A corporate office acts as the central hub of operations. It’s a space that potential business partners, current clients visit, where ideas are born and talented employees decide the future direction of the company. For some, design is just an additional component of construction. However, for a corporate office, design should reflect the theme of the company, its history and its future.
Anthony Michael is an interior specialist and runs his own interior design firm here in Chicago. He says that design impacts a company—and the people in it—much more than you might think.
“I firmly believe good design and decoration are hugely responsible for the behavioral response to a space. In other words, the way a space makes you feel will have an impact on your mood, disposition, perception and response,” says Michael.
Color and furniture, when chosen purposefully, can drive productivity. Amenities like cafeterias, gyms, childcare, outdoor spaces and coffee shops help employees become fully immersed in their day, which enhances their commitment and their level of satisfaction. And well-designed lounges and niche spaces can promote co-creation, teamwork and collaboration. For all of these reasons and more, businesses are recognizing the impact that office design can have on productivity, culture, and even the perception of every single potential franchise lead, client or partner that steps foot in their space.
Which Wich Superior Sandwiches has created a vibrant and relaxed work space that embodies the fun feel of its restaurants nationwide. Back in 2013, the sandwich concept moved from their previous downtown Dallas location to a bigger, 14,000-square-foot office occupying two floors in the Adolphus Tower.
The space has all the modern amenities like an upscale lounge area with a fully stocked kitchen, entertainment and free Which Wich sandwiches around the clock. In addition to these perks, there's a candy corner and a wall filled with the brand's signature ordering bags that employees have doodled on. When you walk in, you may get sprinkled in confetti from cannons mounted on the walls or greeted by a playful dog. The office exudes a feeling of fun and really allows employees to feel truly comfortable in their work space. VP of Corporate Communications for Which Wich Superior Sandwiches Hala Habal says that office design is integral to the brand.
"Our office environment spurs creativity and creates a positive energy among our staff. We take pride in our unique space that continues to grow as we expand as a brand throughout the U.S. and internationally," Habal said.
Another restaurant franchise, TGI Fridays, moved its headquarters from Carrollton to downtown Dallas in early 2016 after downsizing its corporate team. The new office is smaller, with only 45,000 square feet of space, but allows for more collaboration and aims to solidify the renewed focus on millennials and a new brand image that is hip and social. The location boasts several spaces where executives can get comfortable and brainstorm, including a ‘Social Hub’ in the middle of office, which is stocked with food, lounge chairs, music and entertainment.
Mike Warren, a consultant at Rieke Office Interiors near Chicago, says that this trend to incorporate a variety of work spaces and entertainment areas into an office is only growing.
"With several generations in an office and each generation working differently, it's really important for a company to create spaces that cater to people with a variety of needs," says Warren. "Younger employees want more collaborative, creative spaces whereas overall, there's been a big demand for multi-functional desks that allow you to sit or stand.”
As more companies look to refresh their concept and target millennials, this means not only catering to employees, but also potential franchisees and current clients.
"When your space is unique it differentiates you from your competition. You only get one chance to make a good first impression and an innovative office design shows that you are creative, care about your employees and pay attention to detail," says Warren.
Wing Stop is another brand that invested in its future and moved its headquarters from a suburb of Dallas to downtown back in 2014 as the company celebrated a year of record expansion and required a space that met its growth. Their new office in Dallas is over 25,000 square-feet and is modern with new technology, a completely open office space, natural light and several areas where work and play intermix. In addition to spaces throughout the office that reflect the kitschy theme of the brand, the new office also has an onsite deli and fitness center.
McDonald's recently announced that they are leaving their massive corporate campus in suburban Oak Brook and moving downtown, and the company is not foregoing any expense in creating the new, state-of-the-art building located in the West Loop. The brand is leasing a nine-story, 600,000-square-foot building that will be built on the old site of Harpo Studios where Oprah Winfrey filmed her show. The new space is expected to have many of the same amenities of the previous office including a full-service McDonald's restaurant and the famous Hamburger University where the company trains students on multiple operation aspects such as consistency and cleanliness. The new office is also expected to be more modern than the traditional design of the Oak Brook office.
According to DNAinfo Chicago, the new corporate headquarters will have a full-service shuttle transporting employees to and from train stations and an upscale rooftop space. While many design plans are still in the works, this new office in the trendy and vibrant West Loop will help the hamburger giant refresh its more old-style image and attract more great talent.
Between Which Wich, Wingstop and behemoth brands like McDonald’s, there’s a quantifiable link between well-designed workplaces, innovation and creativity. That’s why, today, top performing companies are embracing good design to promote focus, collaboration, training and socialization. And they’re seeing bigger bottom lines, easier recruitment of top talent, higher retention and better overall job satisfaction because of it.