As Covid Lingers, Mastercard Revamps NYC Offices for a New Era
(Bloomberg) -- Mastercard Inc. has remade a 19th-century building in Manhattan’s Flatiron District for the hybrid era of office work brought on by the global pandemic.
With the new offices, the payments giant will almost quadruple the size of its New York workforce to about 1,000 engineers, technology workers and other employees. As the site neared completion, it began rethinking the design of its meeting spaces amid the pandemic with social distancing and the rise of remote work in mind.
It added telephone booths that allow workers to take video calls privately, and designed new conference rooms that allow everyone -- whether they’re in-person for a meeting, or attending virtually -- to be at eye level with each other.
Mastercard has spent more than three years renovating the building at 150 Fifth Ave., first constructed in 1888 and originally home to a religious-book publisher. While the company kept many of the outside carvings and building finishes intact, it constructed a three-story addition atop the building, which provides space for amenities including a rooftop patio and coffee bar, along with air-hockey and pool tables.
The firm had 281 employees in its former offices just three blocks away, and now has about 700 assigned to the office, with plans for additional hiring. Mastercard has been doubling down on adding engineers as it seeks partnerships with technology giants and startups alike.
“Employee well-being and safety is our top priority,” Nicole Turner, senior vice president of Mastercard’s global technology hubs, said in an interview. “The space was designed to support flexibility, whether that’s hackable spaces or Zoom rooms that make it easier to have a hybrid meeting. This will be very important as we see how the next few months unfold.”
The conference rooms are especially important as Mastercard begins inviting more staff back to its offices. The Purchase, New York-based firm now expects employees to make their way in at least twice a week starting in October, it told them this week, after recently reinstating a mask mandate for workers amid rising cases of the delta variant across the U.S.
The space was tested earlier this month when top executives including Linda Kirkpatrick, Warren Kneeshaw and Craig Vosburg hosted an all-hands meeting with employees attending both in person and virtually.
“We made something that nobody’s ever done before. The mix of the in-room, out-of-room, it’s really hard to get right,” Ed McLaughlin, president of operations and technology, said during a tour of the new offices. “Everyone is a first-class citizen. It’s a level playing field -- everyone is visually equivalent.”
Mastercard, which recently tied executives’ pay to its sustainability goals, will also now welcome visitors to its second floor with a live moss wall that has to be sprayed regularly to keep it hydrated.
With the new space, Mastercard is taking a page from technology giants including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc. as it attempts to bulk up its engineering talent. The firm added bean-bag chairs as well as rooms where employees can escape to play video games or foosball.
“We are not only bringing people back together for the first time in over a year,” Turner said, “but we are also welcoming them to a brand-new space with a lot of exciting features.”
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