Position Available: Internet Sales Consultant

Our BRAND NEW, STATE-OF-THE-ART facility is complete, and now we need YOU to be a part of our growth and success!

BMW/Volkswagen of Topeka, a high-end, luxury automotive dealership in the Topeka area, is looking for the perfect person to join our team as an Internet Sales Consultant.

This person must come with great enthusiasm, willingness to learn, and a passion for helping customers in a fast-paced environment.Previous dealership experience is preferred but not required.

Job Responsibilities Include:

  • Responding to inbound requests from our online marketing.
  • Setting appointments and coordinating with sales managers.
  • Following up with unsold opportunities.
  • Managing online pricing, comments, and marketing support.

Applicants should have the following skills:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Well organized and self-directed.
  • Positive attitude and enthusiasm.
  • Sales / Automotive experience preferred but not required.

In addition to competitive pay, we offer our associates the following benefits:

  • Health, Dental, Vision, Life, and Disability insurance
  • 401(k) plan with company match
  • Paid Time-off
  • Employee Vehicle Purchase Program
  • Professional Live and Web Based Training
  • Closed Sundays
  • Paid 10 days of vacation after just the first year
  • Closed for most major holidays
  • Opportunities for advancement

Applicants should apply online to www.SoaveAutomotiveGroup.com/Careers and list Kris Nielsen as the hiring manager. Soave Automotive is an EEO and all applicants must pass a background check and drug screening.

Base pay: $24K/ year plus commission

The Pursuit of Pasta

words by EMILY & STEWART LANE  | photos by ANNA PETROW

Emily Lane: Chef Michael Smith appears to have it all. He’s a James Beard awardwinning chef and has multiple restaurants in Kansas City with a fiercely loyal base of patrons. But he’s given us another reason to clamor for his food, this time surrounding us with the rich, warm flavors of Italy at his newest concept, Farina. He and his wife, Nancy, were inspired by their love of all things Italian – the pastas, the cured meats, the cheeses, and the wines – and decided it was time to share those tastes with us.

Stewart Lane: Think about a plate of homemade pasta. To the untrained eye, there is nothing easier than pasta. It’s fast, only a few ingredients, and you can cover it in any sauce and call it a meal. However, nothing could be further from the truth when you delve deeper into making the perfect noodle. Then matching the proper sauce to the noodle can take on an art like a fine sommelier. Farina speaks to the soul of Italian traditions but with a distinctly “Michael Smith” slant that paints with an entirely new set of colors on a very old canvas.

EL: Farina has made its home in the space that was formerly Kemper at the Crossroads (a branch of the Kemper Museum) but those who miss the art space can take comfort in the stunning art that has been selected for the walls of Farina. Large abstract paintings, by Robert Quackenbush, line the walls where seating vignettes are created with soft banquettes and dark wood accents. If you’re feeling more social, you can snag a seat at the oyster bar and watch the swift hands of the staff preparing plates of fresh raw seafood. Or cozy up the cocktail bar and have Berto Santoro create one of his innovative drinks for you to imbibe. No matter what you choose, you’ll be well cared for during your meal.

SL: The oyster bar is one of my favorite parts of Farina; seeing the fresh oysters on display or catching a glimpse of the preparation of the Osetra caviar dish is a gratifying experience. Chef Smith plays with complex, savory flavors of raw fish to create dishes with lingering tastes melding on your tongue. Some of the dishes we enjoyed were the Madai snapper, with celery, radish, and miso-aji amarillo vinaigrette, and Ahi tuna, with orange, cucumber, crispy onions, and ginger tahini sauce, both beautifully enhancing the delicate fish.

EL: Not unlike Michael Smith’s other nearby restaurant, Extra Virgin, there are many ways to make your way around the Farina menu. As always, we find it’s best to order a wide variety of things and share. There are small-plate options, salads, pastas aplenty, and main proteins, all worthy of their own article in this publication, not to mention the massive wine list, which is well curated by Nancy.

