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Grab Coffee, Lounge Or Play Bocce In BNY Mellon’s New Open Work Space

Sarah Schneider
90.5 WESA

Downtown-based investment company BNY Mellon is one of many large organizations trying to change what it means to go to work by providing some of the comforts of home. 

The company opened a new Innovation Center on Monday on the 12th floor of its Grant Street office. 

Employees sat on Adirondack chairs and picnic tables near a bocce court and large windows. Nearby, a kitchenette sat filled with coffee and snacks. Those spaces are what Jen Wagner, head of the Pittsburgh Innovation Center, called collision points.

“I might bump into you there and say, 'Hey, I meant to ask you about such and such meeting, have you got those minutes together?’ Or whatever,” she said. “It gives you an opportunity to continue doing business but it’s more engaging and fun.”

The Innovation Center was designed to encourage communication and collaboration among the Pittsburgh location’s 7,000 employees.

There are huddle rooms, which act as small conference rooms equipped with toys to help employees exert idle energy during meetings.

Some research indicates when an employee checks email or their phone during a meeting, it can take a few minutes to regain focus. That’s why the company put toys like Legos and K’nex in those conference rooms. Wagner said the toys give employees something to do with their hands and helps them focus.  

“A lot of times when you’re in a meeting, you might be fiddling, you might be doodling, you might check your phone and get distracted," Wagner said. "The whole point of little gadgets is it gives you something to do with that idle energy that you have during a meeting.”

There is also a quiet area to help employees refocus -- and there are no assigned desks.

“Employees can choose where to sit that week or day based on what they are working on and who they are working with,” she said. “Something as simple as increasing proximity of project team members can dramatically increase productivity and creativity. It allows for real-time ideation, continuous iteration.”

Wagner said its all part of a switch to better collaboration between teams and departments and creating an environment that promotes productivity.