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Innovation News

Fifth Third adds innovation center to break down walls within the workplace


A buzzer echoes from a circular gallery space near the entrance of ONE67, Fifth Third Bank’s new innovation center. A group of men and women — the top 100 leaders in the company — aren’t sitting around a board table muttering over “the numbers."

Instead, they’re playing a game.

Incorporating a sense of freedom and fun into the workplace is the idea behind the avant-garde workspace in Fifth Third’s downtown skyscraper. Michael Crawford is the product manager for Momentum, a free app from Fifth Third aimed at millennials to help pay down student loans. Crawford works in ONE67 every day and says the space is meant to stimulate creativity and build community.

Before its opening at the end of August, Crawford describes the space as very 1970s. “You would’ve seen a lot of offices that democratized all of the window space,” he says. “Your position in the company could’ve been determined by how close you were or how much window space you had.”

Partnering Nelson Architects with Fifth Third’s Enterprise Work Services team, the newly designed 15,000-square-foot space redefines what it means to work in an office.

“We wanted to open the space to make it feel welcoming to all, and make it an area where you can always find your own corner based upon your day, your mood, your job and who you’re working with,” Crawford says.



Everything is designed to be mobile. Movable walls run along ceiling tracks in the gallery and can conform the space to fit the needs of employees.



A large barn door closes off the gallery from the "garage space" where employees are free to work, explore, create and even play.

“From here back, all of our walls are white board walls,” Crawford says, stepping through the door. “The team is all about being raw and not about being afraid to make mistakes, which is the whole notion of a white board wall.”

ONE67 has a variety of workspaces, including private nooks with expansive views of downtown, smaller breakout rooms for 2-4 people and “scrum rooms” for larger meetings.



In addition to the unique workspaces, there are approximately 45 traditional standing and sitting desks.

“To be innovative, you have to be edgier,” says Crawford. “On this floor, we’re purposely buying more furniture so people can put their feet up. It’s all designed to conform around you rather than you around the space.”

ONE67 features various “stimuli” throughout the office like mini corn-hole, a sandbox and a foosball table. The stimuli encourage play, teamwork and creativity throughout the day.



“You don’t see people playing for hours on end, but you do see people play foosball for 20 minutes,” Crawford says.



“We’re the only part of the building experimenting with no assigned seating,” Crawford says. While employees don’t have their own desks, everyone has a locker to store personal belongings.



“Having communal places like this where teams can come together and break bread is really important,” Crawford says.



“We’re also using this space to pilot new technology,” says Crawford. “We’re working with some startups in Cincinnati, as well as some large tech firms to say, ‘What will the office of the future be like?’”



ONE67’s library is a dimly lit, quiet area with a more down-tempo atmosphere than the rest of the space. “People can come here to think,” says Crawford. “It has a lot less stimuli and is more devoid of color so it’s supposed to be calmer.”

Though ONE67 is limited to Fifth Third employees for now, Crawford says the company hopes to expand its use in the future. “The vision is to be a space for our partners to come in and co-create with us.”

Photos by Allison Smith Cohen; others provided by Fifth Third.
 

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