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This piece is presented by Interstate Office Products.
Interstate Office Products and Interstates Control Systems share more than part of their names: The two companies support forward-thinking, engaged workplaces.
So when the Sioux Falls-based office design and furniture business started working with the Iowa-based electrical and automation business on an office plan, visions easily aligned.
Interstates has had a Sioux Falls office since 1999. The company is based in Sioux Center and has more than 800 employees worldwide. It provides electrical engineering, construction, instrumentation and control-system solutions to industry and commercial clients.
The Sioux Falls office is a resource hub for the company.
“Basically anything that touches a wire inside a manufacturing or processing facility, we can design, install, calibrate and communicate with,” said Reid Vander Veen, director of marketing and communications. “We do work for many of Fortune’s largest companies around the globe, with big data and the Internet of Things. We’ve been playing in it before it was cool.”
The company’s original office, though, wasn’t so cool. Employees were cramped, and the workspace felt dated. In 2014, when it expanded to the former DocuTap building at 4701 W. Research Drive, it worked with IOP to plan its space and furnishings.
“At that point, we tried things that were really new for us,” asset manager Blair Harp said. “We ventured pretty far from our normal with something that was a lot more modern, more open, and we did height-adjustable desks, which were fairly new.”
The impact on staff was obvious.
“The first few months, people were a little unsure because it was so open, but now that they’ve been in it, I don’t think they would ever go back,” he said.
“We see the desks get a lot of use, with people standing for a couple hours and then going back to being seated. That’s exactly what you’re looking for. They move throughout the day, do what they need to be comfortable and get work done.”
The space was designed to accommodate Interstates for five years. Instead, it filled with workers in less than three years.
The company temporarily located some workers in the nearby Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship while an expansion was finished.
Contractor Journey Group collaborated with IOP to continue the look and feel of the current office into the 17,500-square-foot addition as Interstates more than doubled its space.
“We replicated what we had done on the initial side and then incorporated some new things they hadn’t tried before,” IOP designer Marcia Young explained. “They were really forward-thinking and really open to trying new products that had just come out.”
Here’s a look at five ways Interstates made its already progressive office even more employee-friendly:
This piece from Steelcase allows a worker “to have a little privacy in a very comfortable seat,” Young said. “There’s a footrest and privacy screen around it and space for a laptop.”
Harp, who occasionally spends time in the Sioux Falls office, grabs the seat whenever he can. “I use it all the time,” he said. “I set up and am in and out as I need to.”
Bivi is another signature product from Steelcase. “It’s a benching system, so it’s very open, and this particular one has an option for seated height and standing,” Young said. “It’s an area where they might have mobile workers come in and a really flexible space they were missing on the other side of the building.”
An area of the expanded office includes whiteboard walls, common seating areas and a space where employees can work off of the same screen. “Our collaboration spaces see quite a bit of traffic,” Vander Veen said.
From phone booth-space spots to lots of nooks and crannies designed for people to duck into as needed, the new space includes lots of spots to take a phone call or work quietly. “I think those are highly used to give people a private place,” Young said. In addition, a Steelcase sound masking system was installed to help reduce noise distractions and give users in the open plan more speech privacy.
Interstates’ old break room often doubled as a big conference room. The new one features a variety of seating, lots of light, a ping-pong table and space for potlucks.
“People feel welcome to use it anytime, but it was designed so you can’t have a big meeting there,” Harp said. “I don’t know that we would have known how to think that way five years ago. We always thought we need to maximize the use or we’re wasting space.”
Collaborating with IOP has helped Interstates modernize, Harp said.
“We have a great relationship. We’ve been working with them a long time,” he said.
“In 2014, they knew our general style, and we asked them to push us outside our comfort zone to find something more modern and collaborative. They helped us work out a really good solution, and the big win is that we put in another 17,000 square feet of it because it worked so well.”
The investment is a critical one, the company said. The office now has space for about 150 employees – 50 more than currently on staff – and Interstates intends to use its office space to show those workers it’s serious about a culture of technology and innovation.
“We’re one of the better-kept secrets in the area,” Vander Veen said.
“We find a lot of our talent is younger and kind of new to the workforce, and it can be hard to convince them to go live in small-town northwest Iowa. So we have this resource hub for people looking for a bigger city, and we really like our new space. It went exceptionally well.”
Ever heard of Interstates Control Systems? If not, you’re probably not alone. But walk into their newly expanded office, and that impression quickly changes.