Improving Our Support for New Parents

We recently took a look at some of our benefits to see if there were improvements we could make in support of our efforts to grow Atomic in diversity and numbers. Having a diverse team makes Atomic better and stronger, and we want to grow the number of women we employ while continuing to make Atomic a welcoming and supportive place for all Atoms to thrive.

Coming out of that review, our top priority was to strengthen our overall parental leave policy. Read more on Improving Our Support for New Parents…

Where Does Atomic Thrive?

In 2001, Atomic Object came to life in a small, rented workspace in an old red brick building in Grand Rapids’ Eastown neighborhood. In 2003, when Atomic was still young and very small, we moved west on Wealthy Street to the red brick building we now call AOHQ. We’ve grown a lot since then, so it was smart of us to invest in a bigger house than we needed at the time. Turns out, the Uptown neighborhood suits us just fine.

In July 2012, we opened our Detroit office in another old, red brick building. And in September 2013, we hung the Atomic shingle out in Ann Arbor — in, you guessed it, a red brick building.

Atomic has chosen to locate our offices on the fringe of downtown in two larger Michigan cities (Grand Rapids and Detroit) and the center of a smaller scale city (Ann Arbor), where older, red brick commercial buildings are more likely to be the workplace options in stock. Read more on Where Does Atomic Thrive?…

Nature Matters – Insights on Biomimicry

Image courtesy GreenWizard.

Biomimicry, biophic design, nature-based design — these are all terms that describe how natural systems offer powerful models that influence the built world (including architecture, workplace design, and technology). It’s all about finding design inspiration from nature to solve human problems.

Here are some insights on biomimicry and the potential it holds for long term sustainability in architecture, workplace design and software development. Read more on Nature Matters – Insights on Biomimicry…

Space Matters – Workplace Design Insights

Space matters. And Atomic Object Grand Rapids is at the front end of an exciting workplace redesign to enable the activity in our old building.

Recently, my colleague Matt Fletcher pointed me to a great book: Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration by Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft. This book is a wealth of creative workplace design ideas and is organized around “Tools,” “Situations,” “Design Template,” “Space Studies,” and “Insights.”

Along with lots of nuts-and-bolts, DIY design ideas, the book offers excellent perspectives on some of the important lessons of workplace design. Here are the “Insights” that most resonated with me as I head into the redesign of AO Grand Rapids: Read more on Space Matters – Workplace Design Insights…

Three Cheers to the 2014 Local First Award Winners

Local First hosts its Local Motion awards at its annual meeting each January. These awards honor successful, sustainable local entrepreneurs and businesses in West Michigan.

Atomic Object has sponsored this event for the last three years, and we were the proud recipient of Local First’s Change Agent award in 2011.

Atoms Mary O’Neill and Terri Vruggink at the Local First Awards.
(Photo Credit – James Richard Fry –

The 2014 Local First award winners are an incredible group of entrepreneurs and agents of change within our community. They define sustainable local business. Thanks to Local First for sharing their descriptions of the awards and the award winners: Read more on Three Cheers to the 2014 Local First Award Winners…

An Introvert’s Perspective

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain is an interesting and well-researched book about introverts in an essentially extroverted world. By nature, I’m introverted (though consider myself a pretty well-adjusted ambivert) and found this book to be a breath of fresh air.

This book has been widely reviewed, and I want to share some of the range of perspectives on introversion’s value and challenges in our society.

Read more on An Introvert’s Perspective…

Delegation: The Challenges and the Opportunities

I’ve challenged myself to do some critical thinking about the skills associated with being an effective delegator. Done right, delegation can create a win-win situation by amplifying your own effectiveness and creating growth opportunities for the people who work with you. And my grandmother often said that the simple act of asking for help was a really good way to build friendships.

The last few years have been big growth years for Atomic Object. We’ve hung out our shingle in Detroit and Ann Arbor, and hired several new people. All along, the demand for our services has increased steadily, and with size comes increased business complexity. Correspondingly, my workload has grown a lot, and sometimes I (like most busy people) wish I could magically add more hours to the day and generate more personal energy to accomplish everything that needs to be done to keep the Atomic machine running smoothly.

The reality is I need some help. I need to delegate some of my work responsibilities to the talented people I’m lucky to work with. Naturally, I started doing some reading on the subject.

Read more on Delegation: The Challenges and the Opportunities…

For the Love of Math

My background is in workplace design and architecture, and my skills tend toward the visual, spatial, and intuitive. I haven’t always held a love of math, and I struggled with its abstractions in school. But I’ve always had this intuition about its beauty.

Like many people, I browse the news at breakfast, and one recent morning the article How to Fall in Love with Math caught my attention.  While I was sipping my coffee, I read the article from author and mathematician Manil Suri.  I was drawn in by his examples of math’s broad appeal and he prompted me to “contemplate the elegance of infinity” instead of obsessing about my to-do list. Read more on For the Love of Math…

The Structure of a Real Apology

As we humans share our lives with other humans, it’s unavoidable. We will occasionally hit those times (not too often, hopefully) when we mess up in some way, big or small, and we need to make it right with someone.

When we do insult, inconvenience, or otherwise hurt someone, the best path forward is to sincerely apologize — respond directly to the person we hurt, addressing the unique situation with empathy.

Making the Right Apology

Different mistakes call for different apologies. The apology for an unintended insult clearly needs to be expressed differently than the apology for causing a fender bender in traffic.

Read more on The Structure of a Real Apology…