SL: From the antipasti, we enjoyed the grilled octopus with farinata (garbanzo flour croutons) and Sicilian date relish. A triumph of intense char-and-grill flavor with the tender octopus complemented the bright vinegar bite and sweetness of the relish. A musthave snack was the cacio e pepe fritelle, somehow encompassing the flavors of a bowl of pasta into a crispy-fried morsel dusted with Parmesan.

EL: Chef Smith presents two different sides of pasta with his Farina menu; the classics, aptly named the “Four Kings of Rome,” and his Pasta Atipica, or atypical. This is not the night to watch your carbs, because you’d be remiss not to try something from both pasta menus.

SL: The “Four Kings of Rome” are menu staples, and for good reason. There’s rigatoni all’amatriciana, with preserved tomatoes, red onion, pepper flakes and guanciale; tender long tubes of bucatini coated in egg, Parmesan, and pancetta for the carbonara; a simply elegant and peppery spaghetti for the cacio e pepe; and the classic tagliatelle, with a beef and pork Bolognese. These traditional pastas only have a few components that demand the highest quality ingredients paired with flawless execution.

And then there are the Pasta Atipica, the dishes unique to the vision of Farina. The caramelle pasta features little packets stuffed with crescenza cheese and finished in a savory Marsala mushroom sauce. Jetblack noodles with the briny flavor of the sea in the squid-ink spaghetti with swordfish are heightened by sweet, sun-dried yellow tomatoes, saffron, and Calabrian chiles. This is pasta in a way you’ve probably never experienced.

EL: The “Secondi” portion of the menu features entrees such as pork roast, aged ribeye steaks, veal scallopini, and Alaskan halibut. Chef Smith keeps the menu changing with the seasons, and you’re sure to find the perfect protein with artfully chosen accompaniments.

So when you’re seeking the well-educated combination of what is comfortable and what will make you curious, Farina has the answer. With welleducated staff, a warm and inviting atmosphere, and a respected chef who is living out his culinary dream, Farina will welcome you and care for you, time and time again.

Farina is located at 19 W. 19th St. in Kansas City and is open Tuesday through Saturday beginning at 5:00 p.m. Reservations recommended. farinakc.com

Fighting Back

by KELSEY CIPOLLA  | photos courtesy of THE ALI KEMP FOUNDATION

Seventeen years after Ali Kemp was murdered, her legacy lives on through the The Ali Kemp Education (T.A.K.E.) Foundation that her parents, Roger and Kathy Kemp, founded in her honor.

Nineteen-year-old Ali was home from her first year of college at Kansas State University and working as a lifeguard at her neighborhood swimming pool in Johnson County when she was attacked and killed in 2002.

“Two weeks after that, her mother and I wanted to do a self-defense class for women and young girls, because we didn’t want it to happen to someone else,” Roger says. “We didn’t have a clue how to do it, but we were surrounded by wonderful people.”

Roger and Kathy met with various stakeholders in the community. Eventually, they were connected to Jill Leiker, the corporate and community wellness manager for Johnson County Park and Recreation District and a ninth-degree black belt.

Roger was halfway through telling Leiker Ali’s story when she stopped him and asked how she could help. Now the T.A.K.E. Foundation’s executive director, Leiker took four months developing the self-defense program. After launching a pilot program in 2004, the classes, dubbed T.A.K.E. Defense, debuted in 2005 and have been available to girls and women in the Kansas City community and on college campuses around the country ever since.

Leiker realized the program needed to be focused on information participants could immediately walk away with and apply. The curriculum draws from the basic concepts of personal protection Leiker learned from her martial arts experience but is largely education based. Participants go over the ABCs – awareness, boundary setting, and combat – with an emphasis on the first two principles. Instructors bring attention to the importance of increasing your awareness in everyday situations and encourage participants to examine how close somebody is and why that person is that close, teaching women how to create distance and speak to people who are overstepping boundaries.

