The Orlans Group is a women-owned company made up of 500 employees in three law firms serving seven states and the District of Columbia, along with five companies serving clients and customers nationwide all focused on real estate. The company’s core purpose is: “We are passionate about the right to own, use and invest in real property. You can trust us, because land matters.”
Based in Troy, Mich., The Orlans Group owns a two-story office location there that serves as home to more than 300 employees. Additionally, the company has employees in various states including Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and Massachusetts. Its renovated building in Troy was professionally redesigned with environmentally green principles in mind and decorated with soft colors, artwork, huddle rooms, a mix of offices and co-mingled work stations, kitchens and eating areas, recycle stations throughout, and TV monitors to communicate company information.
But something was missing, and it took the company’s founder Linda Orlans to identify an opportunity to better market the company and improve employee morale by creating a multipurpose meeting area. When asked for her inspiration for this area, she said, “One cold winter day our building manager moved our lunch tables away from the building foyer into vacated office space. In spite of the tables crowded into a small area surrounded by boxes and discarded desk parts, more people were sitting together for breaks and lunches. I thought ‘how good is this?’ With some paint, imagination and effort were we able to convert this newly found space into a place where everyone could enjoy time together not only for breaks and lunch but for meetings, community gatherings and after-work events.
“As part of the company’s focus to positively impact our culture and invest in our key strategies to ‘Create and maintain the right brand image,’ ‘Invest in employee excellence,’ and ‘Promote and maintain a winning team environment,’ this space would be used to market our business, conduct training sessions, support our charitable efforts, and create a comfortable and inviting place for our employees to relax.”
Like most companies, this discretionary spending was unbudgeted and some on the executive team questioned the need for such a room and expense. However, with Linda’s vision, persistence and guidance managing a tight budget, she executed a plan to turn this room into a modern, urban-type setting, paying homage to the company values, its lines of business, and the city of Detroit.
The Orlans Center is painted vibrant orange and features polished, unfinished floors. The room has new orange ergonomical and functional chairs offset by bright white lunch and training tables. A wall was painted so that it can be used as a giant white board, while another wall serves as a giant chalkboard where employees can call out positive work to honor their coworkers. A full kitchen and long serving table are used for catered events, and a 90-inch, high-definition Smart TV is available for employees to watch the news or sporting events, and of course for business and training presentations.
Six months later, has the Orlans Center achieved its goal to support the company’s key strategies? The data is very encouraging, and additions and enhancements are likely in the near future.
The Orlans Group now has a dynamic meeting space where it can invite clients and customers to come see the facility and meet the team. To showcase this new room, Orlans hosted and funded in collaboration with the Community House in Birmingham the “2014 Emerging Leaders Seminars for Women.” For several months, more than 60 women from current and potential clients and customers attended classes and working lunches to learn personal and business ideas and tips from successful women.
As part of our company values, Orlans also likes to give back to the community through charitable contributions and volunteerism. We have hosted several fundraisers and planning events in the Orlans Room, bringing in diverse thought leaders from the community. This room was also recognized as one of the finalists in the Troy Chamber of Commerce Building of The Year competition for 2014.
Invest in employee excellence
In 2015, The Orlans Group committed to provide all management with 32 hours of on-site soft skills training and eight hours of on-site soft skills training to non-management personnel. The 5,000 available square feet, along with breakout sitting areas, the smart TV and the giant white board, provide employees with ample room to engage with one another while learning new skills.
Dr. Keith Levick, a training facilitator, recently led three classes of 75 employees each on the topic of building a high-performance team. His sessions included highly interactive learning using a hula-hoop, tennis balls and other group activities. When asked about this training space, Dr. Levick remarked, “This is one of the most functional, modern and interactive spaces I’ve used for training. It provides a warm, open area for employees to engage and get to know one another better.”
Promote and maintain a winning team environment
As the company works to promote and maintain a winning team environment through training, communication and interaction, President Alison Orlans summarizes the importance of this area, “The Orlans Center’s multifunctional design has provided us with much needed space to collaborate, communicate and celebrate while also providing our team members with space to relax, study or mingle with each other. It serves as a common gathering place where we can all come together and build relationships with people we may not otherwise interact with on a daily basis. Building relationships with each other fosters communication, collaboration and a winning team environment — all important components of the culture we are creating.”
The Orlans Center has hosted a variety of employee-focused functions that previously would have been held off site or conducted in smaller groups. In August, employees that have been with the company for 10-plus years were invited with their significant others to a Saturday night dinner and dancing celebration featuring a 14-piece band and a fully catered dinner in a room that was decorated to resemble a modern nightclub for the evening.
Other activities the room has played host to include the employee holiday party in December, and breakfasts and lunches where senior management serves employees. Additionally, the company now has ample space to get all 300 employees in two groups of 150 to sit together for its twice-a-year “town hall” meetings, using the Smart TV and white board to communicate relevant company information.
“We need the best from everyone who comes to work and we work hard to give them our best,” said Linda Orlans. “If having a comfortable place where people can enjoy a few minutes to relax, make friends and feel valued is important, then we have succeeded.”
To have an area like the Orlans Center allows the company to positively affect the culture, market and generate new business, all while supporting its key strategies. And, smiles have abounded on employees’ faces as they engage with one another in the new space.
– Mark J. Albrecht is the Senior Director of Human Resources for The Orlans Group (www.orlans.com). He can be reached at 248-502-1400 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.