a project done, have a private conversation, or just have a moment by yourself?

While trends in office space planning are moving towards no walls and open spaces, the reality is that most people sometimes need an area which is peaceful and private, where they aren’t interrupted.

The open office isn’t going away because it has proven to be great for managing by overhearing, training the new hire, and collaboration. It also helps the growing company be flexible as they need to add or move employees without calling a contractor and building more walls.

So, how are offices balancing the need to be together but “apart”? Our annual trip to NeoCon proved that manufactures are paying attention to their customers’ open office needs. We saw lots of creative ways to get a moment of isolation, while still being “available”.

This year the drapery curtain showed up in several showrooms, turning the cubicle walls into a framework that allows for a curtain to be drawn for full separation, or just some. Herman Miller created a lounge in their open office using a giant red velvet curtain and globe lights. Groovy!

There were also a lot of “pods”, little rooms that manufacturers are now offering as part of the line of furniture. You buy this tiny room and place it within the open office and plug it in for power and ventilation.

There were canopies, lids and cones of all shapes and sizes that aim to keep your voice from traveling to the next. There was one we called “the cone of silence” that you can pull down around a meeting table.

So, don’t hate the open office, it doesn’t have to make you frustrated. You just need to get creative with some relief spaces!

Advantage Label Plans for the Future with New Plant and Offices

Advantage Label Plans for the Future with New Plant and Offices

advantage-label_dsc_0040Advantage Label says they “label with a purpose”. They work with their customers to create labels and packaging that present a quality product and promote sales.  r.o.i. Design’s experience of Advantage Label was just that, they perform with purpose and wanted their office to show them as a place of quality, efficiency and pride.

advantage-label_dsc_0049Wolverine Building Group contacted r.o.i. Design to support their design process and we were asked to review lighting plans, select finishes and lighting, and help make the break room more of a restaurant than a cafeteria.

advantage-label_dsc_0065-hdrUsing the red of their logo colors (which was also an accent color on the exterior of the building), r.o.i. Design added charcoals, blue gray and orange to the overall scheme to create depth and variety. The use of planked modular carpet tiles allowed accent colors to be introduced within a consistent field of carpet, without added costs.

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For more about Advantage Label, CLICK HERE