Transforming your office into a desired destination

January 4, 2018 Kelsey Burgess

Today’s workplace is so much more than cubicles and conference rooms. It can often be a direct link to a company’s success. To stay competitive, smart companies know they need to offer a well-designed workplace that encourages real productivity and collaboration, promotes health and happiness, and helps attract and retain top talent.

But in an ever-evolving industry, it’s hard to stay on top of the latest trends, which is why we partnered with five of our preferred suppliers across key design areas—architecture, flooring, lighting, furniture and audio visual technology—to author a series of articles intended to showcase cutting-edge trends in planning and design that are enhancing workplace experience for our clients. Trends that will help get you in front, and even ahead, of the workplace curve.

This is the third article in a five-part series.

Bringing your employees back into the office

Today’s employees can work from almost anywhere they want. As long as they have access to wifi, they can work from coffee shops, restaurants, home, you name it. Today’s employers recognize this trend and an increasing number of them are offering flexible work programs in order to attract and retain the best talent.

At the same time, many of these employers also see the value in creating destination offices – places where employees want to come into work. Destination offices are not only vibrant and full of energy, they enhance the employee experience and promote a contagious culture of collaboration, which employees crave. According to a survey conducted by Queens University on employees (born between 1980 to 2000), three out of four employees rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important” to their work.

Of course, the idea of a ‘destination’ goes much further than a really hip space and plenty of breakout areas a la Google. It needs to be a place where people feel energized, welcome and able to thrive. From virtual reality to fitness centers to employee lounges, destination offices need to be thoughtfully designed to appeal to the employee experience as well as your broader organization’s needs.

So, how do you transform your office into a place your employees want to go on a day-to-day basis?

Below are three very high level steps to get you moving towards your ideal destination.

  1. Hire the right partners: It may seem obvious, but it’s critical to partner with the right project manager and architecture/design firms who have been there, done that. After meeting with you to understand your overall vision and goals, your partners should closely align with you to design a space that not only meets, but exceeds employee expectations. The earlier the design firm is brought into the process, the better the employee experience will ultimately be. 
  2. Know what your employees want: The way you use and think about your space should be rooted in your people. Strive to keep tailoring your space to your employees, their workstyles and their wants. Everything from the food employees eat to the technologies they use to the office spaces where they work are all a part of the employee experience. Find out what your employees’ preferences are in order to design a ‘workplace that works’ for them.
    “Today’s employees have so many choices when it comes to where they work,” commented George Condes, Senior Project Manager, JLL. “From flexible work programs to wellness centers to upscale cafeterias, it’s an employee’s world and corporations need to give them what they want if they want to attract and retain the best people.”
  3. Deliver optimal employee experiences through your physical space: Once you know what your employees want, deliver those experiences through your physical space. Ergonomic sit-to-stand desks, lighting sensors, stylish furniture, virtual reality, digital collaboration, fitness centers, employee lounges and open workspaces are all part of creating great employee experiences where people actually want to show up for work. A dynamic environment communicates to your employees that you are invested in them now and in the long term.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach

What’s most important when designing your new office destination is recognizing that employees have different preferences for how they like to work. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach and acknowledging that people work in different ways is essential for productivity. In other words, you’ll likely end up with several different types of work spaces within the office, including collaborative open spaces, huddle rooms, several lounge like environments, conference rooms, etc. By providing multiple means of getting work done, the space works for everyone.

“In addition to providing flexible work spaces when designing your ideal office, it’s also critical that your brand and culture come through in your design,” commented Richelle Allen, Principal, IA Interior Architects. “Your office design provides the perfect platform for communicating who you are as a company. A strong brand and culture leads to proud employees who want to come into work and show off their space to family, friends and clients.”

Take a look at how Whirlpool and Conversant are bringing employees back into their offices after recently transforming their offices into desired destinations.

Revitalized headquarters receives rave reviews

Whirlpool needed to make some major updates to its North American and Global headquarters locations in Benton Harbor, MI. Although the company had a strong and loyal employee base, it needed to revitalize its offices in order to attract new and retain existing top talent within its smaller market. Driven by their ambition, JLL partnered closely with Synergy partner Interior Architects to deliver a destination office that exceeded employee expectations.

With clear business goals established, IA Interior Architects designed a game changing work environment that enables collaboration and innovation across the board. From open stairways promoting collaboration to perimeter spaces catered to more individual work, the office has something for everyone. Full service dining areas, conference centers, a convenience store, lighting sensors, an editing suite, healthcare suite and more are all offered to appeal to the employee experience.

The new environment captures the Whirlpool tradition and culture, yet reflects the company’s global reach. The workspace demonstrates an understanding of how people work and provides the flexibility to accommodate future work styles. Post-occupancy studies have determined a 40 percent increase in employee pride, productivity and improvements in meeting effectiveness. In addition, the partners exceeded one of Whirlpool’s primary goals by achieving LEED Platinum certification.

Here are the results:

  • 82% of employees say “I’m able to easily locate team or group members when I need to discuss a work-related issue.”
  • 66% say “the new work environment makes my team a more effective contributor to Whirlpool.”
  • 68% say “the new work environment facilitates faster decision making.”
  • 87% say “my workspace supports opportunities to learn from my co-workers.”
  • 72% say “the overall work environment enables choice and flexibility in how I get my work done.”

Personalizing its own headquarters space to attract new prospects

As a leader in personalized digital marketing, Conversant wanted to personalize its own headquarters space to attract and retain top talent for the company. As part of its overall vision, the company wanted an open flexible space that promoted collaboration by bringing its different brands and divisions together. It also wanted to emphasize the firm’s status as a technology company and the industries it serves. Working closely with Conversant, JLL and IA Interior Architects transformed the downtown Chicago’s office space into an edgy urban loft-type workplace – the type of workplace that employees would want to come into work.

Private offices, planned for maximum efficiency, also serve as meeting rooms. Collaboration areas include privacy rooms for up to two people, huddle areas, various sized conference rooms, employee lounge space, communal pantries, multipurpose training rooms, and a great room. Corridor space is maximized for collaboration, with under-used areas converted into venues with bleacher-type seating against one wall for viewing presentations projected on the opposite wall.

Every inch of the 47,000 square foot space has been tailored to the employee experience, transforming the space into not just an office, but a destination for existing employees and a recruitment tool for prospective ones.

Since its revitalization, Conversant has added over 500 jobs in Chicago and the design standard developed for this project is now the global standard for the organization.

As more employees continue to work remotely and attracting top talent relies more heavily on the look and feel of the workplace, creating a destination employees are happy to go into on a regular basis is becoming a top priority for companies. We can help.

IA Interior Architects is one of five preferred suppliers within JLL’s newly created and first of its kind Strategic Council (previously called Workplace Strategy Council). The Council was created across key design areas to reinforce JLL’s commitment to clients and their workplaces. For more information about these suppliers and the Council, click here.


Richelle Allen, Principal, IA Interior Architects; George Condes, Senior Project Manager, JLL; Morgan Junia, Vice President, JLL PDS Sourcing

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