Creating Space for a Changing Workforce, Part 2

Dell redesigns the work space to bring people together and create a culture of conversation.

Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, Flip or Flop, Grand Designs…the hottest trend in television these days is makeover shows. There’s something incredibly watchable about seeing an outdated structure rebuilt to fit modern lifestyles and tastes. At Dell Technologies, we’re doing our own kind of makeover; we’re transforming our workplace for thousands of employees.

In a previous blog, we discussed how we’re in the process of turning our buildings into state-of-the-art environments. In that article, we focused on improvements to the dining areas and café spaces. Now, we’ve made the next move – preparing for the future of work by making our workplace into more than just an office. We see it as a tool, a force that can actively inspire our employees. To do that, we envisioned a workspace with more interaction and more freedom.

Freedom of Choice

“Options like remote work and telework are now part of Dell’s DNA,” said Dawn Longacre, Dell’s Global Workplace Strategist. “When people have the option to work from anywhere – home, Starbucks or wherever – when they come into the office, it’s with a specific purpose.”

Today’s technology – laptops, skype and smartphones – allow us to skip the commute and handle our affairs from afar if we choose. However, the realities of business still require in-person meetings. When employees do venture into the office, we wanted to maximize opportunities for face-to-face encounters. “Once they’re here, we set up a lot of opportunity for ad-hoc happenstance meetings,” said Dawn. “If I’m walking down the hall and see someone I want to catch up with, we can grab a seat, talk for a few minutes and that way we’ve saved twenty emails.”

To encourage even more impromptu meetups, we’ve built well-lit collaboration parks with a variety of seating in all four corners of our building. Employees can also enjoy new lounge setups with plush couches and easy-to-use monitors, or slide into the restaurant-style booths for a comfy, tucked away spot to talk.

Come Together

Collaboration is a key factor in a productive and innovative work environment. A recent study reported by Forbes magazine found that companies that promoted collaborative working were 5 times as likely to be high performing.

To foster more collaboration, we’ve created common spaces that encourage different groups of employees to gather naturally. New white board walls and group seating might lead to ‘purposeful overhearing’ as Dawn phrased it. “Hey I don’t mean to eavesdrop,” she imagined how a scenario might play out, “but you hit on something I’m working on. Can we chat about it?”

“Companies of our size always have duplication of effort,” she added. “We don’t want to work against each other. Our big hope is to combine people who might not normally interact.”

Get Up, Stand Up

Maybe you’ve heard the alarming slogan, ‘sitting is the new smoking’. Whether it’s hyperbole or not, it has been proven that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for us. To remedy this, we’ve outfitted the new space with multiple treadmill desks and exercise bikes with attached monitors. They’re perfect for fitting in a quick workout between conferences, or just getting the blood pumping before a big presentation.

If you’re not in the mood to sweat over spreadsheets, all new desks offer variable height settings with the touch of a button. Previously, standing desks required additional equipment or adjustments from the facilities team. Now, you can alternate between standing and sitting setups in mere seconds.

To battle stress – another possible danger to our health – we’ve built multiple gaming areas in each building. “The gaming areas gives people a place to decompress,” Dawn said. “There are ping pong tables and private rooms with VMware systems and XBOX.”

For plain old peace and quiet, the new layout includes multiple serene breakrooms. “These are places where you can find respite, where you can collaborate while you eat lunch, but they’re places where people actually go,” Dawn said. “They are a great place to get away if you don’t want to think about emails or just have a cup of coffee with a coworker.”


Ultimately, it’s up the employees to discover a building’s true purpose. While the updates are based on years of research, focus groups and employee surveys, “we’re always curious to see how people will actually use the spaces,” said Longacre.

To the employees already on site, these changes have had a noticeable impact on the culture at Dell Technologies. Taking a quick walk through our Round Rock 1 headquarters, one can hear a chorus of conversations, view bustling hallways and read white boards full of scribbled brainstorming. With new studies showing that face-to-face interaction is important to attracting millennial and Gen Z workers, the remodel is proving its worth.

This article is the second in a series about transformation on Dell Campuses around the world.

About the Author: Peter Hofstad

Peter Hofstad is a copywriter and journalist living in Austin, TX. For more than a decade he’s covered the rapidly evolving intersections of business and technology. Currently, he serves as the lead copywriter for the Commercial Content Studio, a social-media focused department of Dell Blue, supporting the Client Solutions Commercial team.