From Weary Spaces to Wow-Worthy Offices

Open offices and adjacent supervisor private offices all receive daylighting in this intentional layout.
Photograph provided by Chad Renly: C|R Prints & Photography LLC

Although working from home has become the new norm, it doesn’t mean that working from the office has completely gone away. As the pandemic fog slowly starts to lift, companies are bringing employees back to the office to foster a sense of camaraderie and provide crucial in-person collaboration for teams.

Monona Bank, a local community bank founded in 1991 with nine locations in and around Dane County, recently refreshed and updated office spaces due to anticipated employee need in two of their bank locations: Middleton and Bridge Road in Monona.

Julie Redfern, Monona Bank’s EVP and chief operations officer, feels Monona Bank works hard to provide associates with workspaces that are both comfortable and functional. She says, “Our bank’s culture is based on collaboration and teamwork, so we have been updating our offices over the past several years to ensure associates have the space and tools they need [now], and will need in the future, to [work] effectively.”

Julie Redfern and her team turned to Middleton-based Sketchworks Architecture, who they worked with on their renovation at their Middleton location last year, to revamp their Bridge Road bank. Because Sketchworks’ team was familiar with Monona Bank’s needs, the partnership was a great fit. And with more than 80 percent of their associates working from home due to the pandemic, the bank was able to take advantage of the mostly empty floors to quickly complete the work with no impact on the bank’s employees.

The overall scope of the Bridge Road location included renovating the second and third floors of the building, which accommodates around 35 employees, including their corporate staff. “[Monona Bank was] looking to bring their corporate headquarters to the Bridge Road location and include more departments while also providing the best layouts for team coordination and collaboration,” explains Nick Badura, project manager with Sketchworks Architecture. “With having a new space, they wanted to bring modern workplace concepts that would benefit their staff, such as sit-to-stand workstations, a wellness/mother’s room, hot desking spaces, a coffee bar, collaboration spaces, and more conference rooms.”

It was also important that the renovation provided their offices a cohesive look that would match their other locations. “The office buildout was designed to be brighter, lighter, and to have pops of Monona Bank blue in functional elements, such as the acoustical ceiling clouds and accent paints in all of the private offices that are within view of the open office spaces,” says Michelle Schildgen, Sketchworks’ director of interior design and branding.

Michelle says the second floor underwent dramatic changes, including an entirely new layout in the center of the floor plan for private offices, while opening up some of the perimeter spaces to provide employees with natural light and views to the exterior. She’s a proponent of bringing the outdoors in, noting that natural light is soothing and beneficial for working conditions. “The building has so many great glazed walls and large windows that we were happy to enhance access to the natural light and views.”

Natural elements, such as red stained cherry wood, tie together the second and third floors in offices and woodwork throughout, and nods to the building’s Craftsman style even pop up in door designs throughout the building.

In addition to overall attractiveness and functionality, employees will enjoy their new improved spaces. On the second floor, LED lighting was replaced throughout, a coffee bar was added at the front desk, and hot desking options are available in two offices, accommodating future hires as well as employees stopping in from other Monona Bank locations to work on site.

Nick and Michelle both say that the employee response has been enthusiastic, noting that staff say the space feels more connected and that the design details, such as a stunning wood wall that wraps the core offices, is visually appealing. And as a project manager and interior designer, that is always the goal—to hear that your client is loving their new space for its intended use and that it’s even better than it was before.

“The overall look is modern, sleek and classy,” says Michelle.

Sketchworks Architecture is a local architectural and interior design firm specializing in living, working, and entertaining environments. Our award-winning portfolio spans corporate, hospitality + retail, multifamily, government, and brewery + distillery projects.

Photographs provided by Chad Renly: C|R Prints & Photography LLC.

Sketchworks Architecture
7780 Elmwood Avenue
Suite #208
Middleton, WI 53562