Tracey Martinez loves a puzzle. That’s not a metaphor—whether it’s a crossword, an online game, or the endless jigsaw puzzles she’s assembled over the years (and is still gifted by her family a few times annually), the workplace design manager for Nokia’s American business line has spent both her career and her free time solving the challenges of what goes where.
“Space planning is a lot like putting those puzzles together,” Martinez explains. “You get to take all of these pieces and figure out the best way to fit them together within a boundary. It’s a puzzle, but we get to do it in 3-D.”
The connection between puzzles and space was made early in Martinez’s life. Growing up, she and her family were surrounded by in-the-works housing developments and would take every opportunity to tour a new space. It led Martinez to an interest in interior design, encountering new materials, new furniture, and new layouts every time she and her family stepped into a freshly constructed home.
Open, Fearless, and Empowered
Martinez has spent the nearly 13 years at Nokia, helping the Finnish-based multinational telecom company optimize its spaces for employees and ensuring that the needs of its people aren’t just being met, they’re being anticipated.
“Nokia has been looking at the future of the workplace and what that means to us as we start to imagine a fully hybrid global workplace where we can provide increased choice and flexibility for our employees,” Martinez says. “That entails strengthening our existing flexible working practices, rethinking the office space by investing in technology to enable that increased collaboration, and continuing to nurture a work culture of open, fearless, and empowered employees.”
These decisions haven’t been made on a whim. Martinez says extensive employee surveying has been imperative in helping chart the future of what a post-pandemic work environment means for global employees. The manager says that surveying and communication helps establish flexible working practices so employees can balance their work and personal lives with trust and accountability. Furthermore, it’s helped guide the process of redesigning office spaces to reflect the needs of employees moving forward.
“As we get the opportunity to build new spaces, we want to really support collaboration when people are in the office,” Martinez explains. “Many of our sites are going to focus on a majority of the office space being allocated to teamwork and meeting space rather than individual workstations.”
From Texas to California
Two different ground-up builds have been able to showcase Nokia’s focus on collaboration, helping bridge Nokia and 2016 acquisition Alcatel-Lucent sites into a cohesive culture intent on empowering its employees in both Dallas, Texas (completed in 2019), and Sunnyvale, California (completed in 2021).
“Our build-up in Dallas was the first time we were able to truly bring those two cultures together under one roof, and it also allowed us to try some new work settings we hadn’t tried before,” Martinez explains.
Freestanding phone booths were installed for teleconferences and serve as a great callback to Nokia’s telecom roots, but most of the space is dedicated to more team-minded work with drop-in desks, project space with AV capabilities and write-on walls, and other open design amenities. Outside the office, access to a lake, a walking trail, and restaurants directly across the office’s street make outdoor work not just possible but encouraged.
States away in Sunnyvale, California, Martinez’s team had a much more complicated project given the ongoing construction occurred during the pandemic. “We had to really rely on our local partners while also utilizing software to monitor interior construction, because we weren’t able to fly out to the site like we normally would have,” explains Martinez, who is based in Dallas.
Yet again, the design team was able to pair collaborative spaces indoors with incredible outdoor opportunities. A 7,000 square-foot terrace provides outdoor seating for town halls and other large gatherings. There is also a bocce ball pit and patio seating for more informal gatherings.
Building Globally, Acting Locally
Martinez says through every project, she feels empowered by her employer. “We’re able to truly challenge the status quo and really ask those W questions: who needs to be in the office, what do our people need when they come in, and so on,” she explains. “We’re able to run pilots and do surveys and continue to think about new ways of answering these questions.”
Given Martinez has had the opportunity to travel to Nokia builds all over the world, there’s no doubt that she’ll continue to bring new ideas and new perspectives to her work for the Americas. Like the model homes she toured as a child, the new materials, new methods, and new cultures all provide a new way to approach the puzzle back home.