Traditional office spaces are siloed environments; departments work in separated divisions and the company’s hierarchy is evident from cramped cubicles to spacious, closed-door corner offices. In August 2013, waste and recycling equipment manufacturer Wastequip® abandoned this model in favor of an open environment that fosters teamwork and cross-department collaboration, and the change is paying dividends.
From the CEO to the marketing manager, the typical dividing walls disappeared as a new headquarters office filled with desks, chairs and blue paint. Wastequip embraced this unconventional model, an open office, and more than one year later, they are the proud second-time recipients of Charlotte Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” award.
“We all worked well in our private offices and segmented departments beforehand,” said CEO Marty Bryant, who stepped into the leadership position in 2012. “But the office relocation called for change, and the solitude of those offices needed to go.” He added, “Being named among Charlotte’s ‘Best Places to Work’ for a second consecutive year, despite this significant change within our headquarters environment, proves that we can still offer great benefits to our employees and provide a superior corporate office, yet create a better workplace as well – one that is more comfortable, more collaborative and, overall, more efficient.”
Bryant, as well as VPs and other leadership, have desks within Wastequip’s open office among employees from a variety of departments and management levels; the hierarchy is unclear upon entering the space. Wastequip experienced a boost in morale and communication along with multiple companies that have also followed this trend in 2014. Similar open workplaces can be found among education, technology and healthcare offices in cities such as Louisville, Ky., Boston, Mass. and Washington, D.C.
“Everyone here is more approachable now and working better together as a whole team,” noted Bryant. He mentioned that some individuals were hesitant about the open-office concept as Wastequip relocated its headquarters from a nearby South Park building to the current Morrison Boulevard location. Today, however, the staff has embraced the model.
Wastequip is expanding its open-office environment to other locations around the country including its facilities in Texas and Indiana as well as an office in Ontario.
“Our environment is more equaled, more effective for our work at headquarters and, generally, more positive,” said Bryant. “We’re seeing happier employees and teams that work better together; that alone is worth tearing down the walls.
The collaborative environment isn’t the only reason Wastequip was named one of Charlottes ‘Best Places to Work.’ As employees were surveyed to discuss what makes an organization a great place to work, they didn’t just mention what they can get, but also what they can give back — and not just to the employer, but to the community at large.
Wastequip was saluted among the top three Charlotte-area companies for its community involvement. Through organized community outreach, employee volunteers routinely support several Charlotte-area non-profits including The Sandbox, the Crisis Assistance Ministry, Second Harvest Food Bank, Charlotte Men’s Shelter, YMCA Achievers, and Ace & TJ’s Grin Kids. The company also recently made a $20,000 donation to start-up ‘Doing my Part’ which funds area non-profits at the grassroots level.