By Ken Hager, COO
In August of 1969, our family moved to Holmdel and set up roots that went deep into our hearts and souls.
Our father, Sam Hager, had been working for JGS Insurance since 1962 (the same year Bell Labs was completed) and felt the time was right for a move. He had a growing family, and he wanted a small rural town to raise his family in. When we first moved here, it was definitely that. Shortly after moving into town, the chief of police personally stopped in to welcome us. I still remember driving past the distinctive “transistor water tower” lit up at night. As we approached the building, it looked to me as though a UFO had just landed, and Dad muttered, “What the heck is that?”Fast forward to 1993 when JGS left Middlesex County for Monmouth County and quite naturally ended up in Holmdel at 960 Holmdel Road. We remained there until August 2017 when we moved into the iconic building now known as Bell Works. That transistor water tower remains where it has always stood, at the entrance to Bell Works, and is the focal point of the breathless view from my office.
The Bell Works building itself is truly spectacular. It is a 2,000,000-square-foot, mirrored, glass-encased building with a cross-shaped atrium that spans over one hundred feet in width. It is actually four buildings connected by that atrium, two of which were completed in 1962 and then expanded twice (in 1966 and 1982) to its current size.
The building is set on over four hundred acres of a park-like setting, with two man-made lakes and a larger lake and bird sanctuary located on the other side of the building. Glass walls line the interior walkways allowing visitors a peek into all of the offices operating out of the building, including our very own office.
JGS worked closely with the architects and engineers at Mancini•Duffy to design a space that wasn’t your typical insurance agency office. We wanted a bright, open space that encouraged collaboration between teams and team members. This will help to assure that our clients benefit from the many services and opportunities available to them from JGS. In our old space, we found ourselves always looking for a place to have a quick huddle to discuss claims issues or the results of loss-control visits from our risk management department.
At our new space, we incorporated a number of different huddle rooms, conference rooms, and quick collaboration spaces to foster communication. We also added four “phone booth” rooms, small rooms that people can step into for making personal calls or a series of cold calls by our sales teams. We also have a state-of-the-art training center that can be configured into a classroom setting or a large, square-box-like setting. The main wall is “Winked” (as are all of our huddle rooms), which essentially makes the wall a large whiteboard.
The theme of Bell Works is “Work Inspired.” In keeping up with that theme, we surveyed our employees about some of the features they would want in our new work environment to inspire and motivate them. In trying to make our space up-to-date and “cool,” we asked our employees about stand-up desks and would this be something they could use or benefit from. Surprising to us, almost half of the employees requested stand-up desks, and we supplied them to those that asked. There is a nice mixture of stand-up or standard desks throughout the space that serves to break up the monotony of everything looking the same. Perhaps more surprising to us is the fact that almost everybody that has a stand-up is using it on a daily basis.
Some of what employees hoped for in a workplace is being provided by the building itself. For example, day care on the premises so that if an issue developed with a child, a quick visit may set both the parent’s and child’s mind at ease. Then there are things coming soon that didn’t even occur to our employees, such as dog care, a walk-in clinic, retail shopping, restaurants, and a huge gym open to the tenants.
The employees had been talking about starting a JGS “fun” committee to organize and develop fun things to do together. There is a ping-pong table located in the atrium, a foosball table in the café, the different restaurants and bars that will soon be located here, and a five-story rock-climbing wall to top it all off. There are plenty of fun activities to come get excited about, with more being announced quite frequently. There is a lot of buzz and excitement at our new space here at Bell Works. Stop in, say hello, and catch the buzz!