Staff from MCH Family Outreach in Houston are now settling into their renovated office space after construction was completed over the Christmas holiday. Their location recently incorporated a new design implemented to accommodate the growth of MCH Family Outreach programs.
The five-week renovation took place in sections of the office while staff shared spaces that were not under construction in order to maintain uninterrupted service to families. The office transitioned from separate offices to collaborative workspaces, a larger conference room and a secure entrance that includes remote locks, keypads and a reinforced door. Case managers, who spend the majority of their time in the field, now have workstations, and use “huddle rooms” as needed for private calls or visits with families. The Houston office also features a playroom for foster care visits.
“I think it is a great concept,” said Veronica Whalon-Peters, director of MCH Family Outreach in Houston. “Everyone is getting used to it and it is going well.”
“I like the flow of it,” said Nicole Washington, a Houston case manager. “I like that we are able to communicate with each other easily. So far it has been good.”
Whalon-Peters said they were able to donate several pieces of furniture to a school and daycare that was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. They also gave several pieces to a client they were serving, a single mom who was starting over and had no furniture.
MCH Family Outreach offices in Houston and Albuquerque are the latest locations to incorporate a similar new office design. The Dallas outreach office is scheduled to receive renovations next year. Becky James, case manager at MCH Family Outreach in Albuquerque admits the transition has had its challenges, but that is also provided opportunities to learn and grow professionally.
“I have enjoyed and benefitted from hearing or witnessing how other people work,” James said. “This could be anything from the way in which they relate or encourage their families, or how they talk to other service providers. I have gained a deeper understanding of other’s talents which gives me a better appreciation for my team. With that I have gained insight into new effective and creative ways of doing things – I just love that.”
Traci Wagner, program administrator for the Eastern region of MCH Family Outreach, said developing this new concept took a lot of thoughtful consideration. Many locations were locked into leases; however, their workforce continued to grow to meet the needs of their communities. MCH leadership consulted with commercial floorplan experts, space planners and like-minded organizations and learned that collaborative workspaces would be the most cost-efficient option, allowing for more resources to be designated to clients and programs, while also offering many benefits to an office environment.
“The open office can foster collaboration, promote shared learning, and nurture a strong culture,” Wagner said. “For us, it also allowed us to create consistency among our 13 locations.”
Wagner said they have been able to tailor the plans to match each location since adopting the collaborative workspace in 2014. The concept was piloted first in the Corpus Christi office, and as leases have expired or offices have needed to relocate, the new model has been incorporated in other locations.
MCH Family Outreach offers foster care (in some locations) and family preservation services through its community services program. Offices are located in 13 cities across Texas and New Mexico. To find a location near you, visit our website at MCH.org.