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What Does the Future Hold for the Corporate Campus?

In the future, corporate campuses could look quite different. Image © Gensler

In the last few years, there has been a big move toward corporate consolidation on large, amenity-rich campuses. The factors driving this move are the need to consolidate corporate real estate holdings, a desire to create synergy between formerly segregated departments, and a push to enhance company unity by putting everyone on one campus. Adding retail services and health and wellness amenities to the mix helps recruit and retain the best talent.

Employees love the amenities and the indoor/outdoor connection these corporate campuses feature. What they don’t love are the commutes to and from them. While corporations try to select locations that are convenient for the bulk of their workforce, the cost and availability of large tracts of land often means campuses are located on the outskirts of the city center or in suburbia. This translates into much longer daily commutes for the people who have to work there.

Because such long commute times have become a hot-button issue, many design firms are forecasting a drastic reduction in the number of new corporate campuses. They say millennials will push corporate America back to the urban core and into creative office spaces that are accessible by public transit. Our firm, however, is not abandoning the corporate campus. We see all kinds of new opportunities for corporate America to create value, collegiality, and better quality of work and life by considering some new thinking around these facilities.

Most companies correctly believe there is great value in having employees visit the “Mother Ship” on a regular basis so they can nurture relationships and further collaboration and innovation. Some companies like Yahoo, which formerly encouraged employee telecommuting, now insist employees work in the office. But what if you could satisfy both needs? What if you created free address satellite offices near employee homes for days when they don’t really need to be on the main campus? With the appropriate technology, employees could stay connected to the “Mother Ship” while enjoying the benefits of being close to home. Then the corporate campus could morph into more of a learning and collaboration center.

On any given day, only 40—43% of a company’s offices or workstations are occupied. Image © Gensler

According to Gensler’s proprietary research, on average only 40-43% of a company’s offices or workstations are occupied at any given time. So what if the corporate campus drastically reduced the number of assigned workstations and offices and moved to a free-address system for employees who don’t require a fixed location? Our consulting group is working with clients to determine optimal space occupancy and utilization. This will allow us to create programmatic solutions that reflect how individual companies really work and how they should use their space.

Such solutions could mean the corporate campus of tomorrow will look pretty different from the corporate campus of today, because the focus will shift from creating more space to thinking about how people actually use space. The desire to have better work/life balance, to reduce lengthy commutes, and to have ready access to amenities are not just millennial issues. All employees want these things—it just comes down to a question of balance. Every company has to weigh the pros and cons of offering more flexibility in the way their people work and in the types of spaces they need to be productive.

We look forward to exploring new campus options that augment company culture and the bottom line while simultaneously improving workers health and overall state of mind.

John Haba is a performance designer, a disruptive innovator and a lifelong learner. He believes in the interconnectedness of all things. John started as a project manager with Gensler more than 10 years ago. He is now a studio leader in Gensler’s Houston office leading teams working on complex corporate campuses. He is committed to innovative solutions to his client’s workspace issues. Contact him at john_haba@gensler.com.

Reader Comments (1)

thanks for the Nice information in the post

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