An Open Hub for Collaboration and Innovation
In 2014, Watlow’s leaders decided that the company needed a global technological hub that would bring people together as a community, rather than separate them. This was the impetus for a complete building renovation that would result in the creation of the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) at their headquarters in St. Louis. Everything about the new ATC building was designed specifically to make it easy for people to come together—from within the facility or any of Watlow’s global locations—to communicate, collaborate, and share ideas, enabling the creativity and innovation the company prides itself on.
Watlow’s new space has a far more open environment than its predecessor. The number of private offices has been reduced and the few remaining have been located on an inside wall. To further open the space, the amount of bulky physical storage has been reduced in favor or digital files. Not only does the open plan offer more daylight and outside views to the entire office, it invites collaboration and community with easy access to others at workstations and a variety of informal spaces that accommodate quick huddles, work sharing, unplanned meetings, and discussion. New formal conference rooms have been added, as well, to provide the technology needed for presentations and working sessions.
For Watlow, a company that focuses on creating innovative solutions for its customers, keeping valued employees happy and attracting new talent were huge considerations in the creation of its Advanced Technology Center. “We want a workforce that feels energized with autonomy, mastery, and purpose to meet the demanding challenges our customers face,” noted Sheryl Hicks, Watlow Vice President of Human Resources.
While collaboration is important at Watlow, individual workstations are still needed to provide employees with a dedicated personal space for focus work. Multi-generational steering committees were created to help determine what people needed from their workspaces to do their best work, while supporting Watlow’s brand and culture. Mockups of individual workstations were created for the steering committees to try, and adjustments were made based on experiential feedback that would not have been available if everything were just done “on paper.”
Shawn Bailey, Project Manager for Northstar Management Company, observes, “It actually looks like a state-of-the-art facility. It’s a place where folks want to work and be there helping push that cutting edge with their design.”