Designing for a Multi-Generational Workforce

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With the increased presence of millenials in the workplace, companies have become focused on providing environments that address the needs of a multi-generational workforce. In terms of design, this has been introduced in the form of blending the traditional with the innovative and contemporary, often skewing more towards the traditional in the financial services industry while leaning towards the innovative in other sectors. The technology sector, for example, has rapidly adapted to the open workplace, eliminating barriers and working in highly collaborative settings.

A commonly held belief about moving towards a more open collaborative environment is that this will lead to a lack of privacy and increase in distractions with little regard to corporate hierarchies. In reality, when designed well, a space can perfectly strike the balance between fostering collaboration while still providing the required privacy and work areas needed to fit a company’s culture. Over the last several months, our team completed the office spaces for three prominent financial services firms located in the heart of Boston’s Financial District and essentially “busted this myth” as they looked to incorporate a more collaborative environment and contemporary look and feel into their new office designs. Highlighted below are key design features of these spaces, each unique to the client. What each space proves is that financial firms can introduce open plan design without sacrificing the corporate culture they value.

Westfield Capital Management

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The 26,000 SF office design for investment firm Westfield Capital Management involved relocating their office from the 24th floor to the 23rd floor of One Financial Center. The new space is innovative in its design and includes glass front private offices, custom millwork, low work stations, a conference center, a yoga room and trading area. Comprising one corner of the floor is a new pantry and employee lounge that takes advantage of the offices skyline views. The objective of the design was to create an open office feel while still having private offices at the perimeter, which was achieved through an abundant use of glass to carry views and natural light into interior spaces. Additionally, the open office was dispersed with numerous file islands to promote collaboration and impromptu meetings.

Private Equity Investor

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This private equity investor underwent a 12,000 SF complete office design that focused on bringing openness and functionality to their 35th floor space at One International Place. An expansive reception and café area is used for daily office needs as well as client events. Complete with a conference center and floor to ceiling glass fronts that allow access to views of the harbor below, the area serves as a central hub for office collaboration. The work environment features glass office fronts, organized around a curved corridor that is crowned by an LED lit ceiling. To maintain a high focus work environment, we strategically eliminated the company’s old cubicles, moving employees to glass front internal offices and low wall work stations. The 8×8 offices provide a feeling of privacy, while the elimination of doors provokes an open collaborative feel. A one-foot extended glass partition visually connects each office to the adjacent. Traditional details like custom millwork and elegant furnishings complete the clean, crisp design of the space.

Financial Engines

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Independent investment adviser Financial Engines recently relocated to 28 State Street. The interior fit-up covered two 19,000 SF floors, connected by an internal communicating stair, to promote vertical movement and create one cohesive environment. To address some features of the space such as a standard ceiling height and a ribbon window system, the design team introduced unique lighting in unexpected places, sleek and clean finishes and design features that would maximize the access to natural light. An employee lounge creates a central gathering location for the company staff. The work environment maintains glass front offices on the interior giving the much coveted window line views to employees in low wall work stations. Bringing technology into the equation, conference and meeting rooms are equipped with room schedulers and flat screen displays. Summing up the design intent of the space, VC Principal Design Sherry Niazmand explains “the design brings natural light into the interior and encourages interaction among all levels of staff.”

Together, the three spaces prove that the Financial Services profession is adjusting to and adapting a new open work environment. With a greater focus on collaboration, communication and transparency, companies are achieving their objective of creating well-designed spaces to attract and retain a multi-generational workforce.

Project photography © Neil Alexander for Visnick & Caulfield
Written by: Isobelle Hemmers
Edited by: Bob Caulfield, Senior Principal and Elle Litwinetz, Marketing Manager at Visnick & Caulfield