Tag Archives: Melissa Spearman

DLR Group

August 10, 2017 by

This sponsored content appears in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/b2b_0817_125/1?e=1413765/50121072

The most productive employees are those who are happy and who enjoy their work environment. As modern, open offices remain popular, an agile approach to workplace design provides flexibility for workers that contributes to productivity
and happiness.

DLR Group is an employee-owned, integrated design firm with 26 offices and more than 1,000 design professionals worldwide. The firm’s dedicated Workplace Studio researches, evaluates, and executes designs for the modern workplace— using the agile methodology regularly.

“Agile design is an effective tool for making workplaces functional for the generational demographics that make up our workforce,” says Melissa Spearman, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Associate and Workplace Leader at DLR Group’s Omaha office.

The once-largest generation in the workplace, baby boomers, are retiring or working primarily in management positions. Spearman says these workers are accustomed to structured environments and formally designed spaces.

“Meanwhile, millennials have claimed their stake as the largest group in today’s workforce,” Spearman says. “Millennials have ridden atop the wave of technological advancement and learned to adapt quickly as new systems emerge. They are already agile and expect the latest technologies to be available in their workplace.”

Sitting in-between are Gen X workers. These employees are excited about the flexibility new workplace methodologies can provide, as long as it contributes to a healthy work-life balance.

The eldest members of Gen Z are finishing college and entering the workforce now. Spearman says her team is still learning about the work style of Gen Z, but it is clear they are agile self-motivators. Personal development is a constant in their lives, and they need space for it in their
future workplaces.

The question Spearman’s team aims to solve for each workplace client is: How can one workplace support, encourage, grow and—most importantly–appeal to all of the generations in the current workforce? Spearman says an agile workplace design methodology encompasses six key principles:

1. Focus Zones—Heads down workspace where employees can focus without interruptions. 

2. Smart and Connected Spaces—Areas with integrated technology for teams and individuals to gather. Spaces can include a huddle room, nook, or any designated areas within the office that allow for use of digital tools and power.

3. Flexibility—Utilizing furniture from a kit of parts to create optimal flexibility and interchangeability.

4. Collaboration Spaces—Areas for employees to engage in quick chats and impromptu collaboration.

5. Teaming Areas—With today’s multifaceted workplace environment, these spaces allow employees to work in teams to solve problems and strategize.

6. Community Space—Expanding the breakroom into a multi-function space for many different uses allows it to be a gathering space for all-office meetings, a place to hold an afterhours event, or a gathering place for others in the
community to enjoy.

“To accommodate today’s varied workforce, DLR Group’s Workplace Studio focuses on designing spaces around motivated individuals,” Spearman says. “Providing an agile environment with a variety of workspace areas to support various generational needs helps employees get
their jobs done.”

DLR Group
6457 Frances Street, Suite 200
Omaha, NE 68106
402.393.4100
dlrgroup.com

 

Educational Building Design

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by DLR Group

School buildings have come a long way from the stately, institutional structures of yesteryear. Today’s newest K-12 environments echo some of the best elements of commercial and residential design trends, say representatives of integrated design firm DLR Group.

“What we really see as far as trends are a lot of renovations, a lot of energy retrofits, and a big push for security measures as well,” says architect and DLR Group principal Pat Phelan, K-12 sector leader.Marysville-Getchell-High-School-Campus_Web

While established structures in longstanding neighborhoods undergo renovation and expansion, most of the new construction has been in elementary schools, says architect and DLR Group principal Mark Brim, K-12 designer. He adds that it’s a matter of numbers related to how school districts are structured, explaining that “for every high school you build, you’re going to be building three, maybe four, elementary schools and maybe two middle schools.”

One lesson learned from the past is planning for future expansion during new construction and major renovation, Phelan says. “With some of the older buildings that weren’t designed for expansion, those present some unique challenges, obviously.”

Brim adds: “We’ve had the opportunity to work with the rapidly growing districts here in the metro area. In those cases, the new buildings we were involved with, we did master-plan those to expand as enrollment increases.”IMG_8674_Web

District residents also have a vested interest in their school buildings, and today’s schools include spaces that can be adapted to serve the community for activities from public meetings to presentations and receptions. Of course, durability is also a consideration when it comes to school buildings with a life expectancy of 75 years or more.

“It’s selecting the right yarn type so the carpet will hold up, or high performance paint,” explains Melissa Spearman, DLR Group senior associate and interior designer leader.Creighton-Preparatory-School_Web

“A school is going to have a lot of traffic. It may not have a lot of money to fund a lot of maintenance,” Brim adds. “Energy efficiency is always a concern, but also sustainability with the push for green architecture, and not only on the energy side but also with use of more environmentally friendly materials and recycled materials.”

Spearman says function now drives form when school interiors are planned.

“We’re seeing how the teachers interact with the students or how the students can work in small groups, how different collaboration zones are set up, or how maybe they’re studying in common spaces and those are becoming more gathering spaces,” she says.Joplin-11th-&-12th-Grade-Interim-Campus_Web

“We’re really focusing more on the learning environment overall,” Phelan agrees. “That involves bringing natural light into as many spaces as we can, it means comfortable climate, it means transparency so students are more engaged in what’s going on in different spaces.”

Phelan explains that engagement elements range from wi-fi to adding more display areas for student works to considering environmental features evocative of where students naturally congregate, like the comfortable, portable seating in malls or coffee shops.

“We think that research supports the fact that the learning environment has an impact on the performance of students in the classroom. As a result, DLR Group has become the number-one K-12 firm in the country,” Phelan says. “That’s something that we take a lot of pride in, and we don’t rest on that; we know we have to continue to always look to the future, look to innovate, and listen to our clients.”