First there was “The Great Resignation.”

Then came “Quiet Quitting.”

Ever since COVID-19 forced companies and employees to reevaluate what an office means, work-life balance seems to be the most popular topic at the watercooler (for those of us who still gather around an actual watercooler). What does a healthy balance look like? The answer, it’s emerging, depends on the employee.

We asked the 17 companies listed in Bethesda Magazine’s 2022 Top Places to Work what sets them apart. Earning the top spot this year is Anthony Wilder Design/Build, a full-service custom architecture, construction and interior design firm located in a converted historic firehouse in Cabin John.

Anthony Wilder Design/Build’s vision statement—Inspiring Everyone to Build Their Dreams—applies not only to its swoonworthy construction projects. It applies to every employee as well, according to company President Elizabeth Wilder, who runs the business with husband and founder Anthony Wilder.

Although she still prefers in-person collaboration with team members, Elizabeth Wilder says she has learned that people can work effectively from home. Several employees work fully remote or on a mutually agreeable hybrid schedule. “You don’t want to lose a talented team member. If there’s a way to make it work, a good employer will find a way to keep that employee,” Wilder says.

During the pandemic shutdowns, local government deemed residential construction an essential service, with people in the trades, such as carpenters, simply unable to work remotely. “We shared an enormous sense of pride and connectedness, knowing our people in the field were risking their lives to go out to do their jobs,” Wilder says. “Every person on our team committed themselves to supporting those workers.” It was early in the pandemic that the company developed its North Star statement: Save Lives First; Save Livelihoods Second; Communicate With Transparency and Empathy. “We have each other’s backs here, placing each other’s welfare ahead of making money,” Wilder says.

So what makes Anthony Wilder Design/Build such a wonderful place to work? There’s a lot to love: a location near the river, flexible hours, fun social events and a generous health insurance plan in which the company fully covers both premiums and deductibles. Every employee is eligible for quarterly bonuses. Finally, there’s the transparent practice of open book management, in which everyone regularly attends “huddles” to review the business’s financial situation and offer input.

“What the managers know, the rest of the company knows,” says truck driver Sal Jalloh, who joined the business this summer. Even the occasional meetings that last hours are actually a good thing, he says. “Every voice matters when a decision needs to be made about how the company can improve.”

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