Andrew Fritz meets with the team to share office technology updates

Office Evolution: Q&A With Andrew Fritz on BP’s Reimagined Office

In Bell­mont Part­ners’ 28-year his­to­ry, our work­spaces have evolved near­ly as much as our team and the pub­lic rela­tions indus­try as a whole have in that time­frame. From work­ing from home before WFH was a thing, to cre­at­ing an ear­ly office in a for­mer work­out stu­dio in Pri­or Lake, to being pio­neers of hybrid work years before the COVID pan­dem­ic, we’re adept at adapt­ing our envi­ron­ments to the needs of a grow­ing team. (Take a trip down mem­o­ry lane for more details on each of these chap­ters in our history.)

When it came time to reimag­ine Bell­mont Part­ners’ Edi­na office, which we’ve called head­quar­ters for 10 years, we knew a few things would be impor­tant: 1) Flex­i­bil­i­ty for our hybrid team, with some folks in the office one day a week and oth­ers there near­ly every day. 2) Upgrad­ed tech­nol­o­gy to match the real­i­ty of today’s work. 3) More meet­ing spaces for collaboration.

Team members have a collaborative meeting in a redesigned conference room

How to achieve all these goals in the exist­ing foot­print – and amidst an over­all refresh of car­pet, paint, ceil­ing tiles, lights, HVAC improve­ments and more – was a func­tion­al design rid­dle that we PR prac­ti­tion­ers knew we couldn’t crack alone.

Enter Andrew Fritz, oper­a­tions con­sul­tant extra­or­di­naire. With a back­ground in agency oper­a­tions and an eye for design, Andrew helped us gath­er input from the entire team on what every­one want­ed to see in the updat­ed space to do their best work, and then worked tire­less­ly to crack the code on a reimag­ined office for 2024 and beyond. Read on for an inter­view with Andrew about the process and new­ly reimag­ined space.

The team has been in this space for 10 years and has grown sig­nif­i­cant­ly dur­ing that time, espe­cial­ly dur­ing the work-from-home pan­dem­ic years. Between that and the chang­ing work styles in recent years (hel­lo, more video calls!), what was impor­tant to keep in mind dur­ing this refresh? 

As we are all well-aware, the in-office expe­ri­ence has shift­ed more dra­mat­i­cal­ly in the past four years than any oth­er time. It was so enlight­en­ing to be a part of the process with the BP team, learn­ing how they pre­fer to work, and how that could be trans­lat­ed into the space. Since the agency grew expo­nen­tial­ly through­out the pan­dem­ic, there was not a prece­dent for how the entire team of today had worked togeth­er in a phys­i­cal space pre-pan­dem­ic. With BP’s long his­to­ry of a hybrid work sched­ule, the focus was not on ‘get­ting peo­ple back in the office’ but on mak­ing the space a flex­i­ble place to con­nect and col­lab­o­rate. The first thing we added to the dock­et was new tech­nol­o­gy in our core con­fer­ence rooms to make vir­tu­al meet­ings with clients and col­leagues more seam­less. We also added a new-to-BP hotel­ing sys­tem for our desks that allows the space to be scal­able for poten­tial­ly more new hires in the years to come, allow pri­vate offices for our clients when they are in-office, which also serves as a ‘who’s com­ing into the office when’ touch­stone for the agency.

Flexible seating allows for numerous types of collaboration

We embrace our core val­ues – col­lab­o­ra­tive, con­nect­ed, invest­ed, flex­i­ble and trans­par­ent – in all that we do. We also have a com­mit­ment to envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­i­ty and want­ed to ensure the space was wel­com­ing and inclu­sive for all employ­ees, clients and vis­i­tors. How did these val­ues come through in the office update to help us serve our clients and col­leagues best?

At a time when many com­pa­nies are down­siz­ing or doing away with their phys­i­cal offices, ‘Invest­ed’ comes to the fore­front. The deci­sion to not only keep the phys­i­cal space, but to ren­o­vate and rein­vent shows how these core val­ues dri­ve the com­pa­ny. ‘Con­nect­ed’ and ‘Col­lab­o­ra­tive’ work bet­ter when we’re all togeth­er in one space. Vir­tu­al meet­ings have their ben­e­fits, how­ev­er, there is no sub­sti­tute for per­son-to-per­son col­lab­o­ra­tion to stay con­nect­ed to our team and clients. When polling the team on what fea­tures they would like includ­ed in the revamp, it was cru­cial to make sure the entire space was flex­i­ble. Dou­ble-occu­pan­cy hotel­ing suites can piv­ot into a four-per­son meet­ing room with the swiv­el of a mon­i­tor, and com­mon area seat­ing turns into pre-meet­ing hud­dles and places to enjoy lunch with col­leagues. Two adja­cent con­fer­ence rooms now include dou­ble doors on a shared wall that can be opened to cre­ate one large gath­er­ing space – mean­ing the whole team can once again gath­er in one space for all-staff meetings.

Ear­ly in the process, we also engaged with the Min­neso­ta Neu­ro­di­ver­gent Edu­ca­tion Advo­ca­cy and Ther­a­py Ser­vices (MnNEAT) to con­duct an audit of the space and review ini­tial plans with all needs in mind. We includ­ed their invalu­able ideas and rec­om­men­da­tions in fur­ther plan­ning as much as possible.

And with sus­tain­abil­i­ty top of mind, we were able to keep and repur­pose 80 per­cent of the office’s exist­ing fur­nish­ings in the design refresh. Of the 20 per­cent that we said farewell to, 100 per­cent of those fur­nish­ings were re-homed or donat­ed to Twin Cities Habi­tat for Human­i­ty ReStore – keep­ing them in use and out of a land­fill. New fur­nish­ings were pur­chased with sus­tain­abil­i­ty best prac­tices in mind and from the agency’s social­ly respon­si­ble pur­chas­ing guide when­ev­er possible.

Now that the team has set­tled into the new space and expe­ri­enced how hotel­ing works, how has the feed­back been from employ­ees and clients that are com­ing into the office?

We’ve had a real­ly great response from every­one! Peo­ple are real­ly enjoy­ing the bright, clean space, and are espe­cial­ly chuffed with the new Teams room con­fer­enc­ing tech­nol­o­gy; so much so that we are adding the tech­nol­o­gy to our oth­er con­fer­ence rooms. We’ve opened up a dia­logue with the team through an online form for feed­back, and will be address­ing any con­cerns or bril­liant ideas as they come up. Next up, we’ll be tack­ling our out­door patio area to make sure it receives the same spe­cial treat­ment that our inte­ri­or space has.

The team hosts a hybrid meeting with new technology

You’ve come to know our team pret­ty well through this process. Learn any­thing sur­pris­ing about how we work or the PR world in general? 

Com­par­ing my expe­ri­ence at Bell­mont Part­ners with oth­er agency work I’ve done, I can say how impressed I am with the ‘all-hands-on-deck’ men­tal­i­ty with­in the com­pa­ny. While every­one has their role and spe­cial­ty, there is absolute­ly no ego, and every­one jumps at the oppor­tu­ni­ty to help make great work for their clients. Also, it’s the high­est con­sump­tion of sparkling water I’ve seen…is there a PRSA award for that?

We’ll get start­ed on our award entry for “Most Hydrat­ed Agency Team.” In the mean­time, Andrew, thank you for tak­ing the time to chat and for your months of hard work to bring this vision to life!

For those read­ing, we’re excit­ed to wel­come vis­i­tors into our updat­ed space. Please drop us a line if you’d like to see the improve­ments first­hand and catch up over cof­fee (or sparkling water).

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