Earlier this year, First American unveiled a renovated building at its Santa Ana, California headquarters. The space has been a destination for collaboration on the corporate campus, leveraging innovative technologies while fostering the company’s people-first culture.
First American Chief Information Officer Geraldine Ramezani shares her insight on how the new space is meeting the needs of employees today, while driving creativity, innovation and productivity for the business.
“We know that our behaviors have changed, and that the workplace has moved beyond the traditional business design and format. As a company competing for some of the best tech talent in the country in an already tight labor market, we leaned into this shift, focusing on how to leverage it and move our business forward.”
First American Chief Information Officer Geraldine Ramezani at the ribbon cutting for newly renovated office building that integrates modern workplace principles.
Question: Why must all workplaces across industries – including title insurance – be flexible?
"Our motto here at First American is ‘People First.’ Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been actively listening to, and surveying, our employees. One thing became abundantly clear – when we bring people back to the office, we must be able to mirror their working conditions at home and provide flexibility to accommodate new work behaviors people have adopted, while understanding how to make the best use of the time we have together in person. We know that our behaviors have changed, and that the workplace has moved beyond the traditional business design and format. As a company competing for some of the best tech talent in the country in an already tight labor market, we leaned into this shift, focusing on how to leverage it and move our business forward.”
Question: What are some important considerations for a productive workplace?
"The pandemic proved that many people could work just as, if not more, productively at home. Yet, we know that bringing our teams together in person has important implications for culture and collaboration. We had to think about how best to balance these two truths in our office space. Within our renovated Business Technology Solutions (BTS) building, we have mimicked a university setting to promote a learning culture. This includes our iLabs with flexible seating and layout that can be customized for the needs of your meeting. We implemented our remote technologies, so teams working on different schedules could still participate in virtual meetings while in the space. The design of the space incorporates bright colors and graphics to inspire creativity. We also thought about the health and wellness expectations of the modern workplace, installing standing desks throughout that can be reserved through a hoteling concept.”
Comfortable meeting space at First American’s newly renovated office building that integrates modern workplace principles.
Question: How does First American build its culture in flexible work environments?
"It was important to think critically about why we are bringing people back to the office. As we know, many are just as productive at home, so it is essential to provide compelling reasons to gather teams together in the office. Coming in to sit at your own computer all day and take meetings with other teams across the country is not the best use of our space. We’d rather our employees plan team meetings, ideation sessions, and participate in all-hands meetings when together. Within those meetings, we are also experimenting with creative ways to engage employees through team-building activities. First American’s workforce is very generationally diverse. Many Gen Z employees have started their careers remotely and this may be their first introduction to the office, whereas other generations are now reveling in the fact that their commute time has diminished or disappeared entirely. Our newer employees also may not understand First American, or our culture, as well as those who have been with us for several years. We designed the space with all groups in mind, bringing them together through mentorship opportunities and activities. What many refer to as ‘water cooler conversations’ have evolved as well. We wanted to create a stimulating environment that allows for socialization and ideation outside the confines of a traditional meeting. For example, our game area encourages people to gather in between meetings, mirroring the ability to take a break, like many do while working from home. Encouraging spontaneous conversation helps us better understand our colleagues and their frames of reference.”
The game room at First American’s newly renovated office building that integrates modern workplace principles.
Question: How does this new space benefit First American overall?
"We see the new BTS building as not just a departmental asset, but a company-wide asset. We invite other teams to come collaborate, utilize the technology and make connections across divisions. The space has been fertile ground for us to leverage our collaboration technologies, seamlessly connecting with our teams across the globe. We are able to host ideation sessions, provide immersive training for both local and remote talent, as well as provide open areas to connect, brainstorm and even have fun in our gaming area. The work the First American BTS team is doing helps foster creativity and innovation across the entire company. This is just the beginning. We are impassioned by the possibilities we can bring to life in this modern workplace to drive our business forward.”