“We’re not about being afraid, scared, or paranoid, but we want people to be aware,” Roger explains. “I firmly believe the world is 99.9 percent good, but we want people to be aware there are some people out there that don’t care.”

In T.A.K.E. Defense’s 15 years, more than 68,000 people have gone through the program, ranging from 12-year-old girls to women in their 90s. Although a small donation is suggested for attending the class, it’s never required.

“Roger and I never want to be in a place where somebody would like to do the class but can’t afford to even make a dollar donation – quite frankly those are the ones, potentially, that need it the most,” Leiker says. “We never want to deny anybody this education.”

Universities will often work to raise money to bring T.A.K.E. Defense to their campus, but the foundation’s biggest fundraiser is its annual T.A.K.E. Golf Classic, happening this year on Sept. 12 at Adam’s Pointe Golf Course in Blue Springs.

Funds raised go toward continuing to provide the self-defense training, which has saved lives over the course of the 15-year program. Roger finds the organization’s impact humbling, he says.

That T.A.K.E. Defense continues to attract so many participants is a testament to Ali’s story, according to Leiker.

“When people look at her, she could be anybody’s daughter,” she explains. “She could be your neighbor; she could be your niece; she could be your granddaughter.”

She could even be you. Both Roger and Leiker say the biggest barrier they face is emphasizing to people that what happened to Ali could truly happen to anyone.

“This is my hardest job,” Leiker explains. “People always think that this is never going to happen to them. It’s always somebody else, right? That’s not going to happen to me. That happens in somebody else’s neighborhood, in somebody else’s community, to somebody else’s kids.”

T.A.K.E. Defense challenges people to think about the places they go and answer a simple question: What would you do if you were attacked right here and now?

“We just don’t want this to happen to another little girl out there,” Roger says.

To register for an upcoming class or the T.A.K.E. Golf Classic, or to learn more about T.A.K.E. Defense, visit takedefense.org.

Hidden But Heard

by Stacy Downs

No doubt you’re familiar with the old-fashioned saying about children: “…they’re best seen but not heard.” But when it comes to new display devices and sound systems, the opposite is true – and cranked up to 11.

“While speakers and televisions provide lots of desired function, we try to keep the tech stuff as discreet as possible for the aesthetics and overall feeling of the room,” says interior designer Sara Noble, owner of Noble Designs in Leawood.

Indeed. There’s definitely a bet-ya-can’t-see-it element to most interior designers’ portfolios these days for all things AV. Minimalism is the maxim for music and movies.

Now there are options to install speakers behind walls that aren’t even visible. Televisions can be concealed in furniture.

“We worked on a home that has the kitchen TV come out of the counter,” Noble says.

To her and other interior designers, it’s important to collaborate with audio-visual designers from the get go. They help guide the wiring and planning that are often needed before the drywall even goes up.

“Making these decisions early and incorporating them into our designs is crucial,” Noble says. “Because the worst thing we could do is design a beautiful theater room that doesn’t have the proper sound or picture.”

EVOLUTION

Noble is working on several projects with Brian Hoyer of In-Tone, an integrative media and music systems company. Hoyer and his wife, Laura, routinely team up with architects and designers.

“When you work together, you can shape rooms into special places for the homeowners,” Hoyer says. “With subtle touches, you can create symmetrical placements of windows and fireplaces seamlessly with televisions and sound.”

Hoyer, who grew up wanting to be an architect, started working with AV as a hobby in high school. He always focused on design details. As demand for his AV work grew, he made it is his living.

In his decades-long career, the evolution of listening to music and watching movies at home has been staggering.

1980s: Turntables, cassettes, boxy televisions, big speakers, VCRs. No integration.

1990s and 2000s: CDs, big-screen televisions, surround sound, DVD players, lots of remotes. Some integration.

2010s: Phones as music storage, flat-panel televisions, hidden speakers, voice-activated controls. Total integration.

“Never before have people’s music and film collections been larger,” Hoyer says. “And it all can fit in their pockets.”

