These days there’s no shortage of startups with artsy offices designed to lure fresh talent into their corner of the tech world. But the financial industry–barring venture capitalists–has been slower to pick up on the trend.
Not so for the private equity firm Atlas Holdings, which recently converted an old barn and private residence into a cozy corporate campus that looks more befitting people who winter in St. Moritz than a bunch of business men in suits. Located in Greenwich, Conn., the office has all of the homey charm of an upscale ski retreat: there’s an open fireplace, a 18-foot pantry table, and a grill and picnic area outside for cookouts. A wooden conference room juts out from the top floor to provide an intimate meeting area with the look and feel of a wood cabin.
The redesign was prompted in part by an effort to attract and maintain talent–particularly young talent. Most of the firm’s employees who are under 30 don’t live in Greenwich, CEO Andy Bursky says. Instead, they commute from Brooklyn, and they have a lot of options when it comes to where to work. A comfortable, enjoyable workplace gives the firm a competitive edge, he says. “[Young people are] so much more mobile and have a much more refreshing view of ‘I’m going to be happy where I’m working.’ We want to be sensitive to that instinct or they’ll find something else to do.”
They also wanted to be sensitive to the amount of time employees spend in the office. When you’re pulling 10- to 12-hour days, work environment is a big factor in employee satisfaction. “We wanted our employees to feel like they’re working from home,” Bursky says.
To create this ‘home away from home,’ the firm hired New York architects HLW along with Workwell Partners, a firm that specializes in furnishing workplaces. “We’ve worked with a lot of private equity firms and it’s usually pretty standard,” Jason Lesizza, a principle at Workwell Partners said. But with this office, the directive was different: create an open, collaborate workspace that people will actually enjoy coming to.
It’s worth noting that the new space has private offices for the firm’s execs, and for all its modern furniture and communal spaces, you still won’t find any ping-pong tables or game rooms. Rather, it strikes a pleasing balance between new ideas of office culture and the more traditional environment of the financial world.