Good Workplace Design is Key to Retaining Employees, Says Starbucks Director of Corporate Facilities

According to Tom Hebner of Starbucks, today's workplaces need to embrace the culture of the company while evolving to meet the needs of new generations.
starbucks workplace design

Courtesy Metropolis

This is the third installment of Metropolis’ new video series, The Slant. Each segment features designers, stakeholders, and end-users weighing in on innovative research, dynamic trends, and thought-provoking ideas that promise to change the way we shape and inhabit buildings.


Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee company, has 27,339 stores in 75 countries across the globe, according to its latest financial report. More than 2,200 of those opened this year alone. That’s a lot of caffeine.

But keeping employees energized for such a gargantuan enterprise is another challenge altogether, says Starbucks’s director of corporate facilities and real estate, Tom Hebner. “Attraction and retention is one of the first and foremost issues every company is dealing with today,” he told Metropolis. In Hebner’s experience, innovative workplace design is a key. “We’re trying to take the [workplace] culture and make sure the design embraces the culture of the company,” he said, “and that’s a really delicate balance.”

Creating a visual connection to a company’s roots is one way to strike this balance. The Starbucks corporate headquarters is located in a 1912 Sears warehouse in Seattle. The company took advantage of the building’s massive floor plates and divided each floor into discrete “neighborhoods” for each team, much like the company’s coffee shops.

Designing a workplace that embraces intangible qualities like company culture and values is another matter altogether: “It’s a constantly evolving subject because our workplaces and our generations are changing,” Hebner said.  “I love the fact that I get to play in that sandbox.”

You might also like Corporate Innovation and Workplace Design Go Hand-in-Hand Says Microsoft’s Workplace Strategist.” See other videos from The Slant

Categories: Workplace Interiors

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