“Exactech exists to improve the quality of life for individuals by maintaining their activity and independence.”
Since day one, this purpose has been a guiding force at Exactech. Premier medical implants are what they make, but they’re an innovation company at heart. Purpose drives their product.
Collaboration was in their DNA but the campus didn’t fit Exactech’s culture. Growth had always been ad hoc. Over the course of more than three decades, they added buildings one by one. They’d grow, then build, then change things up six months later. Time was wasted walking back and forth between buildings. Feelings of dissonance and disconnection were on the rise.
While they had looked at their facilities from a lean manufacturing perspective, Exactech had never taken a holistic look at all of their workspaces. When they approached Walker Architects to design a new stand-alone building, they said, “All we need is more space.” During the creation of a first-ever master plan, it became clear that their challenges were much more complex. We needed to look beyond the apparent limits of their property in order to design a space that would exceed its potential and support Exactech’s purpose.
Structural Engineers Group (Structural)
Affiliated Engineers (MEPF)
EDA engineers-surveyors-planners (Civil)
OEC Business Interiors/Steelcase (Furniture)
How exactly do employees interact with each other and with the space? How could things be improved? Before setting pencil to paper, we put our practice of empathy to work and went method. We spent many hours on-site conducting interviews, workshops, and observing Exactech’s people at work. In their words, “We merged with Walker Architects from the very beginning. It was our discovery process.”
Many teammates told us the buildings were too separate – almost as sequestered as two distinct companies. That didn’t fit their intentional pairing of business functions and product teams.
Exactech’s culture is warm, family-oriented, and compassionate. They didn’t need the typical manager’s box that looks down on the production floor like a hawk eyeing its prey. They wanted instead to showcase production and elevate the diverse work that happens every day.
We began to wonder: how might we gather all teams around a common core? What if we make product fabrication the new building’s nucleus – gears, belts, bolts and all?
Before such enticing questions could be addressed, we had to deal with something decidedly uncool but necessary: parking. The expansion was going to require building directly on their parking lot, and a loss of space would create serious problems. Our approach shifted to accommodate the construction of a brand-new parking structure so that people could eventually enjoy a best-in-class workspace and actually have a place to park their vehicles within the same zip code.
Wonder and agility drove our design process. To help them fully embrace their culture of teamwork and innovation, we coached Exactech through a change in work style from sedentary and fixed to mobile and flexible. Our new design eschewed traditional offices and cubicles in favor of open workstations. Employees can sit or stand (the height of every single desk is adjustable for those who feel that “sitting is the new cancer,” as one person told us), be nomadic or claim a regular desk – their choice. Enclosed spaces for 1:1s or focused work can be reserved. Subtle white noise pervades the entire building, and carefully-tuned acoustics channel and dampen sound as needed.
Walker Architects designed happy collision spaces for each business unit, as well as places for cross-team interactions. Both floors offer multi-purpose gathering areas that feature coffee bars and ample bar-height seating.
Surgeons frequently visit Exactech to see new products in development and offer live feedback. A wide loop around the production floor facilitates these tours and integrates the thinking and making that goes into each product.
High tech and high touch converge. Meeting spaces are conveniently equipped with large monitors and intuitive tech. Writeable walls appear around every corner. Bright yellow beams lure the eye towards the production floor and provide pleasing contrast against Exactech’s brand colors. Generous windows pull the outdoors in.
Exactech’s VP of Marketing sent us a video that she took when she looked up one day and realized every single space we designed for their team was in use. The video shows, from her vantage point, people working together in a huddle around a shared TV screen, meeting in an enclosed conference area, chatting around a table, and focusing quietly at workstations. It's a multidisciplinary team in action, doing what they were already doing before but now with adequate settings.
Raw attendance went up, even though Exactech allows remote work. Even the most strident introverts found the open floor plan and soft acoustics provided more privacy than ever before. Everyone is empowered to go where the work takes them, whether it’s heads down or all hands.
– Priscilla Bennett Jones, VP Marketing & Communication
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