In 2016, LSW was awarded a Vancouver Business Journal Healthiest Company award, highlighting our emphasis on overall health – from body to mind to office culture. The award considered our approach to encouraging physical activity at work, good nutrition and weight management, and how our strategic plan and core values support healthy lifestyles.
Because our office building includes a shower facility and indoor bike racks, our employees can stay active before, during and after the work day. In addition to several people regularly biking to work, it is not uncommon to see LSW employees exercising together during lunch – whether running, rock climbing, or participating in a weekly boot camp class taught by a LSW staffer; we encourage each other to get moving. We also coordinate special events to provide a variety of exercise opportunities, such as:
- Office hikes: Began so those who don’t have the opportunity to go with family or friends could get out and challenge themselves, this has become a popular outing among staff. Completed hikes include Dog Mountain and Angel’s Rest.
- Half Marathons: Some of our staff put their training to the test and completed the Shamrock and Vancouver half marathons.
- Mud Run 5K: A group of 6 staff and their friends completed a Mud Run together. What started as a fun (and muddy) event turned into a great team building experience as the team members helped each other with obstacles and cheered each other on.
- All-Office White Water Rafting Trip: Initiated as a fun team-building experience, the more adventurous among us participated in a white-water rafting trip along the beautiful White Salmon River last July.
Many LSW staff members have made big steps towards implementing healthier lifestyles in the past few years. Our leadership committed to supporting healthier eating by replacing the communal candy bowl with office-provided nutritious snacks. When hunger strikes, our employees can choose from variety of fruits and veggies, hummus, whole wheat and rice crackers, snap pea crisps, string cheese and other healthy choices.
Move Your Feet
In 2016, LSW’s principal, Casey Wyckoff, initiated an idea to outfit staff to encourage exercise in whatever way they chose. The premise of the campaign was that the employee would purchase a pair of athletic shoes, provide a shoe “review” after 30 days of using them, and in turn would be reimbursed up to $100 for their expense. The definition of “athletic shoe” was left open to interpretation – it could include running shoes, hiking boots, water shoes, dance shoes, etc. Read our reviews on Instagram.
Stand Up Desks
One result of a company committee focused on improving our workplace, LSW swapped fixed height workstations for sit-to-stand desks. The motivation behind the change was to promote better ergonomics and movement, as studies prove that standing regularly improves brain function and sitting too long causes strain and fatigue. Each employee was offered monitor arms, keyboard trays and anti-fatigue mats for their desk, in order to provide a configuration that was most comfortable.
We think it’s important to support healthy families and to give employees an opportunity to participate in outside organizations and interests. Many of our staff members are active participants in professional organizations like the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE), and the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). In addition to industry-related organizations, we also have employees who referee volleyball for the NCAA; volunteer for community organizations like F.I.S.H.; teach elementary age students about architecture and design; mentor students in design competitions; and travel to other countries to do humanitarian work.
LSW Book Club
Another way we support the growth and health of our employees is through our book club. Periodically, we read a selected book a few chapters at a time and meet over an all-staff lunch every couple of weeks to discuss a portion of the book in depth – often taking on insightful questions of ourselves. Our library includes Move Your Bus by Ron Clark and The Power of TED by David Emerald.
Our office is built on collaboration and communication. We hold a few events throughout the month to encourage discussion and brainstorming about projects, products, and design in general. On some of our larger projects, we hold design charrettes to generate new ideas and help solve design challenges. Twice-monthly we plan a social gathering at the end of the day that usually includes a visit to a local eatery and sometimes a discussion of what we’re working on or a walking tour to learn more about local history and architecture.
Best Place to Work Team
Our Best Place to Work Team has a wide range of focus, including the physical space, procedures, best practices, office culture, team building, benefits, continuing education, office fun, etc. Ideas for the BPTW Team projects are generated by the team and through suggestions from others in the office, creating an outlet for communication of desired office improvements and office events.
The LSW Green Team focuses on the operational and design practices of LSW as they relate to sustainable design and living. To begin, we became certified as a Clark County Green Business. As part of the certification process, the Green Team dove headfirst into a waste audit of the office, quantifying the amount of garbage, recyclable materials, and compostable materials we produce in a week. From the results, we’ve made efforts to improve our operational practices, especially as they relate to recycling.
The Green Team is also developing a framework to expand on best design practices. This ongoing effort will continue to grow our sustainability toolkit – such as implementation of daylighting software, sustainable materials research, and considering participation in initiatives such as the Architecture 2030 commitment.