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PLTW: New headquarters provide ideal example of hybrid workplace

Project Lead The Way provides students with transformative learning experiences. On the cusp of its 25-year anniversary, the organization did some transforming of its own by developing a new headquarters.

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A non-profit organization, Project Lead The Way (PLTW) works with teachers and students from pre-K to 12th grade developing the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in life beyond the classroom. PLTW has given millions of students real-world experiences through world-class programming. Yet in Indianapolis—where PLTW is based—the organization’s office needed an upgrade. PLTW was subleasing their space and taking over spaces on different floors as its team expanded. As a result, PLTW’s old furniture consisted of both pieces the team had selected themselves and furniture they inherited from previous tenants.

As PLTW approached its 25-year milestone, they faced a landmark opportunity: to make a fresh start by purchasing a two-story building. They engaged OfficeWorks to furnish the new headquarters.

“This was a unique moment for PLTW,” said Camille Inchauste, account executive at OfficeWorks. “They could start with a blank canvas, creating headquarters that reflect their mission and support their team members and visitors.”

From leased to leading edge
According to Sam Cox, executive vice president and chief operations and logistics officer at PLTW, one of the organization’s biggest goals for their new headquarters was to provide a flexible, collaborative workplace.

“Organizations have learned that while their people can be productive at home, having a collaborative environment is important,” Sam said. “For many PLTW Team Members, their main office is their home, so we wanted to provide an inviting space where they could connect with each other and with our partners to deliver high quality programs for students across the country.”

Those efforts include training teachers to be facilitators.

“We were hosting training virtually but heard feedback that we needed to get back to face-to-face,” Sam said. “Now we have a combined approach, and our new building will host close to 500 teachers this year.”

Along with training, PLTW wanted to provide areas that would accommodate team planning sessions and special events.

“Each team brings their team members together at least once a year,” Sam said. “We wanted to give them a space conducive to collaborating, partnering, and setting goals.”

Flexible, collaborative, and ready for what’s next
OfficeWorks partnered with PLTW and Parallel Design Group to create an inviting environment that achieved their vision. And they accomplished it with half the square footage of the previous space.

“OfficeWorks helped us understand the latest trends in furniture and in the workplace,” Sam said. “Together, we came up with a state-of-the-art example of what a hybrid workspace looks like.”

Gathering spaces are featured throughout the office.

“We have pods with whiteboards that allow two or three team members to have quick think tank and partnering sessions,” Sam said. “Our social hub provides a place to have lunch and features games and other amenities. It’s an opportunity to take five or 10 minutes to decompress and network during the workday.”

On the first floor, movable furniture allows PLTW to expand spaces to host a variety of gatherings.

“We have a nice board room, an event space, and a furnished patio,” Sam said. “The design allows us to open the entire bottom floor to host special events and take advantage of our natural surroundings.”

That flexible approach is modeled throughout the facility, from the height-adjustable workstations to the use of Framery phone booths.

“Agility is important in today’s workplace,” Camille said. “We took time to understand how much space and storage people needed and offered PLTW flexible solutions that accommodated both visiting and resident team members. The phone booths solved a key challenge by creating a floorplan that accommodates future growth and changes.”

Leading the way for successful partnerships
Much like the resulting environment, the design process itself was a story of adaptability and collaboration.

“We made some last-minute changes, and OfficeWorks accommodated them nicely,” Sam said. “Even with the supply chain challenges everyone was facing at the time, OfficeWorks communicated with us and helped get the products as quickly as possible.”

From OfficeWorks’ perspective, Camille appreciated PLTW’s openness to receiving ideas and their ability to provide clear feedback throughout the process.

“PLTW is a great partner, and they’re fun to work with,” Camille said. “We’ve worked with them for several years, so it was nice to see how they have progressed—and at OfficeWorks, we’ve progressed, too. We’re growing together.”

“It’s fulfilling to work with partners like PLTW who value the importance of furniture, how it functions, and its relationship to brand and culture,” added Megan Minnich, senior designer at OfficeWorks.

Together, the team has created a new headquarters that—like the organization it houses–is leading the way.

“I could work from home if I wanted to, but I love coming into work every day,” Sam said. “Working closely with OfficeWorks, we turned our space into something really special.”

Project Team
Interior Design: Parallel Design Group