Lendlease unveils innovative new office in Nashville

13 Jun 2017

When Lendlease rolled out its group workplace strategy in the Americas, the Nashville office wasn’t sure what to expect. Accustomed to closed offices and cubicles, suddenly they were envisioning cramped tables full of millennials in hoodies hunched over laptops. But in June 2017, you can step into Lendlease’s new office on Demonbreun Street in Nashville’s up-and-coming Gulch neighborhood and see that something unique is going on.

There’s an energy in the air and a bounce in everyone’s steps. Teams engage with each other and people with busy travel schedules go out of their way to spend more time at home base. And that’s because team-based workplaces – a solution developed by Lendlease in Sydney, Australia and currently being unveiled in the United States in Chicago, New York, Charlotte, and Nashville – really works. 
Krista Sprenger, the Americas General Manager of Workplace, is overseeing rollout in the US and noted, “Lendlease’s mission has been to create the best places. When it comes to offices, a workplace should proactively enable the company and its people to be the best they can be at what they do. This is the workplace philosophy we offer to customers, including ourselves. 

“For us and the way we work collaboratively, a team-based approach empowers our people to innovate and create. Our Nashville office shows we live the vision we strive to provide for others.” 

A new way of working 

A guiding principal of Lendlease’s new offices is that they enable collaboration by breaking up offices into small, team-sized neighborhoods that accommodate a range of activities. The strategy is more than a fit-out; it’s about rethinking the office as a strategically fluid space designed to encourage meaningful interactions within and between teams – as well as foster a healthier, more sustainable, more productive workplace. 
Claire Johnston, Head of the Americas Communities business, was an advocate from the beginning, but even she’s been pleasantly surprised at how effective the transition has been: “Looking back, it’s hard to believe we were worried about adapting. But we put a lot of effort into creating the space and in shifting to habits more conducive to collaboration and wellbeing – and to their credit, our people were quick to embrace the overall workplace strategy once they experienced it for themselves.” 
The Nashville neighborhoods have their own array of individual and group working options, from adjustable desks and focus zones to collaboration spaces and breakaway areas to a range of phone and conference rooms. PC-based phone apps, wireless conferencing technology, and paper-independent practices also ensure team flexibility.  
From a health and wellbeing perspective, the office overall is sunlit and full of green. The buzzy social hub offers an unobstructed view of the downtown skyline and is loaded with healthy snack and beverage options, while the den and wellness rooms offer employees spots to get away and reboot their brains. The office is also seeking LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. 
But none of the physical elements would work without the cultural aspect. Nextplace’s Director of Change, Tim Allen, said, “Working with teams before the physical implementation was key. People had a chance to give input on the design. More importantly, though, they participated in our TeamFit Challenge, our proprietary, web-based support tool that enables teams to talk about and understand behaviors that make the new environment work. It reduces anxiety, creates buy-in, and allows teams to make strategies for their own neighborhoods.” 
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A part of the community 

While these innovative offices are part of a global company initiative, the offices suit local needs. The Nashville business, for instance, has a unique operational makeup. It’s the home of both the Americas Communities business, focused primarily on sustainable military and student housing, and the Healthcare Development business. Both include a number of projects spread out around the country, so workplace flexibility is a particularly important priority. 
Additionally, Lendlease strives to be a part of local communities. According to Meryl Exley, Director of Marketing in Nashville, “This new office is a shining example of our company culture and our vision to create the best places. 

“Our location in The Gulch, a fast-growing and pedestrian-friendly neighborhood close to downtown, reinforces our healthy living initiative, focus on innovation, and commitment to the city of Nashville.” 
The office has flourishes that reflect the local Nashville spirit, whether it’s the benches made from railway ties or the letterpress typography on the walls. Adam Quagliano, Creative Director, Americas, believes the space needed to reflect Nashville’s vibrance. 

“There’s an immense amount of creative energy here and the city has grown rapidly in the past decade. Our new backyard in The Gulch is the center of great restaurants, modern residential buildings, hip people, and some of the biggest companies in the US. But it’s also anchored by one of the most famous bluegrass venues in the world. It’s that contrast of new and old that makes Nashville interesting. It’s important that the essence of that spirit made it into our new home.” 
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A huge hit 

The office has been such a success that it’s electrified the rest of the Americas business. People who visit become enthusiastic ambassadors when they go home – and the lessons from the Nashville transition have provided valuable insight into Lendlease’s first wave of team-based workplaces in Chicago, New York, and Charlotte. 
“Any change is going to have its challenges,” Claire Johnston said, “but we’ve created a new, dynamic business as usual in Nashville – and the results are hard to argue with. It’s just a really nice place to be. We’re a better partner to the neighborhood and we’re a healthier, happier, and more effective group of teams.” 
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