Future of Work

What Apple Can Teach Us About Proving the ROI of your Office

Today, businesses of all sizes are finding benefits from investments in their office space. In our office snapshot series, we took you inside PillPack, Skyscanner, and others to showcase how these businesses are using their space to attract, retain, and engage their talent.

“There is now pressure to prove the ROI of building a new office or improving the space you’re already in,” says Brent Turner, senior vice president of solutions for the global brand experience agency, Cramer. “This pressure is leading to new approaches to deliver value from these investments in two strategic areas. Office spaces are becoming cultural-drivers for a brand’s future products and services as well as assets for their external marketing efforts.”

How Apple Uses Their Office as an Expectation for their Products, Services and Legacy

When it comes to workplace investments, there are perks like expensive coffee machines and ping pong tables, and functional additions such as bespoke furniture to improve collaboration and meeting efficiency. And then there’s the rumored $5 billion that Apple is spending on their new headquarters — the vision of co-founder Steve Jobs.

In their recent feature, Wired magazine takes us inside the new Apple Park. Beyond the well publicized spaceship-like exterior, we are now learning about their custom designed door handles, custom staircases, and pretty much custom everything. In this piece the author asks: “Is Apple Park the arcadia outlined by [Steve] Jobs in his public farewell, or is it an anal-retentive nightmare of indulgence gone wild?”

Apple’s answer is that their investments are meant to inspire their workforce. Quoted throughout the piece, Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief designer, argues that it is not about what goes into the building, but what will come out.

“We’re amortizing this in an entirely different way,” Ive says. “We don’t measure this in terms of numbers of people. We think about it in terms of the future. The goal was to create an experience and an environment that felt like a reflection of who we are as a company. This is our home, and everything we make in the future is going to start here.”

On the other side of the fence, there’s the Barbarian Group, an award winning agency out of New York City. They’ve built an inspiring office that not only looks the part, but has been improved and updated based on how the office is actually being used. They’ve added cork walls to some of their conference rooms, for example, after learning that employees prefer to meet there. And design? They have a tunnel-like meeting space that gives prospective clients and others a glimpse of what inspires them to do their best work.


Office Space as an Asset for External Marketing

When businesses cannot completely overhaul their offices, they often create smaller environments that can showcase and support their efforts around innovation and technology.

“These investments end up with names like Innovation Labs and Experience Centers,” explains Turner. “And they are fantastic showcases for companies that can invite their customers into their facilities. To get the most out of these investments, brands are now looking to bring these workspaces into their external marketing.”

During the 2017 edition of Experiential Marketing Summit (EMS), Danielle Gorman, account director at Cramer, and David Polinchock, a former director of both PwC’s Experience Center and AT&T’s Innovation Lab, took the stage to address exactly this topic. In their presentation they showed examples of the newest environments that brands have invested in and provided recommendations on how these internal office spaces can amplify a brand’s external events and their marketing.

“This is a big trend we have identified. Modern offices have become incubators for high-tech collaboration and organization,” said Gorman. “For example, look at what VSP Global has done with their innovation labs. These are high-tech and beautiful spaces that also make for a great story for their brand. These become assets to marketing that competitors envy and customers love.”

Office Space as Story That Customers Want to Hear

Across the alphabet soup of business focus — B2C, B2B, B2B2C, B2G — most customers and prospects share a common interest: they want to connect with brands that are transparent and authentic. People are looking for genuine connections with the brands they do business with. Outside of business, this is not a new idea. Restaurants have chef’s tables. Musicians have backstage passes. But, in business, it has not been until recently that brands had ‘behind the scenes’ spaces worth showing off.

“While your company may be a few years away from creating the next Apple Park or building out your own Experience Center, there are still many ways to find update your office spaces and elevate the stories from inside your business,” adds Gorman. “The way we see it: The businesses who are making even small investments in the office and collaboration technologies, are seeing an impact on their own products and services, but also quickly finding new stories they can bring into their own marketing. All together, their prospects and customers cannot get enough of it.”

Want to learn more about how we think about the future of the workplace? Read our new eBook here.