Panera Bread’s NextGen design debuted in November 2021, opening just 7.6 miles from the café chain’s first store in Ballwin, Missouri. The 3,500-square-foot model boasts a double-lane drive-thru, updated “Mother Bread” logo, pickup area near the door, and, broadly, a connected and digital-enabled layout that strips friction throughout the ordering process.
Panera brought the prototype to life in partnership with ChangeUp, the same design agency that’s worked with Taco Bell, Jimmy John’s, Panda Express, and Nike on refreshes.
With all of the workplace evolution taking place today, the companies decided to link up again on Panera’s new Boston office. ChangeUp said the goal was to create an “uplifting and flexible” work environment that enables Panera employees to better engage with each other and the brand, and one that more closely reflects how the labor force has changed coming out of COVID-19.
Recent data from Medallia showed 32 percent of workers were currently doing their jobs from home. That number in Q2 2020 was 40 percent and dropped into the low 30s in Q3 2021. Additionally, the third edition of McKinsey’s and Company’s American Opportunity Survey, conducted alongside Ipsos from 25,000 Americans in the spring, found 58 percent of people (that equates to some 92 million workers) said they have the opportunity today to work from home at least one day a week.
Taking this spike of hybrid activity into account, ChangeUp said technology keyed the space. It installed state-of-the-art speakers, sound proofing, lighting, and video capabilities.
There’s room scheduling and back-end technology to power virtual and in-office meetings.
All stations were equipped with sit-to-stand desks and there’s no designated desk areas. ChangeUp also designed hoteling to ensure people coming into the office have the space they need/flexibility to accommodate a full space.
Throughout the office, there are points of connection.
The kitchen, ChangeUp says, allows employees to watch innovations in motion.
There’s a social stream wall at the office café so workers can see what customers are saying in real time about their experiences with Panera.
Other opportunities for employees to connect include an immersion wall. Upon entry, guests and employees observe a hallway stocked with key artifacts, milestones in Panera’s history, and a custom light fixture that lights the path, “symbolizing the bright future ahead,” the agency says.
There are open collaboration areas and lounges as well.
“Following ChangeUp’s work last year on Panera’s next generation restaurant, designing their new Boston office was a natural evolution. We already understood the ins and outs of their brand and business, and were excited at the prospect of creating an adaptable, creative space that allows employees to truly connect. Considering the complexities that exist today in the workplace, it was important we prioritized a tech-forward approach that provided both flexibility and inspiration,” Amanda McAllister, creative director at ChangeUp, said in a statement.