news.cuna.org/articles/121208-constructing-a-modern-workplace
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An artist rendering of the first-floor branch at Hawaii State Federal Credit Union's new headquarters.

Constructing a modern workplace

Hawaii State Federal Credit Union infuses health and wellness into new headquarters.

July 12, 2022

Hawaii State Federal Credit Union in Honolulu wants to bring its employees under one roof. The $2.2 billion asset credit union is on the verge of doing so, constructing a new headquarters that takes health, wellness, and the coronavirus pandemic into account while providing a modern space for 250 staffers.

The 70,000-square-foot, 10-story office building, which will include a first-floor branch, and corresponding 80,000 square-foot parking garage is under renovation and scheduled to open this fall.

Hawaii State Federal has more than doubled in assets and employees over the past 10 years, says President/CEO Andrew Rosen. “We're currently in a headquarters building the credit union built 40 years ago and it's bursting at the seams. We've outgrown the space and have people in different office spaces around town. 

“The goal is to bring everyone together into one headquarters building,” he continues. “We will have some operational efficiency because of that, but it's more about bringing people into one space to foster collaboration and innovation.”

While the renovation process began in July 2021, the path toward a new headquarters started about five years ago. The planning process included several options, including tearing down the existing headquarters and building from the ground up. 

But with high construction costs, the most cost-effective option was to buy and renovate an existing building.

The credit union purchased the former Melim Building in July 2020. The pandemic caused challenges, including virtual meetings between the design team and general contractor. 

Supply chain issues also delayed the process by several months, as the pandemic added to the usual challenge of getting materials to Hawaii. 

“But COVID also made us rethink what it means to work in an office space,” Rosen says. “At the beginning, when our employees were working remotely, we even questioned if we needed a new headquarters.”

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Ultimately, leadership decided working together fosters collaboration, mentorship, learning, and innovation. The question became, what does bringing people to the office look like in the modern workplace? 

Based on lessons learned during the pandemic, the designers prioritized health and wellness. 

That requires space, and the credit union decided to spread out and occupy all 10 stories of the building. Workstation seating options will be centered around six-foot furniture modules to allow for proper social distancing in an office that will start with 250 employees but have room to grow.

“We're giving employees a lot more space,” Rosen says. “The building gives people the choice of how and where they want to work, whether they want to be seated at a desk next to their peers or in an open collaboration area. The new building will have a lot of training rooms, conference rooms, and open spaces where people can meet. And if they need to, they can be socially distant.”

Every floor will include a “CALM Zone,” which stands for cleanse, arrive, awaken, lounge, and meet. As employees exit the elevator, the wellness space includes a water feature, a place to wash hands, and a lounge area where people can get coffee or water, relax, and take a breath before working.

‘The building gives people the choice of how and where they want to work.’
Andrew Rosen

The headquarters will also feature eight employee working floors, a kitchen, a breakroom, a rooftop gathering space, a modern fitness center, privacy rooms for nursing mothers, 10- and 12-foot-high ceilings, and a simulated test branch for training purposes. 

A state-of-the-art HVAC system, which will provide at least 30% more conditioned outside air than required by code, will clean the air and minimize viruses. 

Each design decision is intended to create a safe, welcoming place for employees to return to the office. While the credit union has encouraged fully vaccinated employees to do so, some have been working from home since 2020. 

The goal is that the new headquarters will encourage them to return.

While employees’ health and safety are top priorities for Hawaii State Federal, so is collaboration, Rosen says. “Bringing people together in one place is important for our culture. It’s important for people to learn and grow in their careers, and it fosters collaboration and innovation.

“We want to create an office where people want to work every day,” he adds. “It's a priority for us to make sure we're creating a healthy, safe place where our employees feel safe—a place where they want to work.”