How do you make meaningful connections in a work environment that includes 10,000 employees in 15 separate office buildings on a 385-acre campus? And how do you make sure these connections withstand cultural dynamics at the personal, professional and global level? The ExxonMobil Houston Campus focuses less on walls and desks and more on people and connections to create a variety of offices which sustain the work and wellbeing of its employees. From physical design to human experience, creating the “connected office” took more than 8 years and a large team of corporate leaders, architects, designers and business transition consultants to ensure that ExxonMobil’s talented people remained the core of the campus.
The open design of the entire corporate campus down to individual interior spaces helps create visual connectedness that allows for employees to see people they know throughout the day. The ability to identify a co-worker across the outdoor commons or across a room mitigates isolation that exists in more traditional closed office plans. Open and centralized hubs create movement between floors to turn the routine coffee break into a place for serendipitous collisions at work. When intelligent minds move about freely, there is opportunity for incidental innovation to spark.
A network of connectors (glass enclosed, air-conditioned walkways) that join each office building at the ground level are essential for cross-campus mobility. Connectors allow employees to walk seamlessly from one building or quad to the next without stepping foot outside, a necessity for the often unpredictable Texas climate. More movement, whether indoors or out, brings a collegiate spirit to the campus. Each walk and each wave further the feeling of connectivity at the peer, work group and business unit level.
Enhanced efficiency and productivity are a byproduct of the connected office and the campus offers the latest technology to maintain a high level of performance from its residents. Pervasive wireless internet throughout the campus allows residents and visitors to stay connected virtually anywhere. Work can be done perched on a nest-shaped lounge chair or taken outdoors to the amphitheater steps. ExxonMobil has invested in wireless sharing devices, video conferencing and interactive displays so that local and global collaboration alike are never bound by cables, walls, time zones or continents.
The connected office is a unique balance of spaces that allow independent work and collaboration with colleagues, whether planned or by happenstance, in person or through technology. By venturing out beyond the work floor, residents are able to meet, exchange ideas and share common interests with those outside of their immediate work group. For global companies like ExxonMobil, the connected office is more than optimal design, it strengthens a collaborative culture that is key to business success. Changing the way minds connect is changing the way the world thinks about energy.