While Hoyer and the rest of us have seen this huge tech shift in our lifetime, his guiding principle of integrating media into the home has remained the same.

Keep it simple. Eliminate all complexities.

“If it’s not easy for people, they won’t use it,” he says. “And that defeats the whole purpose.”

No Wo/man is an Island

by Jennifer Lapka / photo courtesy of Porter Teleo

Porter Teleo co-founders Kelly Porter and Bridgett Cochran have created a flourishing, international business. Wallcoverings, chairs, rugs, and window shades adorned with their patterns have been incorporated into interior design projects by Middle Eastern sheiks, celebrities like Gwen Stefani and Cameron Diaz, and high-profile interior designers like Kelly Wearstler and Robert Couturier.

Their new headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri’s East Crossroads neighborhood is airy, organized, and bustling with activity. Kelly and Bridgett greet me at the door with smiles and whisk me to their board table. I had previously known Kelly and her paintings through her gallery representation at Blue Gallery. It was exciting to learn about this side of her life and meet her business partner, interior designer Bridgett Cochran. Together, they have developed an art-focused company that has at least doubled in revenue nearly every year and outgrown two leased spaces before commanding this 10,000-square-foot building they purchased and renovated. It now employs 10 full-time staff members and is represented by showrooms in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Toronto.

What has contributed to this growth? At the core of the business is the very tight bond between the two founders. They are equals; they are team players. In fact, in coming to the business, they identified each of their natural skill sets and consciously worked to improve their weaknesses; that way, each leader is fully capable of being the umbrella over the whole operation if the other is called away for periods of time due to life events. Additionally, they compound their strengths by methodically surrounding themselves with excellent, loyal employees. Their employees generally start with Porter Teleo as interns – mostly identified through the Kansas City Art Institute – and they all have a fine art background.

Aside from the people of Porter Teleo, Kelly and Bridgett have made smart decisions about whom they partner with, which has allowed their business to grow exponentially in the last four years. They started their business by providing their clientele with bespoke wallcoverings that they hand paint. They have added to their business model by licensing their artwork to much bigger companies working with mills and factories to put Porter Teleo onto rugs, window shades, outdoor fabric, interior fabric, hospitality fabric, and more. In particular, they are in licensing deals with Perennials Fabrics, F. Schumacher, Valley Forge Fabrics, and Élitis Luxury Wallpaper. “We choose our partners based on their quality of craft and diversity of uses,” said Cochran. “They can harness other mediums we can’t explore here, which complement our core line,” added Porter.

Throughout our interview, I exclaimed, “Congratulations!” often as they humbly described the milestones they have achieved. Their goals for the next 12 months include putting the finishing touches on their new headquarters at 1706 Holmes and start leasing out their new photo studio to others in the community who need it. They will hire at least two executive-level staff to oversee day-to-day operations and national sales. They will be adding to their F. Schumacher line, revisiting a list of six other companies that have approached them about licensing, and developing a tile line. Come January 2020, they will be represented at the heralded Parisian MAISON&OBJET, a professional trade fair dedicated to lifestyle, decoration, and design. For more information about Porter Teleo, please visit their website, porterteleo.com.

Kansas City Takes to the Seas

by Patricia O’Dell / photo by Getty Images

While Kansas City is considered the very heart of the heartland, there is an effort underway that intrinsically connects our town to the open sea. Private citizens from a variety of backgrounds have been working in conjunction with the U.S. Navy to commission the USS Kansas City. It will be the second ship to carry this name and the spirit of our town across seas worldwide Creating this partnership with the United States Navy is the top priority for the volunteers supporting this effort.

“This will be an accomplishment of Greater Kansas City,” says Ward Cook, executive director of the commissioning committee. “Not Kansas City, Missouri. Not Kansas City, Kansas. All of Kansas City. Together.”

This sense of solidarity and community runs deep through this project. The USS Kansas City was recently christened in Mobile, Alabama, where she was built by Austral USA. Now, a group of Kansas Citians have come together to volunteer to serve on a commissioning committee to raise community and financial support in order to enhance the experience for the young men and women who will serve on board.

