The HKS Employee Experience

The HKS Employee Experience


In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to adapt to remote work and leverage technology in new ways to shift how we work. In a short span of time, our HKS teams invented ways to complete our work so that we could serve our clients as they weathered the most severe public health crisis and subsequent economic downturn in our lifetimes.

With our nimble technology infrastructure, we pivoted quickly to deliver critical projects to support our communities, including helping health providers expand COVID testing and treatment facilities. We also discovered innovative ways to convert unexpected places, including convention centers and even hotels, into health treatment facilities. In so doing, we wondered: what are we learning now that can teach us how we can continue to deliver better, more seamless design services to our clients throughout this crisis and beyond?

This question led us to an important realization. Work takes place in both physical and digital environments. Work is not a place we go; it is what we do.

This question led us to an important realization. Work takes place in both physical and digital environments. Work is not a place we go; it is what we do.

Understanding this, we felt compelled to clarify the priorities that support our HKS employee experience. Our firm’s leaders determined that the HKS employee experience begins with the following beliefs and principles:

  • We strive to become more resilient in all that we do.
  • We put our people first, prioritizing their well-being in our places and our policies.
  • We balance our work styles to include time in and away from our offices. Both face-to-face collaboration and remote focus time are critical for success.
  • We balance the needs of individuals, teams and our firm.
  • We realize great work by setting clear expectations and holding ourselves accountable for both our productivity and our well-being. With greater trust comes greater responsibility.
  • We demand inclusion and equity, which we realize through communication, mentorship, apprenticeship and opportunity.
  • We make the most of our time together. We ask all our team members to be intentional in building their schedules to optimize both our firm’s productivity and their individual well-being.
HKS Dallas Office
HKS Dallas Office

Adhering to these beliefs and principles will enable us to achieve an array of business outcomes. By empowering individuals to work in the way that best suits them, we will increase productivity and engagement. This means we serve our clients better. Because we prioritize trust and communication, we will strengthen our team-based work and relationships. This, in turn, will serve to elevate even more the already high quality of work that we deliver to our clients.

Another potential benefit? New understandings about what needs to happen in the office will enable us to make strategic decisions about how to leverage our real estate and built environments. By working smarter, we will work better and achieve meaningful results. We are learning from what we do, collecting feedback and data to share with clients. This positions them to make the best decisions underpinned by proven insights on the built environment.

We understand that work is a mix of collaborative and individual tasks. We recognize that each person should choose a work style each day that boosts their productivity and well-being, whether that means working from home to focus, collaborating in an office on a project deadline, or traveling to survey a construction site.

By committing to continue to work this way, we not only empower our employees, but we encourage our leaders to embrace conscious leadership strategies. Leading networked, hybrid teams means we prioritize increased “presence” – virtual or in person – through intentional connection. Bringing equilibrium between work and life means bringing even more of ourselves to work – increased personal connection leads to increased empathy and caring – not only to our team relationships but our client relationships as well. Embracing servant leadership means understanding what your people need to be their best selves – flexible work brings that to the forefront.

Our flexible work experience means that our employees first identify our client’s and firm’s objectives, and then determine when and where they work to meet them. What is most important is that great work continues to get done. Where and when it takes place is up to our teams to decide.

Our office doors are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and our people work at times that optimize their professional performance. That could be any time, any day—leaving space for life’s many demands, from health to family and beyond. The HKS employee experience supports diverse work styles, locations, and times for all. And perhaps most critically, it enables our teams to continue to deliver industry-leading design work through any crisis that comes our way.

The HKS employee experience supports diverse work styles, locations, and times for all.