Epic Systems Corp. Headquarters
Verona, Wisconsin
Architect: Cuningham Group Architecture, in collaboration with Zimmer, Gunsul, Frasca Partnership

Offices for All

By giving all its employees private workspaces, a giant software company sees large productivity gains.

Verona, Wisconsin—While more and more corporations are embracing open office plans that limit or even eliminate private offices, a healthcare software company here is decidedly bucking that trend—and reporting substantial gains in productivity as a result.

Photo © George Heinrich
At its 385-acre campus, with 1.5 million square feet of space spread across five buildings, Epic Systems Corp. provides private offices for all staff—a choice that is designed to support the focused-work practices and needs of software developers.
Research shows that providing private offices for all staff increases productivity by 40%
An on-campus restaurant keeps 3,300 staffers on campus for lunch, equating to an estimated productivity gain of $70,000/day

At its 385-acre campus, with 1.5 million square feet of space spread across five buildings, Epic Systems Corp. provides private offices for all staff—a choice that is designed to support the focused-work practices and needs of software developers. According to Epic’s own research, this design approach increases productivity by 40 percent.

Of course, fostering collaboration among its employees is also a vital goal, and the design of its headquarters, by Cuningham Group Architecture, features “teaming” areas that attract informal groups with fireplaces and views of the farmland and grazing horses that surround the campus.

Also facilitating interaction—and contributing to the bottom line—is an on-campus restaurant that subsidizes food at $4 daily per employee. Keeping its approximately 3,300 staffers on campus for lunch equates to an estimated productivity gain of $70,000—a day.

Another key design element: a 700,000-square-foot Learning Center, which includes a 5,400-seat auditorium—Wisconsin’s largest—where Epic hosts industry conferences and training events.

As with most software companies, attracting “twenty-something” talent is critical to Epic’s success, and the design specifically caters to this demographic, with an Ultimate Frisbee field, bike and hiking paths, and other amenities that serve well one of the core tenets of Epic’s mission statement, which is "Have fun."

The project’s sustainable qualities align well with another part of the mission statement: “Do good.” The underground parking for 3,700 cars minimizes disturbance to natural vegetation; and 1,576 geothermal wells, 315,000 square feet of green roofing, and the utilization of occupancy and daylight sensors all help cut energy usage.

In combination, all these design features ultimately help make possible the third component of Epic’s mission statement: “Make a fair profit.”

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Written by the editors of HQ, this blog builds on the case studies and cutting-edge research included in the debut issue of the magazine, bringing you regular reports about how senior executives are translating good design into good business.

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Winter 2009 Vol. 1, No. 1

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