What Makes a Great Fashion Office

A few years ago, Neiman Marcus invested hundreds of millions of dollars in renovating its stores to make the experience more appealing to customers who had grown accustomed to shopping from home.

Today, the company takes the same approach with its headquarters.

The new Neiman Marcus headquarters, slated to open early next year in a Dallas skyscraper, is a roughly $100 million bet that in the post-pandemic world you can’t not just expect people to show up, you have to give them a reason.

The new space will have no private offices, or assigned workspaces of any kind, to free up more space for conference rooms, sofas and other seating areas to accommodate groups of people. The department store operator devotes approximately 70% of its 85,000 square feet of floor space to such collaboration zones, compared to 30% for individual workstations. Those ratios were reversed in the company’s former offices, a set of suites just above its Dallas flagship store, which it still owns.

The new office is built to reflect a landscape where a lot of corporate work can be done from anywhere. Rather than places where people have to show up to do (and keep) their jobs, employers like Neiman Marcus increasingly see the office as a space to brainstorm ideas and share unique experiences that can’t be replicated elsewhere.

The company is moving further than many fashion companies toward a hybrid working model, where employees can coordinate with their peers to meet in person as needed, rather than on a set schedule.

“Bringing people together in one physical space requires a lot of coordination of people’s schedules and lives,” said Eric Severson, Neiman Marcus Group’s Director of Human Resources and Membership. “So you should only do it when it’s the best way to build something together or have an experience together.”

Not all companies are so flexible. After two years of crafting remote work policies on the fly, employers and professional employees around the world are negotiating what permanent work arrangements will look like. This week, Apple told employees near its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., to report to the office three days a week starting in September. Nike and Adidas have seen many of their corporate employees come at least two days a week for months.

More than ever, the office is a powerful recruitment and retention tool. Everything from its design and layout to a company’s requirements for the days and times people should come in sets the tone for whether employees view their organization as a desirable place to work. Even companies with the strictest office attendance policies need to consider this, whether that means more meeting space or investing in ergonomic sofas and chairs or other perks that can rival the comfort of a home office.

“The biggest thing you can do wrong is go back to what you were doing before the pandemic,” said Craig Rowley, a senior client partner at recruitment consultancy Korn Ferry. “You need this kind of iterative process to get your employees to bring them back to the office.”

Real Domain

Even before the pandemic made remote working the norm, Neiman Marcus had already decided to move to a hybrid model, where its corporate teams would only use offices when needed. This gave the company a head start in planning its new center, which incorporated research “that cuts across sociology, social anthropology and industrial engineering,” Severson said.

The biggest learning was that desks were most useful for collaboration and that other employee needs – privacy and time to rest and rejuvenate, for example – could be better served elsewhere. He also learned – from his encounters with global architecture firm Gensler and “human-centric” design company IDEO as well as the furniture companies he employed – that the most attractive modern offices work a bit. like houses.

“It’s a combination of developing an open concept, but also allowing people to choose where they want to fit in on any given day throughout the day,” Severson said. “So they will move around as they would at home; they get up, sit down at their desk, they go from the kitchen to the bathroom and to the sofa.

To do this, the company will bring “auxiliary furniture,” or informal office equipment and accessories intended to support a range of postures such as sitting, perching and lounging. He’s also created a space with “tons of amenities” like a conference center and entertainment space on the building’s 42nd floor, where he can host “fashion shows and recognition events,” Severson said. .

A render of the new Neiman Marcus

When it comes to office design, fashion designers need spaces that inspire them to dream up their most innovative ideas — but décor pieces need to have meaning and be on brand, said practice director Melissa Gonzalez. of architecture MG2 and founder of The Lionesque Group.

“It’s about establishing this multi-sensory environment where interiors exude brand personality and stimulate energy and well-being,” she said.

On, the running shoe brand based in Zurich, Switzerland, earlier this year opened its new 17-story office space equipped with a central staircase, called “The Trail”, designed to replicate the hike of the three founders of the brand across the Engadine Valley in Switzerland in 2009 when they started building the business.

On, the running shoe brand based in Zurich, Switzerland, this year opened its new 17-story office space equipped with a central staircase dubbed

Employees are encouraged to use the staircase whenever possible as a source of motivation and a reminder of the company’s journey to the ladder. They are also organized into “villages,” similar to those the founders encountered while climbing the mountain, rather than discrete departments, to encourage collaboration.

Nike’s New York headquarters has a pool, multiple gyms, a basketball court, and cafes offering free meals and drinks, including coffees brewed by an on-site barista. Adidas’ newly expanded headquarters in Portland, Oregon features a fitness center, rooftop lounge, cafeteria, juice bar and “green roof” covered with vegetation.

For brands that want to inspire without breaking the bank, simple additions like potted plants could add a “naturally therapeutic” feel to an office, Gonzalez said. Rearranging existing furniture to make a space more inviting and collaborative is another cost-effective solution, Rowley said.

“The immediate thing is to rethink the way you are disposed,” he said. “For example, if you have four cubicles that are going to be empty, can you flip them over and buy a few bean bag chairs and create a space where people can collaborate?”

people matter

It’s true that many corporate workers have come to appreciate remote work. But more than the ability to answer emails in their pajamas, what they crave most is the flexibility to use the office – and their working hours – in a way that makes sense to them. González said.

One of the things corporate employees appreciate most about working from home is that they no longer have to deal with the wasted time and stress of a commute. But, in the two years since the pandemic began, many workers have been conditioned to fill what was once their commute time with extra work, Rowley said.

The new from Neiman Marcus

Companies requiring a predominantly remote corporate workforce to return to an office (even a few days a week) need to be aware of the new trade-offs they are creating and adjust people’s responsibilities and deliverables in a way that is beneficial and rewarding for both sides, experts say.

For example, on the days an employee arrives, their responsibilities may need to shift from difficult deliverables like preparing a PowerPoint presentation or a spreadsheet to a simpler task like being there for a one-on-one meeting. with a manager.

While not new offerings, perks like (good) coffee and a free lunch once in a while, as well as face-to-face meetings with team members, especially senior leaders, still come a long way, experts say.

“You can order bagels once a week or do a mid-week coffee as a team perk,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve been discussing bringing in a masseuse to give people massages quarterly – it depends on how far you want to go.”

More important than what’s in the office is who’s there. At the top of the list are managers, directors and senior executives who should set the tone and make themselves available to mentor young talent as well as other team members who have missed important rituals in the workplace. due to the pandemic, Rowley said.

“If you want people to come into the office to use it together, there has to be a reason,” Severson said. “When they leave, they need to be like ‘wow, I just did something that I could only do here with other people in this physical space.'”

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