The new USS Kansas City will be a state-of-the-art Littoral Combat Ship deployed by the U.S. Navy to keep shipping lanes open to guarantee free trade, deter aggression and keep our shores safe, and to participate in wars, when necessary.

“The naming of a ship is significant,” says Cook. “We hope this will build an enduring relationship between the men and women serving on the ship with Kansas City. In addition, we hope the commission will support the sailors in many ways.”

Once the ship is commissioned, it will be a full-fledged fighting vessel that could be deployed as soon as the next day. The Navy will supply the ship with what it needs to support its mission and basic amenities to support the sailors’ day-to-day lives, such as a television and basic exercise equipment, which is essential, but also recreational.

“The ship is the sailors’ home,” Cook says. “They are running most of the day, but in their few hours of downtime, it’s very important for their well-being to be able to relax. It’s up to the committee to provide support – additional exercise equipment, TVs, stereos – maybe even barbecue to change up the regular meal schedule.” Cook notes that this builds morale and camaraderie.

No one understands the need for this more than fellow committee member RADM Jeffrey Penfield, chairman of the commissioning committee. Penfield served in the U.S. Navy for 34 years and worked with Cook on the commissioning of the USS Wichita. He did not hesitate to get involved.

“I wanted to continue giving back. Serving doesn’t stop,” Penfield says. “I was happy to chair the commissioning of the USS Wichita, and I have a desire to keep serving the men and women who are on our ships.”

He notes that life in the Navy is not all work.

“There is off-time,” he says. “Our Navy is focused and concerned about taking care of our sailors. They have the basics covered, but we can really improve the quality of life on board with AV equipment and other needs. We helped provide the USS Wichita with a barber chair. It’s this kind of cooperation that builds a relationship between us and the ship.”

Penfield is encouraged by the Kansas City community’s response. He feels there is a strong appreciation for the sailors in the fleet and that volunteers are eager to support the men and women who will be on board.

“I joined the Navy for the adventure,” Penfield says. “But I stayed for so long because I felt part of something. I felt as if I served with the best and the brightest. No other job can match that.”

It is the same conviction that drew him to be involved in the USS Kansas City commissioning.

“Not every city gets this honor,” Penfield says. “This is a great opportunity for all of Kansas City to support the men and women on this ship. The crew will have the opportunity to come to Kansas City and be recognized for their service. This ship is specifically designed to protect our security and free trade. It’s an honor to recognize the significance and service of these sailors.”

For more information on the USS Kansas City, its commissioning and commissioning ceremony, or to support the committee’s effort through volunteering or contribution, please visit usskansascity.org.

An Easy Self-Analysis Question: Are You an Introvert? Extrovert? Ambivert?

-by Dr Linda Moore

If you are like many, even most of us, you wonder about yourself once in a while – your personality, thoughts, feelings, your mild or even extreme challenges in managing life and work and relationships.

There are dozens of methods for “self-exploration” of your emotional/psychological makeup and one of the most basic and useful is to understand, even test, your level of introversion and extroversion. And in recent years, researchers added a category of analysis called “ambivert” – an individual who falls in the middle of the introversion/ extroversion scale – giving you three options for who you “might be.”

To start your “self-analysis,” consider this question: How do you recharge? At the end of a long day, do you choose or even need to be by yourself or with only one or two others, or do you prefer a group, an activity, something to do? The way we re-ignite our energy is the bottom line, or most simple quick self-assessment, for looking at this personality question. Introverts need solitude/quiet/opportunities to rest and reflect. Extroverts need interaction/conversation/ connection/activity.

If you find your answer puts you somewhere in the middle, you might be an “ambivert.” Sometimes they like quiet, sometimes they like activity, sometimes they like a mix.

Perhaps a bigger question is what difference does any of that actually make? It typically makes a difference, or feels particularly important in those occasional moments when your feelings, reactions, and choices about how you handle life raise questions in your mind…. for example, “What made that so hard for me to handle?” or “What makes this relationship issue so hard to resolve?” or “Why can’t I figure this out?” Or maybe even, “What’s wrong with me?”

