The Power of Choice
The driver behind Nestlé’s redesign of the Harper Building on its Cleveland-area campus was much deeper than the usual song and dance of a modern aesthetic update. It is, in fact, the U.S. pilot program for a new workplace standard that originated at the company’s global headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland in 2015. To bring its Smarter Workplace concept to Solon, Nestlé partnered with DLR Group|Westlake Reed Leskosky to create a modern, functional office aimed at accommodating a growing number of employees on the campus.
Nestlé applied its global workplace expertise to the design of the Harper Building. The company realized that between 40 and 50 percent of employees’ time was spent on collaboration-based activities, which changed the way they utilized traditional office layouts. When working with us to design the Harper Building, Nestlé had a key project driver to benefit its employees: Access to variety of workspaces. The renovation offers employees a mix of different focus and collaboration areas, in additionto their personal workstations, giving them freedom to choose the space that best suits the task at hand.
“In creating the new standards, what we learned is that employees are looking for an inspiring workplace with a choice in how to work, balancing quiet spaces and collaborative spaces,” says Dawn Striff, Nestlé USA Head of Corporate Real Estate and Facilities. “Nestlé looked at more than 50 workplace projects and strategies around the world in developing the New Ways of Working concept, which emphasizes ergonomics in both furniture and space planning, and is focused on the employee experience.”
Solon is an important location for the company as home to Nestlé USA’s Foods and Baking Divisions, Nestlé Professional, Nestlé Business Services, and Nestlé Development Center-Solon, as well as a center of excellence for the company’s frozen and chilled foods business. As part of Nestlé’s ongoing business transformation, new teams were recently assigned to the 82-acre campus, including the Technical & Production organization, which is housed on the first floor of the Harper Building. The Supply Chain team will occupy the top two floors. The moves bring these critical functions closer together, with 75 percent of Nestlé USA factories and 85 percent of its top customers located in the eastern half of the United States.
The user-centric Harper Building reflects Nestlé’s global workplace design guidelines, where tall partitions and private offices are removed. Instead, each employee has a designated workstation to center themselves, with storage for personal items. A white noise system was implemented to minimize noise distractions, and an emphasis was placed on maximizing access to natural light and exterior views.
Options throughout the workplace promote movement and engagement among employees. Traditional conference rooms feature floor-to-ceiling glass and are fully A/V-equipped, and an innovation area provides mobile furniture and teleconferencing. A yoga, meditation, and prayer room offers a place for quiet contemplation. Employees can also take advantage of several “hubs” with various set-ups for large town hall meetings or intimate brainstorming sessions, as well as huddle rooms for small group conversations.
Ceilings can be an overlooked design tool that inform the end user’s perception of space. In the Harper Building, they help decompress different spaces. Nestlé worked with us to design groups of acoustical tiles into “runners” with intermittent breaks where the ceiling slightly dropped, translating into “islands” on the floor below. This creates a unique zone for each of the work areas, and a sense of community.
“We carefully plotted an assortment of environments to create a work space that embodies Nestlé’s belief in ’Good Food, Good Life,’ and brings greater social connectivity, more flexibility and overall enhanced engagement among employees across the building,” says Kira Kabo, LEED AP+, Nestlé USA Head of Corporate Facilities and Security, who led the Harper Building project.
The success of Nestlé’s New Ways of Working/Smarter Workplace concept has transformed approximately 15,000 Nestlé workstations globally. At the global headquarters in Vevey, Nestlé’s office has been recognized with the Leesman+ Award, which places it in the top 3.5 percent of more than 1,500 buildings surveyed across the world for employee satisfaction. The company is currently in the process of implementing similar design standards at its new U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. While some variations and modifications will apply to future Smarter Workplace sites around the world, one thing will remain the same: Placing the power of choice into the hands of the employee.