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Walk into Mazda’s new headquarters at 200 Spectrum Center and visitors are immediately struck by its unique design. The vertical campus covers five floors and features cutting-edge custom materials, creative lighting and an elegant color palette, marrying elements from the brand’s Japanese heritage with a nod towards the future. But there’s more to this new workplace than just a sleek appearance.

Mazda crowdsourced major design decisions straight to their employees, getting input on everything from desk chairs to cold brew coffee. The result is a space that intentionally fosters collaboration and innovation, and puts employees in control of how, when and where they work. Here’s what Mazda learned:

 

1. No food at desks. Employees overwhelmingly voted against mixing work and meals, at least at their desks. The “no food rule” encourages employees to take a break from work during a busy workday and to dine in the communal lounge spaces. These spaces bring employees together from across the company, facilitating connections that otherwise would never happen during the workday.

Cafe Three Waves, for example, is intentionally located in the nexus of the vertical campus to spark conversation. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the full-­time barista produces aromatic espresso drinks using a cold ­brew technique straight from Kyoto, the CEO’s hometown.

 

 

 

2. Optionality matters. Mazda’s employees begin each day by deciding where they would like to work. They can choose virtually any location based on their needs at that given moment. Options abound, including pneumatic standing or seated desks, a communal workbench, and collaborative lounge space tucked into bright corner window areas.

 

 

3. Form and function coexist. Mazda prioritized the selection of furniture that was both aesthetically pleasing and functional. For example, employees tested 10 different chairs, before making their final choice. Employees were also behind the decision to opt for a pneumatic desk, so they could seamlessly switch between standing or sitting, depending on their needs.

In the lounge spaces, the stylish mid-century furniture is intentionally grouped into multiple arrangements, allowing for quieter one-on-one conversations and informal team meetings.

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