And more of us, perhaps more than we realize, ask such questions. I encounter the inquiries in both my consulting with organizations and in my private practice with individuals and couples. We DO wonder from time to time what makes us tick.

One basic fact: Extroverts dominate the population. An estimate from all the years of measuring E/I suggests that extroverts make up close to 75 percent of the population. That reality can make some Introverts feel extremely different from the majority of people they interact with – and, in fact, it helps to know they are different. The challenge is not to suggest different isn’t okay or in any way unhealthy. The more we understand the characteristics, attitudes, and behaviors of our “own type,” the more we understand how to “navigate the differences.” And perhaps not so surprising, we often end up in both personal and work relationships with people who differ from us on E/I measurements. We are drawn to those who are different, who function in ways we don’t. Many couples experience the E/I difference in their relationships and simple understanding coupled with good negotiating skills can make many conflicts more manageable.

The historical research also suggests that more of us than we realize fall in “the middle” – consequently the more recent label of “ambivert.” Some experts conclude that perhaps two-thirds of the population are ambiverts; while others say they make up less than 20 percent of the population . . . and I’d add that those who identify as ambivert have “a leaning” in one direction or another on the E/I scale.

The best test for measurement is the Myers/Briggs Inventory. And cost free versions of that inventory can be found online and in an accessible book identified below. Clearly, I’m suggesting starting with some actual data and then discussing your results with a significant other, colleagues, or friends. With scores in hand, asking for feedback is the best approach. And unlike taking “tests” that many of us like to avoid, these are actually fun as well as satisfying, self-revealing, and useful!

Consider this example: In a challenging conversation with a significant other about how to spend the weekend that leads to tension, it’s easy to conclude the “other” is being stubborn or difficult – even selfish. If you do discover you have some fairly big differences on the E/I scale, the reality is more basic: one of you might need more of a quiet weekend, while the other might want more activity – with numerous plans. If you slowly study the differences in your basic makeup, negotiation becomes far more plausible because you substitute “differences” in your conclusions and assumptions for “why are you always so difficult to please?”

And in a work setting, an introvert sometimes needs more time to reflect before making a decision, while an extrovert is often pretty quick with a choice to move on. So, again, rather than impatience and annoyance with one another, you acknowledge the difference in “approach” in the way you think things through, instead of deciding the “other” is just being an obstreperous pain.

A final question: Do you intuitively “know” if you are an introvert or an extrovert? Or somewhere in between? Make some notes on what you think before taking an inventory. Additionally, you’ll see the inventory measures other factors as well: 1) are you more of an intuitive person or a sensing person? 2) do you rely more on thinking or on feeling? 3) and, finally, are you structured and organized or more spontaneous, sometimes making last-minute decisions? Remember, this information can actually be both fun and informative. And it might answer questions you sometimes ask yourself about important people in your life.

Position Available: Internet Sales Consultant

Our BRAND NEW, STATE-OF-THE-ART facility is complete, and now we need YOU to be a part of our growth and success!

BMW/Volkswagen of Topeka, a high-end, luxury automotive dealership in the Topeka area, is looking for the perfect person to join our team as an Internet Sales Consultant. This person must come with great enthusiasm, willingness to learn, and a passion for helping customers in a fast-paced environment.

Previous dealership experience is preferred but not required.

Job Responsibilities Include:

  • Responding to inbound requests from our online marketing.
  • Setting appointments and coordinating with sales managers.
  • Following up with unsold opportunities.
  • Managing online pricing, comments, and marketing support.

Applicants should have the following skills:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Well organized and self-directed.
  • Positive attitude and enthusiasm.
  • Sales / Automotive experience preferred but not required.

