The Corporate Campus

A few weeks ago, I sat in on a meeting with the head of global real estate for an innovative company here in California. He was amazingly generous in sharing his strategy on how he approached developing properties for his company, and I took three pages of notes over that 20 minute period.

I think we’ve all heard the term “campus” when referring to a large company’s property. I always thought of the term as simply meaning a large plot of land with multiple buildings, but the actual concept of a corporate campus goes much further.

Innovative companies think of their buildings and properties as an investment but they don’t rate the ROI based only on profits generated from their real estate assets over their cost. This particular executive saw real estate as an asset that should be used for five key purposes.

Their campuses are designed to-

  1. Attract and retain top talent.

  2. Create their culture and define their brand.

  3. Be resilient assets that can morph and grow.

  4. Promote collaboration while still offering privacy.

  5. Support employee well being.

Interestingly enough, for a company that relies heavily on engineers to drive innovation, the ability to attract and retain top talent is a major part of their success and why companies are creating amazing campuses. For their company, they take the term campus to a very literal interpretation and relate it directly to the campus at a school.

In major colleges, once students are on campus, they have everything at their fingertips. There is a campus health office and health care. There is a student union with eateries. There are outdoor spaces to decompress and study.  There are opportunities to socialize with fellow students. There is a fitness center to stay in shape. There are private study areas and libraries for deep focus work. Recreating this type of campus on a corporate level can really connect the dots for a recent college graduate looking for a new place to work. They see the corporate campus and think, “This is set up just like school. I could definitely work here.”

For human beings, familiarity and continuity are major factors in creating comfortable transitions, and these companies are looking to develop real estate that easily bridges the gap between learning and doing. This is how they use their real estate assets to attract and retain talent.

From a technology perspective, realizing that many companies are thinking of their buildings as more than a place where they can fit 100 desks can be very beneficial. We need to stop thinking of our clients spaces as three conference rooms and 10 huddle spaces. We need to start exploring opportunities for media and entertainment in corporate cafeterias and food courts, in recreational music and video in escape pods in open office environments, in displays and connectivity in the company gym, in lobby based AV systems utilized for company story telling and tours, etc.

I believe there are so many uncovered opportunities in these spaces, and being able to approach a technology conversation with the client in a way that pays homage to the five corporate campus design considerations listed above has the potential to yield great benefits for all parties involved.

Just another reason that we need to know what our clients are thinking about as they build out space. Setting our sights on their goals and not on our own will create the platform to develop relationships that matter, ones where they not only trust us to act in their best interest, but also need us to help them achieve their vision.