In 1997, McKinsey & Company tackled the increasingly competitive employee recruitment and retention landscape in a pioneering study that coined the phrase “war for talent.” Two decades later, the phrase is part of the global management lexicon, and the “war” is even more prevalent: Generational shifts and advances in globalization and technology have made attracting top talent and reducing turnover high priorities for most employers.
In addition to the traditional lures (salary increases, benefit packages), an attractive, high-performance workplace is an increasingly relevant strategy. OCLC recognized this when they hired Perkins+Will to transform their headquarters in Dublin, Ohio into space that would more accurately match its talented pool of current and future employees. The global technology nonprofit provides cutting-edge tools, data, and shared services to help libraries operate efficiently. With recent STEM graduates flocking to Silicon Valley for career opportunities with technology giants and fledgling startups, OCLC wanted to capitalize on their space to appeal to and retain the talent pool in their own Midwestern backyard.
A 2016 IIDA survey reported that the more satisfied employees are with their workplace, the less likely they are to quit, the more engaged they are at work, and the more likely they are to support corporate goals. Aesthetics matter, too: 82% of millennials would let the prospect of working in a beautifully designed building influence their decision to accept a job. OCLC saw the potential that an energized and healthy workplace could have on employee satisfaction and productivity, health and well-being, and levels of innovation and teamwork. Seeing their physical workplace as a powerful investment in people, OCLC’s facilities and human resources teams communicated a vision of how the space could not only enliven their workforce, but also help promote the organization as a leading technology company.
With these goals in mind, our team created an activated workplace that promotes innovation, flexibility, and health and wellness. This project focused on the building’s public spaces, namely, its four-story, monochrome atrium, which had been walled off from heavily trafficked-floors. To reintroduce the atrium as the focal point of the building, the design incorporated a completely new, cantilevered stairway that is both sculptural and functional in connecting people throughout the building. This stairway embodies active design at its best—inviting employees previously dependent on elevators to travel via stair, and make connections with colleagues along the way.
In addition, stone panels that previously shielded interior spaces from access and daylight were removed to unveil a new tier of enclosed, state-of-the-art meeting rooms. Improved artificial lighting brightens the space, especially with a pairing of an upgraded skylight. New glass panes in the skylight improve visible light transmittance while blocking harmful solar heat that had once negatively impacted the energy performance of the building.
Significant changes were also made to the building lobby to enhance building security, while simultaneously creating an impressive entry experience for employees and visitors.
The Perkins+Will dubbed “Third Space,” a social café and gathering space, was designed as an extension to the upgraded dining and servery to foster employee connectivity across the building. This renovation also spurred OCLC to unveil a new and improved food service offering of healthy and fresh options.
The space was unveiled in August 2016, just in time for OCLC to host over 800 people for the IFLA World Library and Information Congress.
Since this opening event, employees have settled in their new workplace and the feedback is positive: “I’m thrilled to be a part of the change and I’m energized by our new look,” an OCLC employee relayed to our team. Tammi Spayde, OCLC’s Vice President of Marketing, Facilities, and Human Resources, shares this energy and enthusiasm, especially when thinking about what’s to come for OCLC, “We host a lot of people in the new facility through open houses, Town Hall meetings, events, and international conferences. The openness, light, and connectivity of the space will impress prospective candidates, and has revitalized the way our current employees think about work at OCLC.”