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Free lunches, golf simulator among perks at LinkedIn's new Omaha building
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Free lunches, golf simulator among perks at LinkedIn's new Omaha building

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The complex is the company's fourth-largest in North America.

OMAHA -- Omaha’s fast-growing LinkedIn team moved into a new home Monday — greeted by frills that include walking trails, outdoor terraces, a golf simulator and a food court that serves free lunch.

The 200,000-square-foot complex near 132nd and Pacific streets was tailored specially for the Microsoft-owned business and social networking site, and it becomes LinkedIn’s fourth-largest work base in North America.

With ample meetup spots, nooks intended to spark creativity and other employee perks such as workout and resting rooms, the facility is expected to help retain and recruit talent.

Already, the giant tech company’s local workforce has grown from about 600 two years ago to 1,000 today, and could grow to 1,200 within a year, said Hobson Powell, vice president of global support, who leads the Omaha office.

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Those numbers put LinkedIn among the Omaha area’s 35 biggest employers, according to Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce data.

Powell said that creating an inviting work environment has become even more relevant since COVID-19 changed work schedules and attitudes.

At LinkedIn, he said, workers will continue to have a choice of working at the office, from home or a combination of both. Employees must be vaccinated if they choose to be at the office.

And while flexibility is important to the LinkedIn culture, “we also know great things happen when people get together in person.”

So, he said, the new facility was designed with a goal of being different and alluring: “What is compelling about coming into the office? How do you make that compelling?”

The five-story complex — marked by signs of LinkedIn’s blue and white “in” logo — joins the Sterling Ridge redevelopment site also acclaimed for the globally unique Tri-Faith spiritual campus. LinkedIn leases the complex from Lockwood Development.

Elsewhere on the former 153-acre golf course are housing, retailers and headquarters of other employers.

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Monday was the first time that many remote LinkedIn workers left their home setups for the office. Some had been reporting at least part time to their previous worksite near 90th Street and Western Avenue, but the new digs will draw people like Deanna Hizon to the office more often.

“There’s a feeling of excitement and collaboration in the air that I draw so much energy from,” said Hizon, manager of global escalations. “And, of course, there are the amenities.”

Among changes that employees noticed at the new worksite, which was announced almost three years ago, is the layout for employees. Instead of assigned desks, teams report to their respective “neighborhood” or shared area, where they can assemble as a team, sign on to a computer or hide away in a booth to do quiet work.

At the end of a shift, employees can store their materials in a personal locker.

The neighborhood concept is a response to hybrid work schedules.

“In a world where not everybody is coming in on a given day, it doesn’t make sense to have assigned desks,” Powell said.

To be equitable and inclusive to remote workers, he said LinkedIn offers virtual options.

The new facility also pays homage to Omaha’s history and diversity with meeting rooms named after local organizations and innovations such as the Omaha Star, el Museo Latino, Runzas and Reuben sandwiches.

Dotting the facility is Omaha memorabilia, such as seats from the old Rosenblatt Stadium.

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It contains a hall where community members and nonprofits can meet for free.

And throughout the grounds are elements promoting sustainability and employee wellness. Solar canopies in the parking lot, for example, provide 13% of the building’s power.

Access to outdoor space and emphasis on wellness was important in designing the facility, said senior design manager Virginia Alexander.

Omaha’s LinkedIn story began in 2007, when the then-fledgling website where people posted résumés hired a dozen people to run its new customer service center in Omaha.

The local workforce still focuses on customer support, but expanded opportunities include jobs in marketing, legal and engineering and more for the worldwide network, which has grown to 800 million members. LinkedIn has about 16,000 workers in all.

Powell said the new office has been an energizer.

“It’s been exciting for everybody,” he said. “We want to make it inviting and a place people want to come to.”

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