ASPEN, CO—A workplace can be a source of the daily grind, grueling deadlines and the like, but they also can be centers for wellness, community and creativity. Rowland + Broughton aims to feel like a second home; it’s all about fostering a culture of wellness.
Izzi Wagner heads up culture at the firm and says it’s all thanks to the company’s leaders. Principals John Rowland and Sarah Broughton are champions of a healthy environment for this creative set.
Farmers had it right all along: Contented cows give better milk. Adapted to the environs of the workplace, when leaders cultivate a positive environment, there’s much to gain in terms of productivity, creativity, engagement and loyalty. For many reasons, it’s just the right thing to do.
“We’re such a relationship-based business; we have 65% repeat clients and we value those connections with our clients and each other. This is truly the best place I’ve worked in 22 years,” said Wagner. “Sarah and John don’t have a conventional family, but we’re all each other’s families. It creates a whole different dynamic as professionals because it’s a cutthroat business, as you can imagine, and I love everybody here. Because of Sarah and John and their commitment, this is my extended family.”
The caring, familial atmosphere that is keenly focused on the well-being of its people helps Wagner give it 150% every day and, as a result, she feels stimulated and satisfied at the firm.
“This place is instrumental in my overall health,” she expressed. “Relationships and our people are everything to us. We’d be nothing without them, so we should take care of them. We take intensity breaks where we walk around the block to solve problems, there’s a commitment to ergonomics so our bodies are taken care of and there’s fewer sick days—we’re more efficient. At the core, we care and we want them to thrive.”
The studio-wide practices and priorities include the following:
- Employing the firm’s core values of design, service, integrity, leadership and balance to encourage holistic and strategic growth
- Leading by example and enabling people to grow as individuals and as part of the team
- Succession planning ensures that colleagues, clients and projects are supported and nurtured well into the future
- A wellness benefit is provided to each team member for ski passes, yoga classes, gym memberships, etc.
- In-studio yoga and meditation sessions at lunchtime
- A transparent, open plan work environment and regular rotation of workstations allows the team to effectively mentor, collaborate and synergize with each other
- Support of outside interests and community involvement
- Flexible home work arrangements based on merit
- Teambuilding exercises and outings
- Short-term leave benefits
- One-month sabbaticals for loyal team members
The firm’s wellness code stems partly from the Aspen Idea, a gathering of prominent thinkers and leaders across various segments who share ideas, raise questions and inspire thought to action.
“It’s about how to use our mind, body and spirit in all aspects of our being for humanity and for the problem at hand,” she said. “We take the mind, body and spirit into consideration to accommodate the human function. It’s incorporated into our business plans and relationships with clients; we utilize the outdoors and it’s a big part of our lives.”
Wagner explained that the company’s ethos of respect for well-being led to employees being actively involved in the creation process as well.
“We love our advisory board. It’s composed of people we respect and appreciate. We do a charrette where the team gets together—if this were for a client, we’d order lunch and get together—and collaborates on a design problem,” she said. “We have 500 years of experience combined as design professionals. We gather to discuss what the needs are, where they’ve seen things in the past, and anything we need to create ideal spaces. Our team wanted to thrive and work within the spaces. We asked industry leaders what the trends are, asking how we can make this the most progressive space. If we’re telling people to use sustainable materials, we need to be walking this walk and use these materials.”
This progressive creation and cultivation process is how Rowland + Broughton seals the deal with clients.
“We invite candidates to come in and participate, see our team and how we think and collaborate seamlessly,” she said. “We’re vulnerable and it’s a safe space for exploration. It’s a walking billboard. When they experience it, they get why we’re different from most firms.”