Case Study

A Future-thinking Office Refresh Embraces a Digital-Forward Strategy

The Challenge

HKS designers partnered with McKinley Advisors, a consulting firm, to reimagine their Washington, D.C. office space for when employees returned following COVID-19 closures. As an organization dedicated to accelerating associations’ positive impact on the world, McKinley needed the space to meet the digital-forward needs of both their staff and clients. HKS’ approach incorporated staff input throughout the process to ensure alignment with expectations for an ideal work environment and expression of McKinley’s organizational core values.

The Design Solution

Using a data driven approach, HKS Advisory and Commercial Interiors teams worked together with the McKinley team to analyze prior employee survey data and deploy a continuation survey. This gauged interest in returning to the office and uncovered in-office, virtual and hybrid expectations, perceptions and experiences. The survey questions spanned from the pragmatic to the experiential to guide the holistic design and strategy approach. 

Survey results highlighted in-person team collaboration and professional development as the main reasons for coming into the office. To embrace the staff’s community-based motivators to come into the office, HKS focused on reallocating and redefining the existing workstations and individual office spaces to build new and more collaboration-focused spaces. 

In addition, the teams overlaid insights with senior leadership vision to bring various layers of design recommendations (e.g., furniture, layout, lighting and space typologies) with McKinley’s digital-forward company policy. The targeted recommendations, all non-structural interventions, for a $100,000 investment included reallocating most private offices to shared huddle/teaming rooms, refreshing conference and kitchen spaces and removing cubicles to replace them with an open, collaboration zone. The design team also recommended investing in updated technology to support hybrid employee/client teams.

The Design Impact

In 2021, McKinley announced that their staff could continue to have the option to work in-person in the Washington, D.C. office or remotely in approved areas. The firm implemented a new concept of “anchor days” to encourage teams to be in-person for professional development and hackathon sessions as COVID protocols continued to evolve to the changing CDC guidance to ensure all staff felt safe coming into the office.  

A post-occupancy employee survey found a high level of satisfaction with the new space and offered additional ideas for the next phase of renovation. McKinley implemented the staff feedback and improved signage that communicated new room types and functionality and provided training on the technology in the office. Today, the space is being used regularly for engaging hybrid programming and client events such as workshops, brainstorming sessions and collaborative meetings. 

Washington Business Journal, in partnership with Quantum Workplace, assessed employee satisfaction through staff surveys focusing on company culture, leadership, employee engagement, employee benefits and more. Based on those survey results, McKinley Advisors was named one of Washington Business Journal’s 2022 “Best Places to Work” in the Washington, D.C. region after the renovation project was completed. In 2023, McKinley was named a “Best Places to Work” honoree for the second year in a row. 

A work ecosystem with both structure and functional choice can foster a more adaptable and agile workforce. Click buttons to change ecosystem examples.

Working within the context of our client’s existing lease and repurposing existing furniture, we were able to reimagine space allocations to be shared and collaborative while providing the maximum variety of needs for on-site, hybrid and remote employees and guests alike. Click buttons to view floorplans.

“The partnership with HKS unlocked so much potential in our workspace. The team helped us to rethink how we were leveraging our space as a hub for collaboration. Today, our people don’t usually come into the office to sit on conference calls or Zoom meetings. Instead, they come to connect with their colleagues, to learn about the latest trends in our service lines and collaborate on new solutions for our clients. The space is more functional, enables more hybrid meetings and continues to support us as we grow.”

Suzanna Kelley, MBA, FAIA, Chief Experience Officer

Project Features

  • 7,000 sf space supports in-person needs for a ‘digital-forward’ and collaborative organization 
  • ‘Anchor days’ where staff are encouraged to come in-office for trainings, workshops and team meetings once a month outside of general work needs 
  • Think Tank/Zoom Rooms are the highest-use spaces 
  • Semi-annual ‘all hands’ events provide firmwide in-office events 
  • Collaboration Zone facilitates informal collaboration and large-format meetings