CSM Group forges the workplace of tomorrow

STORY 269 MAGAZINE

When CSM Group, a corporation specializing in revolutionary construction projects, was invited by Kalamazoo-based developer Treyster to reimagine an abandoned plot of land just outside Kalamazoo it jumped at the chance. What was once an antique metal foundry has been reopened as an open-office hive of operations that melds a vintage industrial aesthetic with cutting-edge office design. Claiming a spot of its own in this urban office space, CSM has developed an optimal workspace intended to maximize the productivity and overall wellness of its employees.

Rebelling against the old, oppressive cubicle-style arrangement of desks, CSM offers both privacy and opportunity for teamwork. Small, comfortably furnished conference rooms allow for close collaboration, while an open communal kitchen with ample island-style counterspace allows for classic “water cooler” conversations. This design gives team members the chance to stand up, walk in and out, and participate in groups. “For our space, CSM has adopted a theory of creating a physically and emotionally safe environment,” says Jim Feltch, divisional president of healthcare and advanced technologies, “This aids in a work-life balance; you can even work outside by the river.”

By providing a more habitable physical space, CSM has seen a large improvement in the emotional wellbeing of its employees. “These changes promote better relationships, more open conversations, and more real communication,” says Feltch, “People can let loose and let down their guard. Then the heart and soul of the conversation can bear itself.”

CSM looks forward to sharing the new space with other companies and a restaurant as a way to improve interactions even more. “Bonds between people can be created in many ways, but one of them is breaking bread together. Having a restaurant adjacent to our facility gives the opportunity to extend or expand that bond. I think that’s going to be a really big plus for client interaction, a customer service interaction, and internal collaboration,” explains Feltch. Giving employees the freedom to speak freely in an open workspace, outside on a tastefully appointed veranda, or over a meal, CSM seeks to strengthen the ties that bring people together through innovative design.

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