In this office, employee well-being starts with a pickleball court

JThis summer, the financial services company Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association will open the doors to a campus that looks a lot like a public park, with walking paths, a disc golf course, putting greens, bocce courts, pickleball and a basketball court. As companies lean more into office amenities to attract and retain talent, TIAA has updated its Charlotte, NC offices with one specific goal in mind: to focus on wellness. physical and mental of the employees.

Spanning 92 acres – for comparison, that’s eight acres less than Disneyland’s 100 – the new campus resources also include a redesigned food hall, fitness center and pharmacy, as well as new workspaces for individual and collaborative work.

Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1918, TIAA provides wealth management services to more than 5 million clients, primarily in the academic, government, medical and other nonprofit sectors. The Charlotte campus, built in 2000, is one of the company’s four main offices, including its headquarters in Manhattan. Some 5,000 employees now work in the campus’ 989,000 square feet of office space, spread over 24 floors in six buildings.

With the renovation now two-thirds complete, the company is staggering its move-in process until construction is complete in late summer 2022. Teams whose assigned floors have been completed have already returned to the office at part-time. Others are still largely remote as their floors remain under construction, but can come to campus to meet colleagues, work in temporary coworking spaces and access new amenities.

The Issue: Designing Sustainable Spaces at an Unprecedented Time

By March 2020, TIAA and its architectural team at Interior Architects had finalized their workplace strategy and master plan for the redesign, which included an increased number of meeting spaces, new places to gather and collaborate, and extensive amenities such as a renovated fitness center and food hall.

The goal was to renovate a workplace that hadn’t undergone a major renovation since it was built two decades ago. “It had to have some longevity,” says Stephanie Schmitz, principal at Interior Architects. “They wanted to design a workplace that would take them into the future, so they didn’t have to have renovation plans every five years.”

Then the pandemic started. The company had to switch to remote working, and the design team had a new question to answer: how do you design for an unprecedented and unpredictable pandemic, while creating spaces that would last long into the future?

The Opportunity: A Chance to Reimagine Wellbeing on Campus

Even before the pandemic, “wellness was one of our guiding principles,” says Jennifer Cline, head of workplace strategy and execution at TIAA. Their campus already had an on-site health services center staffed with doctors and nurses, and pre-pandemic plans called for adding a new fitness center for employees.

However, as Covid-19 spread through their community, the role of health and wellness in their design took on new importance:. A successful return to the office depended on creating a workplace where employees felt safe, healthy and supported. Spaces were needed that could accommodate physical distancing requirements and provide access to fresh air and the outdoors.

“What has really changed with the pandemic is our focus on our outdoor spaces and our amenities – it was something that was out of our reach before the pandemic,” says Cline, adding that “we have 92 acres of campus, but for the last 20 years no one has used those spaces.

The process: an emphasis on flexibility

Throughout the summer of 2020, TIAA and its design team revised their redesign plans with a new guiding principle: flexibility.

With employees now used to the freedom of remote working, TIAA hoped to enable similar movement and choice throughout the office workday. “We encouraged mobility across campus,” says Stephanie Schmitz, adding that their new focus on outdoor spaces encouraged “the use of the campus as a whole, not just the buildings.”

The same approach also guided their new plans for interior spaces. “We have flexible furniture, things that can be adjusted and moved around,” Cline explains. We have technology in place to quantitatively measure how our spaces are being used so that we can be flexible and make informed decisions.

The result: 92 acres for work, play and well-being

All new indoor facilities are complete and open to staff, but construction continues on many outdoor workspaces and grounds, which are expected to be completed this summer.

Although the new campus outdoor facilities “are recreational in nature,” says Cline, “the business rationale was that they will create more opportunities for collaboration, team building, and integrating the outdoors into the day of work. »

Keith Isaacs / Courtesy of Interior Designers

Even as construction crews continue to work in the field, new indoor spaces keep employees connected to the outdoors through terraces and abundant natural light.

Keith Isaacs / Courtesy of Interior Designers

Each floor of each of the six buildings on campus includes spaces dedicated to well-being, both physical and mental: a mindfulness room, where employees can reserve space for prayer, meditation or a quick flow of yoga ; a mother’s room for nursing parents; and multiple hygiene stations stocked with hand sanitizer, masks, and disinfectant wipes.

Keith Isaacs / Courtesy of Interior Designers

And then there is the gym. TIAA’s new 11,000-square-foot gym has always been part of the campus overhaul plan, but the pandemic — and the organization’s new focus on flexibility — has changed how employees use it. .

Keith Isaacs / Courtesy of Interior Designers

“Before, it was generally expected that if you wanted to use the gym, you would arrive an hour early, go during lunch, or stay a little later in the evening,” Cline says. “It has evolved to be more integrated into the workday: hit the treadmill when you need to solve a problem in your head. It’s not about work-life balance. It’s a matter of work-life integration.

Keith Isaacs / Courtesy of Interior Designers

One of the most unique amenities added by TIAA is access to a fully stocked on-site pharmacy, where employees can obtain both over-the-counter and prescription medications. The addition of a pharmacy “complemented our existing conveniences,” says Cline. “We already had doctors and nurses on site, but it could still be difficult to pick up your prescription before or after work because of the opening hours of the pharmacies.”

Keith Isaacs / Courtesy of Interior Designers

Tip: Design flexible spaces that can evolve over time

For leaders considering redesigning their own campuses, Cline has advice: “You have to build to scale. We don’t want to have to tear down and rebuild again and again.

For Cline, creating a space that can evolve to meet new needs is key to investing in an evolving workforce. “The employee is at the center of everything,” she says. “It must not only make fiscal sense, but [workplaces] must work for them. As their preferences change and we attract more Gen Zers, we need to be able to adapt.

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