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.
“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…”
r.o.i. Design has worked with contractors and realtors to transform some not-so-great spaces into spaces that create a WOW factor for occupants and visitors. Here are some before and after stories that we hope inspire our readers to imagine how their spaces could look.
Creston Heights 1960’s Office Building
United Commercial Services had a vision for a forgotten building that, many years ago, was a funeral home. The demo revealed layers of wall covering, antique utilities, and a hint of a ghost. But the transformation from a variety of cavernous rooms to a spacious office paid off for UCS. Thanks, Pinnacle Construction for making this happen!
Downtown Dental Office Building
Complete Health Dentistry was already in an urban setting but moved even closer to the downtown area in Grand Rapids on a highly visible corner on the Medical Mile. They trusted r.o.i. Design and First Companies to come up with an interior that would transform this 1980’s space into something that their patients would find appealing. The change was amazing, and the result feels like it is how the space should have always looked.
South East Grand Rapids Office Building
This property was seeing major transitions in their tenant population and was looking to find an anchor tenant to occupy most of the building. Originally the building was a single-user and the entryway was a reception desk. As more businesses moved into the building, it became obsolete.
N.A.I. Wisinski organized a design competition to show the owners what their entry could look like, and r.o.i. Design was selected to design the reimagined space. Removing walls and adding a floating ceiling, along with new finishes, lighting, and furnishings transformed the space. Within nine months, the building gained a major new tenant.
Downtown Grand Rapids Office Building
This historic property has been a desired address for many years, but it had been more than 20 years since the lobby and public restroom were addressed. Tours by potential new tenants were resulting in some negative comments about how the spaces looked. By addressing lighting, flooring, finishes, and furnishings, the natural beauty of the spaces began to shine again.
Over the past few weeks, our team has been learning how to make our spaces safe for the return to work, visits to doctors, and trips to our favorite retailers. We acknowledge solutions presented by suppliers and manufacturers that impact our work in interior design; their products influence our spaces from the air we breathe to the chairs we sit on. Read on to see some of what we’ve learned regarding COVID-19 protection measures and visit our Facebook page throughout the week to get our full take on these solutions.
A building’s filtration in its heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) can be a part of an overall mitigation approach to protect occupants from COVID-19. To reap the full benefits of an HVAC system, cleaning and disinfecting HVAC components, including ductwork, installing high-efficiency (HEPA) filters, and increasing outdoor air ventilation are critical.
WALL COVERINGS AND OTHER SURFACES
We also pulled research on the longevity of the COVID-19 virus on commonly used wall covering materials, and how to effectively eliminate the virus on these surfaces. Today’s manufacturers are integrating antimicrobial technology into interior design elements to keep them cleaner from multiplying bacteria – window shades, paint, door hardware, and faucets. Additionally, the addition of UV lights for more deeply disinfecting the office at night could help to keep walls and other surfaces cleaner.
TEMPORARY WALL PARTITIONS
In addition to pre-existing wall surfaces, temporary wall partitions find relevancy, especially in open offices, to help ease the spreading of viruses. While plexiglass, laminate, or another hard surface has been preferred, those surfaces must be frequently cleaned. Not all fabrics are a good option for the surface of partition, those that are coated or are made specifically to repel moisture would be best. And, while not as attractive, cardboard has been tested and it may be that the virus lives less on cardboard than on plexiglass.
Presented with the problem of maintaining upholstered surfaces in high-traffic and shared spaces, our fabric manufacturers have risen to the challenge and provided, and continue to seek, solutions for safe fabrics. Referencing the EPA’s recommended products for disinfecting, our fabric manufacturers quickly pulled together their resources to help educate us on which materials perform best in an environment that will not require excessive cleaning. Coated fabrics, vinyl, and Crypton meet these standards for cleanability.
Beyond innovations for public and private spaces, the design community is contributing to the solution for your personal space – personal protection equipment. We’ve seen manufacturers and design firms shift their resources and brainpower in response to COVID-19. Fabric manufacturers and independent designers are using their resources to create face masks, and many donate face coverings for each mask purchased.
No one solution protects us completely and it will be a combination of behaviors and tools that gets us through this time. We look forward to more virus testing, and then, of course, the vaccine.
We are pleased to have updated our systems in January 2020 with updates in hardware and software. While we couldn’t have anticipated the impacts of COVID-19, we are proud that we invested in an infrastructure that allows us to be more responsive. We acknowledge our relationship with i3 Business Solutions and their continued support of our ability to do business in these changing times.
We are fully engaged with applications that allow us to meet and communicate richly with our customers online. We continue to learn about new ways to be engaged and are pleasantly surprised by their effectiveness. We are encouraged that we will be able to express/communicate interior design concepts and finishes through virtual and social distancing.
We are committed to our creative team and customers. Let us know how we can help.
We met Mike and Lisa Mervenne through an introduction by West Michigan Office Interiors. They are the owners of Burco, Inc., an amazing company that supplies automotive mirrors for new and after-market. This multi-generation business is an entrepreneurial inspiration. It’s reflective of the business creativity in West Michigan, but more specifically of their corporation.
Our year-long relationship of designing and budgeting resulted in a great remodel thanks to Erhardt Construction and Joe Kuhn. The project was completed early this year.
The remodel included more open office areas, an expanded break room, more efficient office layouts, and branded décor. Building on their amazing brand, r.o.i. Design developed an interior design scheme that reflects their brand colors, culture, and needs.
In addition to interior design, we were able to provide graphic design for custom branded décor, as well as providing new furnishings for their break room.
These are challenging times, but we know our ability to provide budget-brand-beauty interiors will set us apart. We have many projects in-house that require our attention and look forward to their continuation.
We have several projects through our partner, First Companies Inc. Those projects include dermatology offices, dental offices, and industrial/manufacturing offices in West Michigan. Including, but not limited to: Portland Dentistry by Design, Total Fire Protection, Wilkast, Cedar Springs Dentistry, The Derm Institute of West Michigan, and Wolverine Dermatology.
We are working with the City of Kentwood on a few projects based on previous work with the city. Ten years ago we designed their library.
Our work with new customer FCC Construction and their customer, American Immersion Theater, gave us the opportunity to show our theatrical “chops”.
Mars Hill Bible Church asked us to assist them in the redesign of offices and children’s ministry areas, as they have sold half of their facility to Grandville Public Schools. It was just two years ago that we redesigned all of their kids’ ministry areas.
Most recently, we have engaged with the Kent County Office of the Defenders in their exploration of new offices in downtown Grand Rapids. This is in response to a request from the State of Michigan to expand its services. We are engaged with local contractors and furniture suppliers as we build budgets and feasibility for their expansion.
We have added new customers in the senior-living/multi-family category. We are pleased to be working with Darley Village in Spring Lake and continued work with Eagle Point Properties who has engaged us with their project in Virginia.
We have a variety of office projects that we are managing that serve the business community in finance and accounting.
We met Grand River Bank through Dixon Architecture and have been working with them for several months. This project reconnected us to BDR Construction, who hopes to deliver the space at 50 Crahan in Ada, Michigan in August 2020.
We were referred to Pennell CPA through our work with Stenger and Stenger, and we are providing oversite, design, and architecture. Pinnacle Construction is providing construction management.
We were referred to Evolution Wealth by BluHouse Properties. We are providing design and architectural services for their new location on Cascade in Grand Rapids.
In addition to our commercial work, we continue to engage with our clients to support their residential needs. We welcome all requests and interest in our ability to support residential planning. Currently, we have residential projects that range from existing home remodels to future residential construction.