Dyer, Riddle, Mills, & Precourt, Inc.

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  • Collaboration
  • Conference
  • Open Office
  • Private Office


  • Performance Environments: Change Management

"Some of us don't think outside the box."

Yet, although Wayne Chalifoux, president and CEO, Dyer, Riddle, Mills, & Precourt, Inc., might describe his firm as cleaving to "every stereotype you can imagine about engineers," the new DRMP building showcases a pleasing blend of private offices, workstations, and collaborative areas. It even contains lines that aren't straight and angles that aren't square.

A well-known engineering firm headquartered in Orlando, DRMP was growing at a sprightly pace and had literally hit the walls in the building it had occupied for 35 years. Everyone had a private office, but over time those offices had shrunk to the size of closets as space was carved into ever smaller bits. As the company grew, attracting new talent in the tight Orlando job market was also an issue.

In its search for a building that would, for the first time, reflect a DRMP image, it became apparent that an environment that was attractive and energizing to a Gen X-er or to a Millennial might look very different from a space that appealed to the Baby Boomers who were running the firm. After all, these are the folks who had labored for years to get that private office, maybe one with a view.

Younger generations of workers, on the other hand, "want gizmos, and they want to be mobile. They want laptops so they can work at home or in the car. They don't care about being tied to an office," says Mr. Chalifoux.

Joining these disparate generations in a space that would allow everyone to flourish generated months of delicate negotiation. The space also had to allow room for growth and to invite a greater sense of unity within the firm, which was divided into seven divisional silos.

The process was facilitated by Heather Dupuy, designer and account development manager, and Jack Tallevast, vice president, both of Herman Miller Workplace Resource (HMWR), who recognized that DRMP decision makers needed education and exposure to a variety of solutions in order to make an informed choice. "They needed ideas," says Dupuy. "We showed them a new way to think about people, furniture, and space."

After a trip to Herman Miller headquarters in Michigan to explore those possibilities, the real work began. "It was brutal," recalls Mr. Chalifoux.""I had been very enthused about the possibility of an open environment after the trip. In the end, however, I was just hoping to come up with a compromise between total walls and a totally open environment."

That compromise incorporated private offices for engineering levels furnished in OFS furniture from First Office, a Herman Miller alliance company. But those perimeter offices have a glass panel beside the door to allow light into the interior. Clusters of 120-degree Ethospace workstations for technicians and support staff furnish the open environment. These not only allow for greater density and easier reconfiguration, but they also create collaborative areas in the center of the clusters that are furnished with elements from The Intersect Portfolio. Meridian lateral files scattered throughout the space are equipped with oval worktops for collaboration. "Now our people don't have to reserve a conference room," says Mr. Chalifoux. "They just put the plans on the worktop."

Mirra seating is standard, with side chairs in workstations and conference rooms from SitOnIt, a Herman Miller alliance partner. Colors are warm tan and vanilla with a stripe in "DRMP red" on fabric tiles throughout the space.

Designing the space was one thing; communicating about it in a way that built buy-in and engagement on the part of the stakeholders was another. Holly Kriger, a Herman Miller workplace knowledge consultant, worked with a team from DRMP to complete the development and planning phases of Herman Miller's change communication process.

Within tight time constraints, DRMP created an intranet site to update staff on the status of the project and to communicate important information. An animated fly-through gave employees a bird's-eye view of their new offices. A theme and graphic identity for the change was created and utilized in the visual messaging. "Finally, everyone in the company had one language and one avenue for communication," says DuPuy.

The move was accomplished seamlessly in a weekend. Employees packed their offices on Friday, and on Monday morning everyone had an office and working computer. And no one has looked back since. As one area was being reconfigured recently, an engineer was heard to say, "Just don't touch my collaborative space."