Corporate Headquarters: From the Inside Out | Gensler

Above: Johnson Controls Headquarters Asia Pacific — Shanghai.


With so many people having choices in where they do their work — ranging from third places, airport lounges, hotel lobbies, or simply at home — we have higher expectations for what the work experience should feel like. Now we ask: What’s the draw to the workplace? What is the workplace’s new value proposition? And how should the job of the work environment evolve?

Experiences are key to defining human interactions. Just as consumers choose the experience of shopping as much as they choose the products they buy, progressive companies see the workforce as their “customers” and look to turn current and future employees into the best thing possible: true believers.

This trend is having a significant impact on corporate headquarters, which bear the responsibility of setting the tone for a culture that begins at home but may extend time zones away. In earlier times, the headquarters’ job description was about communicating presence: the building, sign, and logo. In that paradigm, the workplace was considered a cost — a container to fill with people, furniture, and tools. The new job description is different. It turns the workplace into a valuable asset — one that is designed to support people in myriad ways, not simply house them.

A great headquarters is sustained by great work experiences. Now there’s a stronger sense of culture, which is reinforced by tangible links to the organization’s mission and values. When it comes to work, people are letting us know that purpose and meaning are great motivators. Increasingly, they are looking for jobs that satisfy that desire in addition to providing an income.

The goal is to encourage employees to do more than simply show up for work. With a well-aligned branded work experience, they’re more likely to show up with enthusiasm. And when the experience clicks, they’ll feel they belong and will understand how to contribute. That’s when they’ll start to believe.