Ensuring Insurance Talent
Photos by Frederick Julius Photography
Who is MJ Insurance?
With over 50 years serving clients in the insurance industry, MJ stands above the rest, supporting a healthy work/life balance for employees. Their core values are to be passionate, inspiring, curious, determined, innovative, and fun. When it comes to serving their clients, talking the talk AND walking the walk is what they do best. MJ Insurance aims to make organizations better and smarter, showing up in a way that inspires the success of everyone they serve; their own families, associates, partners, and community included.
Why did MJ Engage DORIS?
In 2016, MJ Insurance engaged CBRE, a commercial real estate firm, when they were thinking of moving to a new space. CBRE partnered with DORIS to conduct research alongside CSO Architects to understand MJ’s challenges with their existing space.
DORIS researched how employees were using their existing space and how they wanted to work in the future. MJ wanted to know how they might leverage an updated space to attract and retain associates, so the firm could grow and thrive.
They sought to balance individual and collaborative work environments to inspire people to do their best work. Nurturing their culture is a cornerstone at MJ, so it was important to discover new ways to highlight this throughout the workplace.
DORIS engaged MJ over the course of three years with three of the services DORIS offers. This case study focuses on the Research project conducted in 2015 and briefly highlights Readiness and Reflection in the next steps section.
Methods of Engagement
Continuous Hours of Usability Study
MJ’s Challenges & Solutions
During MJ Insurance’s Research project, DORIS identified and solved for 8 workplace challenges that they faced in 2015. Here are 3 of their top challenges and their corresponding solutions. If these challenges sound familiar to you and your organization, drop us a line.
The layout of MJ’s office in 2015 consisted of an overwhelming amount of cubicles placed throughout the center of the workplace, making the space hard to navigate, especially when trying to find coworkers. Overall, the layout did not make sense for how people realistically used various spaces. The most utilized areas were located around the perimeter of the floor, which was not conveniently located near most peoples’ desks.
The layout of MJ’s new space makes much better use of the space by locating spaces based on how people use them. For example, DORIS recommended they move most offices and meeting areas (anything with walls) away from the outer edge and into the center of the building. Glass walls help with visibility throughout the workplace and makes the office less confusing to navigate in terms of wayfinding. People really loved anything with glass on it during Idea Generating and Prototyping, and in their new space there’s a lot of it. This also gets rid of the previously cramped look by letting in natural light.
At MJ, most folks said they didn’t have enough spaces in which to collaborate or meet. What’s happening beneath the surface here, though? From all our years doing usability studies in workplaces around the U.S., DORIS has found it’s often an issue of people using the wrong sized room for their meeting. The challenge does not generally lie with having a lack of rooms or spaces to go to. Similarly, meeting rooms at MJ weren’t used to their full capacity. If larger spaces aren’t used by as many people as can fit in them, why waste all that real estate?
MJ decided to have a wide variety of spaces at different sizes to meet or collaborate in. They needed enclosed rooms to fit 1-2 people, 3-5 people, and 6-10 people. Not only did they design for a variety of sizes, they made rooms for different purposes. Some of their new meeting rooms can be used more formally, while others are better for informal collaborations. People also stressed that up-to-date technology and whiteboard space was key to making each of these spaces function effectively, so MJ included that as well. Building on the need for more informal collaboration, throughout the space there are several soft seating areas where people can touchdown near workstations for a quick chat.
People at MJ felt uninspired by the aesthetic of their space. It looked like the prototypical 90’s office (tube T.V. included!) despite it being 2015. It was aggressively neutral in color palette with oversized cubes, and old-fashioned wooden furniture in private offices and meeting rooms. There wasn’t a sense of pride or place in the design that was identifiable with MJ’s brand nor culture, which is upbeat, synergetic, and forward-thinking.
One of the most obvious changes MJ made with their new space was the gorgeous look of it. Everything is modern and updated, with blue and grey backdrops accented with cheerful pops of yellow. Employees have a huge source of pride in the branding that’s highlighted all over the workplace. Can you spot the plus signs? They’re part of the MJ brand and the architecture firm, CSO, did a fabulous job of incorporating them in fun and surprising ways. Not to mention, the giant plant wall in the lobby which isn’t to be missed!
After finishing up their research project in 2016, MJ realized they couldn’t get enough of DORIS and decided to engage them for additional services, which included Readiness and Reflection. During Readiness, DORIS supports organizations throughout the transition period between old and new space. Specifically, MJ wanted help with interpersonal skill development to collaborate and appropriately address the different opinions held around space use. They created a company-wide credo to support these changes.
And that wasn’t all! In 2019, about a year after MJ Insurance had moved into their new space, they wanted to evaluate how it was working for everyone. They engaged DORIS in a Reflection project to learn how the implemented solutions from the 2016 Research project were functioning and whether they were living up to peoples’ expectations. With this project, MJ was asking, “Did the solutions really solve the challenges that needed to be addressed with their previous space? And very importantly, were there any new challenges arising that they didn’t experience before?”
The proof is in the (pie chart) pudding
Through their Reflection project, MJ learned that 82% of employees felt the new space was far improved over the old one. People greatly appreciate the flexibility and freedom to choose their own environment. They feel that their workplace now fosters collaboration through the different work areas and the openness. They also overwhelmingly approve of the look and feel of the space.