There's something about those cool graphics, iPads embedded in the walls, computer-controlled window shades, foosball tables and color-coordinated furniture that makes business sense.
Yes, the 200 TD Ameritrade employees who are testing out the company's new Omaha headquarters building might be wearing their coats in their cubicles until 1,450 of their colleagues join them over the next month and warm up the place.
Yes, Emily Hardy has scoped out a route from the parking lot to her office that runs through the cafeteria so she can pick up her coffee on the way to her job in internal communications.
Yes, construction manager Del Reibold is happy to be within a few months of completing the project, which began in 2008 when the online brokerage company announced that it would build a new headquarters in the Old Mill office park by June 2013. “We're a little bit ahead of schedule.”
But behind it all is the belief that investing nearly $200 million in TD Ameritrade's coming-of-age building — all 12 floors and 530,000 square feet, 1,760 parking spaces, 5,000 lighting control sensors and futuristic “green” features — will be good for business.
“Our associates are very excited about it and looking forward to it,” CEO Fred Tomczyk said. “It's long overdue.”
He said moving into the new building won't have an immediate effect on the company's financial performance, but employee morale is sure to get a boost.
“Over time that tends to show up in customer satisfaction,” Tomczyk said. “We believe quite strongly that to have customers feel good about you, you have to have the associates feel good about you, too, and the work environment is part of that.”
TD Ameritrade's leases on the aging Southroads Mall in Bellevue and other spread-out offices are expiring, and it has subleased one of the offices to a medical services company. It will continue to lease three other Old Mill locations, creating an office campus and bringing all of its Omaha employees within walking distance of one another for the first time.
The new headquarters is the only building that TD Ameritrade will own, Reibold said.
About 300 employees will move into the building today, and every week hundreds more will arrive. They'll find a fitness center with equipment that can store an exercise routine on a computer chip. Take the chip to another TD Ameritrade office elsewhere in the country, and the machines will pick up the same settings.
Some of the floors have large classrooms, since employee training is important. Other rooms are flexible for different functions, including some that can be nearly blacked out for multimedia presentations. There's room for more people, too, up to 1,800 with the current configuration.
Outdoors there's access to the Big Papio Trail, a full basketball court and a sand volleyball arena. “Green” features include solar panels, five electric car charging stations, four wind turbines and a roof with plantings. There's talk of having baristas on duty and Xbox sets in the game room.
Hardy looked around at the cafeteria's food stations on one side and rows of tables and chairs on the other, and she smiled. “I'm excited for the pizza area.”