At one point, RL Solutions’ software fit on three floppy disks. Things are a bit different now.
The healthcare enterprise software company, founded in 1997 (back when floppy disks made sense) has expanded just a bit from those early days. RL Solutions now works with over 2,000 clients around the world, including SickKids and Johns Hopkins. In some cases, they even work with entire countries, like Denmark.
Sanjay Malaviya is the president and CEO of RL Solutions, and like all great business ideas, his story began when he ran into a problem he couldn’t solve through ordinary means. Malaviya worked at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and a colleague asked him if he could convert the existing paper-based patient feedback process into an easier-to-manage software solution.
That favor for a colleague—just over 20 years ago—sprung RL Solutions on a path to become the healthcare giant it is now. It wasn’t always glory and paydays in the beginning though, as Malaviya began the company with a single desk in a waterfront condo. Since then, thankfully things have gotten a tad larger. The company now occupies over 41,000 square feet on floors 1 Yonge Street in Toronto, a historic waterfront building that also serves as the headquarters of the Toronto Star.
Today, RL Solutions provides their clients with risk management, patient feedback, infection prevention, peer reviews, claims management and a host of other services. They help healthcare organizations improve the quality of care—a task they do not take lightly.
Oh, and if you were wondering—yes, Malaviya’s old stomping ground of St. Michael’s Hospital is indeed a client of RL Solutions.
The current working space is reflective of years of input from RL Solutions staff over the years. It has a distinct emphasis on community and collaboration with different areas dedicated to eating, working and enjoying some off-time.
Every year, the team heads up to the Muskoka region for a company-wide retreat, and that love for the cottage country definitely followed RL Solutions home. There is a definite wood motif happening across the office, from gorgeous wooden floors to light and ceiling fixtures that add a rugged complexity to the streamlined workspaces.
That theme continues with The Cabin, a way to bring the cottage back to downtown Toronto. The wooden features bring a sense of coziness to the surrounding outdoor concrete jungle. And no cottage is complete without some video games and musical instruments, and of course some oars and moose on the walls for good measure.
There are collaborative spaces spread across the three floors to host meetings or have quick chats. RL Solutions caters to every kind of worker, boasting quiet phone pods and booths and even some walking treadmill desks to keep the blood flowing through those active employees. Some of the teams you may find throughout the space include developers, marketing, finance and operations.
Each of the three floors boasts different themes when it comes to meeting and communal spaces. Floor 21 is inspired by sports, though you won’t find specific teams on the walls—there’s far too much passion for teams across the world to name drop anyone in particular. Floor 22 borrows names from Canadian natural landmarks like Boreal and the Maritimes, while floor 23 is inspired by Toronto, sporting familiar area code names like 416, 647 and 905.
“RL is built on a foundation of trust,” said Mike Etzinger, VP of Marketing. “That’s why we have flexible vacation, the pub, a ping pong stadium and a gym.”
“When we built our office, we wanted a space that reflected this feeling of trust while also encouraging an environment of collaboration and comradery.”
Keeping employees satiated and happy is something RL Solutions takes pride in. Breakfast is offered and rotated every morning, so you may find anything from bagels to parfaits to oatmeal waiting for you when you stroll in.
Snacks are strategically placed: breakfast is served on floor 23, but quick eats like fresh fruit, chips and popcorn are housed on floors 22 and 21, encouraging colleagues to move between floors and interact with one other if they want a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Speaking of that mid-afternoon perk, coffee is no joke here. Eight machines help keep employees happy with drips and lattes galore, and if you’re one of those “floral notes” types, the coffee club regularly gathers to test out new gourmet brews.
Throw in some company-wide potlucks and catered team meetings or lunches and RL Solutions has this whole food and drink thing nailed down—not to mention that if someone is feeling up to it, they can hop on a ferry and enjoy a scenic picnic lunch on Toronto Island in less than 20 minutes. It’s starting to make sense that even RL Solutions’ office location ties into that “get away from the city” motif.
The unofficial motto at RL Solutions is “good people do great things,” and that’s led Malaviya and co. to craft a passionate and dedicated team of professionals. Even if every employee were to switch to making canoes tomorrow, they would be able to excel at it, simply because it’s the right group of people all working hard together.
That canoe idea led to the creation of the storied Canoe Club, a recognition for RL Solutions employees who have been with the company for over 10 years. That’s not the only club though—maybe you want to try your hand and join the anime, music, bead, salad or chess club? The good thing is that none of those require 10 years of service, though you might need that equivalent in experience to beat some of RL Solutions’ best chess players.
“If you hire the right people, you trust them to do the right thing—and it’s in this spirit that we built our space the way we did.“
There’s ping pong too, but not like usual. RL Solutions has a stadium, complete with a wallpapered audience. The annual tournament draws in almost every employee and their family, and it’s no holds barred—champions care not for community when it comes to the storied halls of the ping pong stadium.
If ping pong isn’t the preferred workout, there’s a complete gym on-site with showers, along with a wellness room. For those who want to take the workout beyond the in-house gym, RL Solutions offers a fitness reimbursement.
If none of that floats your boat, just hit the pub. Oh yeah—there’s a fully equipped pub at the office, with a gorgeous dark wood bar top, a pool table, golf simulator, shuffleboard and a killer view. What else do you need?
RL Solutions keep employees well-fed and physically fit, so naturally, education is imperative as well. The company offers employees an educational assistance program to work on outside of the office and other non-linear ways to keep the team growing in the right direction.
There are continuing education courses and maker-space projects, along with lunch and learns led by both employees and outside experts. Some of the clubs are also focused on improving life skills, such as the Toastmasters club that helps employees get better at public speaking.
Photos by Matt Odynski
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