The 712,000-square-foot Deloitte University (DU) facility in Westlake, Texas, was once a controversial project.
Some didn’t believe that the forward-thinking accounting company should invest significant resources in a non-virtual campus. But Deloitte executives were committed to growing the world’s best leaders through collaboration, and having a place where people could meet in person still seemed like the best path.
The cornerstone of the DU facility is a multi-touch, multi-user 20-foot media wall, which allows visitors to track others who are onsite in real-time. Attendees are encouraged to meet up in themed hang-out rooms on each floor, socialize in the facility’s many restaurants and lounges, and attend sessions in classrooms equipped with videoconferencing and wifi.
Working Together, Not ApartDeloitte is a culture where people talk to and brainstorm with each other–a lot–so the new facility was designed to make that as easy as possible. New employees often start their Deloitte careers with training that takes place at DU, and by the time they leave they are accustomed to working in a highly interactive fashion and are likely to continue this approach in their home offices.
Deloitte’s perspective is illustrated in a recent article for Forbes, in which Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett explained that today’s organizations are shifting from the “I” space to the “we” space. As the command-and-control leadership style fades, c-suite executives no longer wish to be isolated from their employees. This means that in the realm of physical space, the literal c-suite is becoming a thing of the past.
Steelcase, which is a workspace design company, does not have traditional offices. Its “we” spaces are conference rooms focused around particular issues or initiatives, and there reside the relevant executives and employees. Like Deloitte, Steelcase’s goal is to promote non-stop collaboration. This environment, as Mr. Hackett told Forbes, aims to encourage eye contact, provide everyone with equal access to information and allow people to move around and participate freely.
Learn more about how to map office design to culture at the AMEX Open Forum.