Innovative Spaces: The Richards Group’s Stairwell is the Heart of a ‘Beehive of Activity’

Communication and collaboration is the cultural core of the Dallas-based company of creatives. “We don’t spread news—good or bad—through email,” the company says. “We meet in person. At the stairwell."

A version of this story was originally published in Dallas Innovates: The [Tech] Talent Issue.

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For company news, good or bad, forget the watercooler. The Dallas-based company of creatives that is The Richards Group has an out-of-the-box place to share ideas and the latest news—the stairwell.

Inside the company headquarters in the West Village area of Dallas, employees head to the stairs for big and small meetings, to exchange ideas, or to shoot the breeze. The multi-story open stairway dominates a large atrium-like space, running between desks on one side and tables on the other. 

The Richards Group is the largest independently owned advertising agency in the nation. Founder Stan Richards (and advertising legend) firmly believes that a building’s architecture enhances company culture, and that’s why the focal point of the agency gleams from the outside. During the day, the firm says the area is a beehive of activity where people gather on, around, and under it.

It’s also big enough for all 750 employees to gather, if necessary.

The building is designed to inspire those outside of it. The brightly lit exterior and interior with many windows make the building and much of the workspace a prominent feature at night to drivers on North Central Expressway and for miles around.

“We don’t spread news—good or bad—through email,” the company says. “We meet in person. At the stairwell. We all are able to gather there at a moment’s notice to welcome a new friend, an old friend, or celebrate a milestone—like a 20th anniversary of one of our own.”

But the stairway is just one of many features in The Richards Group office that emphasize open communication and the importance of each team member. Smaller meetings and one-on-one conversations also happen around the stairs, as team members are encouraged to meet face to face.

Architecture firm Perkins and Will designed The Richards Group’s 250,000 square-foot building, which opened in 2015. The 18 floors are largely open, reflecting a transparent work environment that communicates the value of each team member. The office areas intermingle employees with different jobs, helping remove barriers to creativity, like the idea of gatekeepers in a corporate hierarchy.

The Richards Group says it’s “a flat organization,” which means that team members don’t go by formal job titles. They celebrate years of service more than status positions. And employees respond by staying around for decades.

The amenity employees love the most tends to be the 18th-floor gym. The location is deliberate—it’s on the top floor, a spot usually reserved for top executives. But at The Richards Group, it belongs to employees. There’s state-of-the-art equipment, yoga and spin rooms, certified instructors, and views of Dallas. 

And, if anyone’s feeling that after-lunch slump, employees can grab a 20-minute power nap in one of four dedicated nap rooms, another favorite feature.

The building also features an 18th-floor gym, open architecture, and a brightly lit exterior and interior.

On the theme of rewarding company loyalty, the conference rooms in the building are named after employees with more than 25 years of service, whether you’re a support person in accounting or a principal landing high dollar client contracts.

“In an industry in which high turnover is the norm, we’re the exception,” the company says.

Whether its the gym, the stairway, or the conference rooms, the office space is built and furnished to foster communication and creative inspiration.

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Dallas Innovates: The [Tech] Talent Issue, a special edition of the Dallas Innovates Magazine, looks at how companies in Dallas-Fort Worth are attracting and retaining the best talent. Startups, corporates, nonprofits, and organizations work hard to create a strong culture, promote diversity, and implement training programs that can help achieve success.

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