CV #10 t u r n e r b o o n e: How to Create Good Energy in the Workplace
COMPANY AT A GLANCE
Founded: In 2004 by Ellen Turner and Laura Boone. Through their combined experience working in furniture dealerships and manufacturing, they were inspired to change the commodity-style office furniture business into an experience that goes way beyond transactional procurement.
Employees: 30 employees | 2017 Revenue: 28 million
Purpose: To contribute to their clients’ long-term success by elevating the human experience through workspaces that improve employee engagement, collaboration, and innovation.
Values: Accountable, Caring, Accessible
Community: Most recently, every Friday in June they sent a different team over to help build a house in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity. They support the local art community by featuring artwork by local artists in the showroom. They have a rap music studio in the building and they also offer their space to the community to host events.
LET THE TOUR BEGIN
Given their industry, it may not come as a surprise that turnerboone’s space is gorgeous. The building is a 100+ year old historic King Plow steel smelting plant and they’ve kept the original brick and even one of the old metal pulleys in their space. The building has beautiful big windows, high ceilings, creative artworks and of course, fabulous furniture. But this wasn’t always the case.
In fact, Ellen and Laura began working out of a moldy basement on REI camping chairs. With some success, they were able to eventually upgrade to an office at an old abandoned high school and then eventually to a nice condo, that they so conveniently bought right before the economy crashed. Had it not been for the expanding credit card companies who reached out to turnerboone to create their workspace stations, this may have been the end of turnerboone. However, their surviving, eventually turned into thriving, and ultimately led to them purchasing this historic and beautiful building they have today.
I share this because Laura and Ellen come from very humble roots and I believe that their story is intertwined with the history of their beautiful building and the tangible shift in energy you feel the moment you walk in the door: calm, present, and inspired. This especially made sense when Co-Founder and Principal, Laura Boone, shared with me that they are very intentional about creating good energy in the workplace, because it’s an important part of their company culture today.
In addition to meeting with Laura, I had the chance to meet with Brand & Creative Director, Abby Hayes, Executive Vice President, Tara O’Gorman, and Project Manager, Parashar Joshi (PJ). Here’s what I learned:
1. How You Design Your Workspace Matters
As a best-in-class furniture dealer for Haworth, turnerboone uses their workspace methodology when designing solutions for clients. According to Haworth’s methodology, there are four types of workstyle categories based on a person’s level of interaction (high to low) and type of knowledge (tactical to strategic).
These are the four categories: 1) Connector: “people who work together to generate new ideas and connect them to strategy.” 2) Crew: “people who work in teams focused on tactical objectives and deliverables.” 3) Master: “people with deep domain expertise who work alone developing strategic concepts.” 4) Specialist: “People who work mostly alone focused on specific tasks and deliverables.” According to Haworth, when you design workspaces that mirror how people work within the organization, what’s expected of them, and what they prefer, you will see a direct impact in performance.
2. Workspace Well-Being
While there are various types of workspaces, all of them should promote workspace well-being. This includes making sure that all teammembers have: good acoustics, adjustable furniture, lots of greenery, lots of natural light, low glare, and daylight accessibility. According to Laura, daylight accessibility is the most important because it can have profound impacts on mood and quality of sleep.
3. Vulnerability in the Workplace
A very important part of turnerboone’s culture is vulnerability. By vulnerability, I mean having the courage to admit your fears, share your dreams, own your mistakes, talk about your personal life, and ask for help. As Executive Vice President, Tara O’Gorman, put it “I always kept my personal and professional life separate, until turnerboone.” How do they practice vulnerability? As Tara shared, “We talk about our fears and open up to one another. Often this means, that I‘ll share my fears candidly with folks first and then ask them to share theirs.” In one-on-one’s, they’ll also ask employees what, if anything, is keeping you up at night? and talk about it. This is because in addition to vulnerability, trusting your intuition is also very important to turnerboone. For this reason, in addition to regular processes and procedures, they take the time to do “gut checks” and ask one another, how a deal makes them feel.
4. Employee Ownership Mentality
Part of what makes turnerboone so successful is their employee-ownership mentality. Laura and Ellen recognize that they cannot own the culture, because the culture belongs to everyone. For this reason, they share all of their financial data with employees on a quarterly basis. They let employees know exactly how they’re doing and what needs to happen in order for them to make or exceed their numbers as a team. This level of transparency has a profound impact on employees and helps them to understand how their individual contributions matter in the bigger picture. It also means that there are no surprises.
In the spirit of employee-ownership, they also empowered employees to write the core values of the company, versus dictating their own. In a three-day process, guided by an outside facilitator, they had very meaningful discussions about who they are as a company and what values they would never compromise both internally or externally.
5. A Strong Partnership Creates a Strong Culture
Though much has changed over the last 14 years, Ellen and Laura have always made it a point to have a standing weekly therapy appointment together. Regardless of whether or not they have anything to talk about, it’s been instrumental in their business and personal relationship, and ultimately, the company’s success.
turnerboone is all about relationships. It starts with the investment that Ellen and Laura make in maintaining their relationship with one another and trickles throughout the organization in how employees treat each other, their customers, and their communities. This all goes back to Laura’s comment on creating great energy. Treating each other well creates great energy, and in turn, attracts great people and great customers. It's that simple, and that hard.