News

Nike has a cubicle problem. It's confronting it through a made-up millennial named 'Brooklyn'
Author: Elliot Njus, The Oregonian
Posted: April 15, 2015

Click here for the original Oregonian article.

brooklyn nike

"Brooklyn," Nike's hypothetical real-estate muse, shown on a monitor during a presentation at Portland State University's Center for Real Estate conference on Wednesday. (Elliot Njus/The Oregonian)

Nike has a cubicle problem. 

Claire Farr, the director of business operations for Nike's global corporate real estate team, showed a picture of a Nike cubicle farm to a group of real estate professionals at Portland State University's Center for Real Estate conference on Wednesday.

"It's hard to imagine Brooklyn being inspired by this space," she said.

Hold up. Who's Brooklyn?

Farr was referring to neither the New York borough, nor the neighborhood in Southeast Portland. 

Instead, Brooklyn is a hypothetical "muse" Nike uses to shape its internal conversations about real estate. She's a new employee, or perhaps someone Nike is trying to recruit.

Most importantly, she's a millennial -- part of the generation born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s.

And although Nike is planning for five distinct generations of workers at the company, Farr -- a millennial herself -- said the company is "prioritizing our muse's needs" when considering real estate.

Companies focused on recruiting are ditching the typical cubicle farms for setups that they can show off to potential hires. Tech companies like Google -- also represented on the panel to discuss millennials in the workplace -- are known for offices that eschew the normal desks for counters, cafes and lounges. (Also, free food.)

Brooklyn's influence may very well shape Nike's expansion at its Washington County campus, which will add two office buildings totaling 1.3 million square feet. The expansion was the subject of an emergency legislative session in 2012, when Nike sought assurances the state's tax structure wouldn't change after it doubled down on Oregon.

But it wasn't enough to draw Nike out of suburban Washington County. Even once it had settled on an Oregon expansion, it mulled a site in Portland's South Waterfront before it settled on growing its World Headquarters campus.