In addition to competitive pay, we offer our associates the following benefits:

  • Health, Dental, Vision, Life, and Disability insurance
  • 401(k) plan with company match
  • Paid Time-off
  • Employee Vehicle Purchase Program
  • Professional Live and Web Based Training
  • Closed Sundays
  • Paid 10 days of vacation after just the first year
  • Closed for most major holidays
  • Opportunities for advancement

Applicants should apply online to www.SoaveAutomotiveGroup.com/Careers and list Kris Nielsen as the hiring manager. Soave Automotive is an EEO and all applicants must pass a background check and drug screening.

Position Available:Service Technician

The service department is looking for qualified Service Technicians.

Full benefits including paid time off, 401k, health, dental, and vision insurance would be available upon completion of eligibility requirements.

Job responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Test drive vehicles to test components and systems
  • Ability to use diagnostic tools and special service equipment.
  • Diagnose, maintain, and repair vehicle systems including engine, transmission, electrical steering, suspension, brakes, air conditioning, etc.
  • Perform work specified on the repair order with efficiency and in accordance with dealership policies
  • Communicate directly with the Service Advisor so that customers can be informed if any additional service is needed

Apply at http://www.soaveautomotivegroup.com/careers

Tomorrow’s Offices: Inspired by Nature

by Kara Raasch / photos courtesy of HOK

Biophilic design, or the idea of connecting people to nature through thoughtfully designed environments, has proven to have an impact on the health, well-being, and productivity of staff. With the much-buzzed-about unveiling of Amazon’s Spheres, this drive to bring the outdoors in is shaping office environments across country and right here in Kansas City.

Biophilic design can range from including greenery and vegetation in the form of plants and living walls to including water features, natural wood elements, organic textures, and increasing light and access to fresh air.

Another bonus of biophilic design? It’s critical toward promoting a culture of productivity. Recent research published by the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied found the connection between biophilic design and the ability to increase productivity and reduce employees missing work, impacting an organization’s bottom line. They also noted that workspaces with ample light and nature elements resulted in occupants’ self-proclaimed sense of well-being improving by more than 40 percent. Another 2015 study commissioned by Oliver Health and titled “The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace” found that employees are 15 percent more productive when they work in a space with biophilic elements.

At American Century Investments’ Tower One, 6th-floor renovation, the company made the move from private offices to an airy and interconnected open office plan with biophilia and its benefits in mind. The renovation was designed to facilitate a cultural shift, increasing collaboration and flexibility for the investment management firm. To do so, the client and design team reconnected the interior space with nature in bold ways.

The reconfiguration of the floor allowed for an infusion of natural light, with sun penetrating to the center of the floor plate, while simultaneously increasing occupancy by 60 percent. A custom moss wall brings an organic element to the space, and represents the value the company places on work-life balance. Custom graphics are organic, reflecting the community and culture of the organization with micro and macro details derived from nature and the tree in the ACI brand mark. This subtle imagery reinforces connectivity throughout. The firm’s break room is filled with natural light, textures, and materials to create a healthy retreat for employees.

At Cargill Protein’s new headquarters in Wichita, biophilic design is incorporated and celebrated through plants and greenery throughout the expansive new space and vast access to natural light and outdoor spaces.

Are you wondering how you bring nature into your workplace and reap the rewards? There are some simple, cost-effective solutions that can begin to transform your personal or company’s office environment:

Plants – From potted plants to green walls, bringing in natural vegetation is a critical element for any space.

Graphics – Environmental graphics derived from nature can provide a connection point for people to the outdoors. These also have the benefit of creating aesthetically pleasing, layered environments that can incorporate pops of color and help with wayfinding within a space.

Water features – Simple water features can be cost-effective to add while bringing in the sights and sounds of nature.

Natural light – Reorienting your space to bring people closer to windows and natural light can have a dramatic impact on taking a space from drab and dreary to bright and airy.

The benefits of biohphilic design extend far beyond the aesthetic. Consider taking a note from American Century Investments’ book and incorporating natural elements to reduce stress, enhance connectedness, and increase productivity of any company’s most important asset – its people.