Marketing group Millbrook Companies isn’t the first Adland firm to rethink work life post pandemic but the effort it put into creating its new global HQ in Austin, TX, is one of the most stylish and employee-friendly environments you’ll come across.
It also celebrates and preserves the city’s heritage—It’s a 181-year-old property spread across 1.3 acres with multiple buildings that was designed to make employees coming to the office feel like they’re working from home but with the ability to connect with colleagues in person.
In other words, it’s the antithesis to cubicle life.
Millbrook founders Darius Fisher and Jesse Boskoff set out to build the new Austin headquarters for their 10-year-old marketing and communications company three years ago, and in the summer of 2020, they found a property in the Texas capital city built in 1841, making it one of the oldest standing structures in the state.
The founders tapped local design firm McCray & Co. to transform the property – a
residence many times over to Austinites of generations past – into an office that would feel like home to employees.
The property today features:
five separate buildings known as casitas
two pickleball courts with stadium seating
soundproof audio-recording booths
three full kitchens
lush landscaping, including a sunken garden and two fountains
contemporary art by Damien Hirst and Gerhard Richter,
Like I said, definitely not cubical.
Like most firms prior to the pandemic the company did have a "traditional” office before purchasing the 19th century estate. All of Millbrook Companies’ Austin-based employees – about 60 people – regularly work at the new HQ.
But the company continues to deploy a hybrid WFH/Office model with most staffers coming into the office two to three days a week.
The office is also frequently used by out-of-town employees, some of whom visit Austin as often as once every four weeks.
Globally, all employees work from their local office at least twice a week. In addition to headquarters in Austin, the firm has offices in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Munich, London, and Singapore (approximately 150 people across all offices).
“The pandemic gave us evidence that our business runs more efficiently, and our team is, on the whole, happier and more satisfied when they are able to interact and work with each other in person,” said Alissa Santoro, vice president, marketing, the Millbrook Companies. “When surveyed about in-person versus remote work, a majority of our employees reported anonymously that a mix of in-person and WFH would be their preference.”
She added that In-person work seems to be particularly valuable for younger employees who look for mentorship from their peers and supervisors, which can sometimes be easier to develop in person.
Asked about finding historic estate-type settings for employees in locations outside Austin, Santoro replied, “Expansion is definitely on the horizon,” but there are no immediate plans to be discussed publicly.