The Corporate Campus is Dead! Long Live the Corporate Campus
One of the key innovations in the humanization of the workplace has been the rise of the corporate campus. Although the corporate campus is not a new concept, AT&T created their first one in 1942, one only needs to look at some of the most successful, profitable companies of the 21st century to see how the campus has become hugely human centric. Not only are they havens of collaboration, community, and innovation, they are amenity rich environments that nurture relationships and learning. They provide the physical and technology environments where people create sparks, sparks that lead to explosions of creativity and innovation.
These campuses are rich in hospitality, providing access to all the products and services to remove distractions and help deal with the challenges of day to day life. All the time connecting people with the organization, supporting the creation of a strong culture, and aligning teams with the company’s mission. Much has been written about generational changes, there are many generalizations and stereotypes, yet research has demonstrated time and again that Millennials and Gen Z value a connection to a cause, to a purpose in their work or they will simply move on.
Not only do these campuses provide an amazing truly human environment for business and people to thrive, for large companies they also make financial and rational sense. Allowing for greater density without the feeling of being crowded, making the provision of technology, security, confidentiality, and operational support easier and more efficient. Yet even these super campuses do not meet all of our needs, they do not provide people with all they need to be their best.
The wasted time commuting combined with always on technology lead to a lack of harmony between work and life, disconnecting us from family and friends. Having all teams in one place adds to security and health risks, if one team is impacted all teams are. Talented people are living throughout the world and yet the campus demands centralization with the resulting increase in costs of living and length of commute which causes further hidden costs for businesses.
The insular nature of campuses where people travel on a company bus to a campus work with others at the same time then get back on a company bus to return to home should make us also question whether they are indeed the ideal environment for innovation and creativity. It should make us question their real performance impact as a stand-alone solution. Further, they are only efficient and cost effective for the very largest companies and, even for these companies, the time to build them does not support agility or explosive growth.