TalentArc: Hr Inspired Architecture

January 13, 2023 • wpengine

Authored by Tim Hawk, FAIA

Infusing Human Resource expertise, Organizational Behavior and Brand Marketing into the practice of Architecture to create spaces for how people work today – and tomorrow.

Your success depends on environments that work. But since the pandemic we are finding that what has worked is not necessarily what will work – now or in the future. Enter WSA’s talentArc process.

Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, it’s not only been where people work that’s changed – it’s been how. Workplace culture is different than it was in 2020. On top of that, as we see more people returning to offices and adopting hybrid styles of work, the amenities which enable productivity and foster the pursuit of employee passions are also changing. To make matters more interesting, we know that the workplace of 2022 no longer looks like that of 2019. But it might not look like that of 2025 either. So how do we create spaces that will work today, and tomorrow?


In our last post, we talked a little bit about how our multi-disciplinary team of experience designers bring a new approach to workplace design — talentArc. TalentArc is HR-infused architecture. It’s a process by which our architects and designers partner with client teams to learn about their organizational structure and culture.

By adding the criteria that results from partnership with client HR teams, we better understand the challenges they face. As we understand the behavior of organizations and the people who work within them, we can better plan for intentional collaboration and connection. And by embracing brand marketing and company culture – the X factor which makes a place special – we are able to bring that to life through the environment.

The talentArc process is all about creating a better understanding of what drives our partners’ organizational success and developing specific strategies to create impactful spaces. For us, talentArc stands as a testament to our belief that architecture and design is about more than form and function – it’s about people.

A Process in Practice

Ohio Mutual Insurance Group (OMIG) has been located in Bucyrus, Ohio since 1909. They moved to their current facility in 1969 and had not had major renovations since.

Through our renovation, we created an efficient workplace that enhances Ohio Mutual’s efforts to attract and retain top talent by providing modern amenities and a collaborative work environment. The entire campus has been reconfigured to maximize space efficiency and reinforce the Ohio Mutual brand.

Ohio Mutual Lobby

When OMIG set out to create a modern, branded evironment that maximizes efficiency to eliminate the need to invenst in additional real estate, we had the chance document the TalentArc process in practice.

This began by observing and recording how the existing space was utilized. After analyzing the data, we discovered that Ohio Mutual employees spent less than half of their work hours at their designated desks. Instead, employees gravitated towards collaborative meetings and group work. With this knowledge, the design team crafted a master plan that would allow Ohio Mutual to adopt new workstyles and abandon traditional assigned seating. The renovated building features a variety of workstations that support large group meetings, brainstorming, and casual collaboration, while reserving individual focus space on an as-needed basis. The design team also introduced modern amenities such as a café and fitness center to promote wellness and attract young professionals.

The Ohio Mutual headquarters was infused with a clean aesthetic and branded messaging that aligns with the organization’s culture and beliefs, reinforcing a sense of purpose for individuals and the greater institution.

Ohio Mutual Office

By carving out room for growth within the existing building, Ohio Mutual Insurance saved a significant amount of cash flow that would have been devoted to property expansions. Employees have expressed greater job satisfaction and improvements in company culture, because the space better supports the way they work.

A Workplace Crafted

On episode two of our podcast, WORKPLACE CRAFTED, members of the WSA team who worked on the OMIG project are joined by Ohio Mutual’s Chief Administrative Officer, Marcella Smith. In our conversation, we dive deeper into this specific implementation of the TalentArc process.

“Early on, in addition to getting to know the physical space, your team again wanted to dig deep into our guiding principals, and what is the culture like at Ohio Mutual Insurance Group, and the associates that work there, where are they coming in from? The majority live in the Bucyrus area, so it’s a real sense of family. You picked up on that very early on, and that found its way into the design.” – Marcella Smith, Chief Administrative Officer, Ohio Mutual Insurance Group

The talentArc process creates more engaging spaces for employees and a stronger bottom line for their organization. Listen to our podcast to hear about how sthe talentArc process gets put into practice.

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