Citrix Systems, which produces software that enables a company’s employees to work from anywhere online, also embraces flexibility at its new offices in downtown’s Warehouse District.
For example, the vast majority of the desks used by the company’s 600 local employees are height-adjustable.
Hayley Bushnell, 33, a Citrix project manager, said she definitely prefers working while standing – and does so 75 percent of the time.
“Sometimes you have to sit down,” she said, “if you are wearing heels and your feet hurt.”
Thursday morning Citrix, which last year generated $2.9 billion in revenue and has 9,500 workers worldwide, hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new 171,000-square-foot offices at the intersection of West and Hargett streets. Gov. Pat McCrory and Mayor Nancy McFarlane addressed attendees along with Citrix executives.
The invitation-only crowd of about 200 also had the opportunity to take tours of a space unlike any in the Triangle. Among its features: a two-story living wall with more than 8,00 plants; a rooftop bocce court and eating-and-meeting area; and eight conference rooms fashioned from giant shipping containers. Not to mention a software company’s usual smattering of game tables – pool, pingpong and air hockey.
Those conference rooms, by the way, are named after famous philosophers. Hence the Descartes room and, yes, the Bacon room. (The latter was inspired by English philosopher Francis Bacon.)
Executives at the publicly held company, which has headquarters in Florida and California, say its guiding principle was creating a space that would help it recruit and retain top talent.
“We have a number of state-of-the-art workplaces like this and every time we build one, we take everything we learned from the prior and take it to the next level,” CEO Mark Templeton said in an interview.
The architects who designed the building say they worked to create a bridge between the old and the new by retaining elements of the structure’s former life as a Dillon Supply warehouse. That includes converting train tracks that once ran right into the building into conference tables and preserving a crane as a “visual element.”
“I think it’s really important because it’s context,” said architect John Warasila of Alliance Architecture, which has an office in Durham. “I just think there is a continuity there and I think the contrast of historic and new is a really powerful sort of story.”
Many Citrix employees see the downtown location as a big plus.
Ashton Smith, 28, who has been a Citrix project manager since June 2012, said that she decided to apply for a job after hearing rumors that the company was moving downtown.
“I have always loved the city,” said Smith. She lives just minutes away – to be precise, six minutes, on foot, “if I catch the stoplight.”
When Citrix announced in the summer of 2012 that it would move its Triangle operations downtown from the Crabtree Valley area, it committed to expanding from 130 workers to nearly 470 workers within five years in exchange for more than $9 million in state and local incentives. Today it has 600 workers and is continuing to hire.
“I’m happy to say that, in just two years, we have exceeded that commitment,” said Jesse Lipson, vice president and general manager.
And there’s room for more. Templeton estimated that the Raleigh facility ultimately can accommodate “somewhere around 1,500 workers.”
To be clear, that doesn’t mean that the building will ever be able to handle 1,500 people working at their desks at the same time.
However, many of the building’s work spaces aren’t assigned to any one employee to accommodate workers who may work, say, two days from home and three days at the office. And there is also lots of “shared space” designed to facilitate collaboration.
“We’re always experimenting,” Templeton said. “So some of these shared spaces will evolve into other types of spaces that are very likely to actually increase the capacity of this building.”
Again, it’s all about flexibility.
Citrix entered the Triangle in 2011 when it purchased Raleigh startup ShareFile for $54 million.
Lipson, who founded ShareFile and was its CEO, credited Raleigh Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin with suggesting that the Dillon Supply warehouse could be converted into a nifty space for Citrix.
So here’s something you can file under the it’s-a-small-world category: It turns out that CEO Templeton had first-hand knowledge of Dillon Supply.
Templeton’s first job after graduating from N.C. State University’s College of Design in 1975 was as a draftsman with Hamlin Roofing and Sheet Metal in Garner. Back then, the supplier he worked with for steel and other metals was Dillon Supply.
“It’s a profound thing for me,” Templeton told the crowd. “It’s very, very sentimental, special, and it’s pretty cool.”