In January, local insurance industry and software services provider TCube Solutions announced its investment of $1.7 million to move into 25,000 square feet of workspace at the First Base Building at the Commons at BullStreet development.
After 10 months, and an acquisition by Capgemini, the company is now doing business in its state-of-the-art space, which spans the entire third floor. Columbia interior design company McWaters helped design what Bentley Murrell, director of insurance for global business consulting firm Capgemini, called the future of offices.
“It’s the most advanced, modern and ergonomically designed office I’ve seen,” Murrell said. “It’s all about collaboration and giving our workers ample opportunities to come together. Folks these days aren’t interested in working in a cubicle. They want a place where they can take a timeout. People have a little bit of a swagger when they walk through the halls.”
The group is moving from the building that housed the USC-Columbia Technology Incubator program. TCube was started in 2007, but grew over the next decade to take over parts of four floors of its former building.
“The incubator is designed for small companies,” Murrell said. “It allows you to get big enough to cut your teeth, and then you move out. It probably should have happened three years ago. TCube outgrew them.”
Sandy McGuckin, senior director of Capgemini Americas, said the new space gives employees what they need to do their jobs.
“Capgemini is office-centric. Anytime you run into someone in the hallway, if you need to collaborate about something, it’s designed so a room or space should be right there for you to sit down and talk,” McGuckin said. “That’s something that we need. We thrive on it. We need that cohesion, and the space makes it more natural.”
The setup is different from a traditional office space. McGuckin said she wanted to make sure all the offices were interior, so that every office would have a view. She credited that initial idea to TCube Solutions president and CEO Sam McGuckin.
“That was Sam,” she said. “He said we needed to have an open concept. That was his vision. The way we are structured, you’re with your team, so there is easy access to meet and share ideas while still being able to sit at your own desk to do your work.”
Murrell and McGuckin say the workspace is comfortable but motivating.
“There’s no such thing as being too laid-back. Our productivity is consistently high here,” McGuckin said. “If you’re comfortable, you’ll pound out so much more work. That’s human nature.”
Murrell said slacking off is not an option because of the accountability each employee feels working with his or her respective team. He said more and more companies are looking to use the open concept.
“This is probably the coolest, most advanced office in Capgemini’s global presence. It’s been unique,” Murrell said. “I thought it would be harder for the older folks, like myself, to adjust. We have a mix of older guys and younger guys. We’re training the next generation of insurance IT experts. There aren’t a lot of walls, and it’s designed to be that way. We want everyone coming together.”
McGuckin said she hopes employees will feel ownership of the new building, and have a sense of pride about coming to work.
“They have created a culture here, and it comes through,” she said. “People want to come here and work.”
Murrell wants to see the building used as a recruiting tool, not only to bring in new talent but to retain the employees already working there.
“All of our people are in high demand – some from competition in town, some from around the world,” Murrell said. “You’ll find our turnover to be much lower than the industry (average). We’ve been promising them for months about this great new work environment, and we have that.”
With more development planned at BullStreet, Murrell said he wants Capgemini to be an anchor for the property and to continue to grow as the neighborhood expands.
“Capgemini is a global IT company, so we’re pushing very hard to bring more business into this area,” Murrell said. “We would love to someday possibly take another floor. We have (coworking space) SOCO right here and would love for this to be an IT hub. There’s a great talent pool for us in Columbia.”
This story first appeared in the Nov. 20 print edition of the Columbia Regional Business Report.