Case Study

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 660+ million users worldwide. To support its mission of connecting the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful, LinkedIn relies on a global network of teams. Each team supports LinkedIn’s vision to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.

Location

Sunnyvale, California

Project Specs

Area: 90,000 sq. ft.
Stories: 2
Occupants: 500 +

Objective

Understand, Experiment, & Evolve

When LinkedIn leaders considered what to do with an unused building at the 1101 Maude Ave. location on their campus, they saw it as an opportunity to gain knowledge and insight, while supporting their people. Using novel learnings from their inhouse Workplace Design Lab and an ongoing research partnership with Haworth, they set out to create a better, more dynamic working environment for their engineers.

Specifically, the design needed to help engineers be more productive, engaged, and happy. It had to foster collaboration among individuals and teams. The space had to give people flexibility and choice in the ways they work and interact. Lastly, the space needed to inspire creativity and innovation, while reflecting LinkedIn’s culture and values.

Solution

Research – The First Step in Understanding Needs

In a collaboration with Haworth’s Client Design Studio, LinkedIn opened their Workplace Design Lab at 845 Maude Ave. in 2018. In this working lab, their Global Workplace Strategy team conducts ongoing research and experimentation to understand and improve the work experience for LinkedIn employees globally. Testing products, concept spaces, and ideas in a contained environment allows the team to learn quickly, iterate, and innovate before rolling out design solutions on a larger scale. Armed with this research and the collective workplace knowledge of both companies, LinkedIn and Haworth strategists went to work on the new engineering space at 1101 Maude Ave.

Together with LinkedIn, we first interviewed leaders and employees to understand the demographics of their engineering population, journey maps of a typical workday, and the teams’ work patterns. Onsite observational research followed, as we watched engineers’ behaviors and nuances in the ways they work—and what it would mean to make changes within their particular space. These findings were then applied to develop and adapt workspaces for the unique needs of LinkedIn’s engineering teams.

Dynamic Team Zones

One key thing we discovered is that the engineering teams work in the context of “neighborhoods,” each comprised of up to 50 people and two or three different teams working together. Within these localized neighborhoods, people needed the flexibility and control to quickly toggle between working as individuals and working as a team.

The solution was to create Dynamic Team Zones, where mobile whiteboards, desks, digital screens, and easels can be quickly reconfigured to support different activities—right within the neighborhood where engineers are already at work. If a team needs to work out a problem collectively, they can simply huddle in an ancillary space where everyone can view a single large screen. When the problem-solving huddle ends, mobile components are reconfigured, and each person returns to workstations that support individual focus work. A neighborhood might be reconfigured multiple times in a single day, or—because the area belongs to the team—whiteboards can be left up indefinitely for days or even weeks of continued work on complex problems.

Spaces Support Myriad Activities

There’s no single space that supports all the ways LinkedIn engineers work. In addition to personal workspaces and Dynamic Team Zones, several other types of spaces help people work, recharge, or just blow off steam and have a little fun. This allows people to flow throughout the building, encouraging movement and offering variety so they don’t feel stuck in one place all day.

Spaces that support collaboration include traditional conference rooms, as well as informal ancillary spaces that are designed to be adaptable with components like mobile whiteboards for impromptu idea sharing. These flexible spaces are suited for many purposes, and their purpose changes based on the needs of the people who use them.

There are also places designed for quiet and privacy. A library where there is no conversation gives engineers a place for uninterrupted focus work, as well as a place to relax, unwind, and recharge. A respite room caters to both meditation and mindfulness. Café booths for uninterrupted conversation are acoustically designed to keep private conversations private. Phone booths for calls and video conferences allow for privacy and keep conversations from disturbing others.

Expansive central areas are often used for hosting large gatherings and other events. A custom staircase with theater-style seating provides a place for people to sit, relax, or have a one-on-one meeting. Community and lounge spaces support a variety of ways of working and taking a break.

A game room and maker space were added to foster creativity and innovation. These unique, playful places also allow people to mentally and physically shift gears for a short time. Sometimes, a game of pinball or experimenting with a 3D printer is the best way for LinkedIn engineers to get out of day-to-day routines.

Adding the Element of Joy

One of the most delightful elements of the engineering building is how the space itself sparks a feeling of joy. LinkedIn’s leaders recognize that people are coming to work for hours at a time. They want employees, as well as prospective employees and visitors, to feel comfortable and connected in a space that aligns with the business’ culture and values.

One way to bring people together is through humor. Décor based on an epic space journey, large-scale attention-grabbing murals in stairways, and wayfinding elements that lean on a vintage comic book feel inspire a sense of happiness. The colorful, eye-popping graphics elicit smiles and laughter, and spark conversations that help strengthen relationships.

Results

A Gateway to Curiosity & the Future

The value LinkedIn places on relationships is evident in their investment in workspaces that create the best experiences for people to do the best work of their lives—spaces that support well-being and allow people the right amount of choice and control over their environment.

From the initial stages of their Workplace Design Lab, when LinkedIn’s leaders pushed themselves to do something they’ve never done before, it was clear that they would gain insights for developing workspaces that better support people now and in the future. The value of the continued research at the engineering workspace reaches far beyond LinkedIn’s Sunnyvale campus. It provides a blueprint for future flexible workplaces that will improve performance for LinkedIn employees around the globe.

With the engineers’ building, LinkedIn launched an exploration that resulted in novel ways to foster collaboration and give people choices in the way they work. It’s a place where people feel like the space is giving them just what they need, at just the right time. The new building also distinguishes LinkedIn as an employer that lives its values. Trying a new approach to develop a flexible, adaptable workplace demonstrates their dedication to learning, iterating, and improving. Everyone, from employees to visitors, experiences something different and unexpected—something personal for themselves. This is the gateway to getting people curious.

“The future for us at LinkedIn is one where we can honestly say that we're creating the best workspaces in the world … I want to be able to say that our workspaces create the best experiences for people to do the best work of their lives.”

Brett Hautop

Senior Director of Global Design and Build, LinkedIn