Quality Workforce
Challenges
  • Improve employee and contractor safety, especially in light of contractor fatalities in 2010.
  • Transfer knowledge and selectively hire new skills as baby boomers retire.
Opportunities
  • Maintain our reputation as a preferred employer.
  • Improve diversity and effectively manage a multi-generational workforce.
2010 and early 2011 highlights
  • Achieved the best employee safety Total Incident Case Rate in company history, a 40 percent decrease from 2006.
  • Maintained high management and employee engagement, as measured by favorable scores on survey questions.
  • Deployed an improved employee performance management system.

In this Q&A, Dennis Wood discusses the Workplace of the Future design concept that defines our new corporate headquarters, how it reinforces our company’s culture, and how it will change our workspaces in the future.

Photo of Dennis Wood
Dennis Wood
Vice President, Real Estate Services

What is the Workplace of the Future concept?

A: The goal of the Workplace of the Future is to foster a highly creative and productive workforce through open and transformative work environments, complete with energy efficient designs and the latest technologies. The program complements other better-known initiatives — like the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program — by combining energy efficiency and the use of sustainable materials with forward-thinking designs for workspaces and furnishings.

Why is Duke Energy creating the Workplace of the Future?

A: Fresh and energetic environments are vital to our company’s success as we work to attract and retain top talent in today’s challenging and highly competitive marketplace. The move to our new corporate headquarters — the Duke Energy Center, which was awarded platinum-level LEED certification — gave us the perfect opportunity to develop a creative work environment that can be replicated throughout our system, cost-effectively and sustainably. We feel our progressive workplace concepts will help drive innovation, collaboration and creativity throughout our company.

How were sustainable design principles incorporated into the Duke Energy Center?

A: Key workplace design features include more natural light, ergonomic design, a balance of collaborative and individual space, energy efficient water usage, furniture made from recyclable and reusable materials, informal areas for socializing and new technologies.

The Workplace of the Future concept allows for flexibility, too. We developed multiple work “styles” within a common footprint, so that each workspace can be customized as locations and work habits change. The customization is also highly cost-effective and significantly reduces new waste streams.

How have employees reacted?

A: The employee response is overwhelmingly positive. They appreciate the open, community environment, while still having access to private workspaces. In the coming months, we will solicit detailed employee feedback, which we’ll use as we plan for future projects.

Where are the Workplace of the Future design principles being applied?

A: We initially piloted many of the design concepts in 2009 in the renovated Lafayette Operations Center in Indiana. This past year, we used Workplace of the Future elements while renovating parts of the historic 4th & Main building in Cincinnati, the regulated-trading floor at our former Charlotte headquarters and our Governmental Affairs office in Indianapolis. We also applied the design features to our new Cherokee Operations Center in Whittier, N.C.

We are developing a formalized design standard that incorporates both Workplace of the Future and LEED design principles for our various facility types and business operations. We are making a long-term commitment to provide highly functional, cost-effective and sustainable facilities that bring out the best in our employees, wherever they work.

Photo of Tony Gilday
Tony Gilday
Environmental, Health and Safety Professional, New Richmond, Ohio
I’m accountable for the safety of our employees and contractors at three of Duke Energy’s coal plants in Ohio. But, really, we’re all accountable for each other’s safety. We think about this every morning during our safety briefings when we talk about safety on the job and at home. Home safety is important — if our workers are safe at home, they’re much more likely to be safe at work, too.

We hold all-day “human performance” improvement sessions throughout the year. These give us a chance to react to real-life safety incidents. Nearly every participant has experienced an “aha” moment during the training. In fact, one of our vendor partners recently hired its own safety professional in response to one of our sessions. The new hire trains the vendor’s employees on safety issues and performs safety audits. This work will not only benefit our own operations, but other work throughout our communities. Safety is contagious, and this partner really “gets it.”

I look forward to the next phase of our human performance program, which will include our front-line hourly employees and contractors. Because, even though last year’s overall safety statistics were among the best in our company’s history, we cannot and will not lower our expectations for the future.