The Leader Magazine

MAR 2018

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t H e le A de R MARCH 2018 47 L arge corporations face many unique workplace- facility challenges. This is especially true of those that expand rapidly within short periods. To be successful, corporations must be willing to look beyond adding real estate and take a good look at how effectively they are using their current real estate. Doing so can bring immediate benefits to their existing real estate portfolio, more accurately reveal acquisition needs, and eliminate the endless cycle of planning inefficiencies and corporate dollar waste. One recent example of a forward-thinking partnership emerged when global healthcare provider Fresenius Medical Corporation North America (FMCNA) engaged national workplace designers Dyer Brown Architects to strategically assess, reconfigure, and redesign its campuses in the Greater Boston region. Two years into the client/architect partnership, the program has already produced notably positive results, both quantitative and qualitative. Creating a corporate design partnership Addressing a workplace footprint of hundreds of thousands of square feet might appear to be a daunting task, but the benefits of a clearly defined approach to physical realignment offers short- and long-term rewards and opportunities. Beyond intangibles such as bolstering the corporate culture and potentially increasing productivity and employee satisfaction, a holistic facilities strategy will help the real estate leadership team plan for and manage future expansion and timelines. The key words here are holistic and timeline: Instead of tackling individual programming changes and upgrading facility spaces one at a time, the team can adopt a more forward- thinking approach by partnering with a knowledgeable architecture-and-interiors firm specializing in corporate workplace design and planning. Fresenius and Dyer Brown embarked on this kind of partnership to create a long-term, holistic approach to generating proactive return on investment (ROI), and to maximize opportunities to reorganize, create efficiencies, and plan for growth. A comprehensive workplace strategy addresses the physical footprint as a whole, avoiding obstacles to optimal performance such as isolated departments or employees, deteriorated community cohesion, or a diminished company culture. The associated impacts of such a strategy on the sense of shared purpose among employees can distinguish a company from its competitors, spur innovation, and yield optimal outcomes, all of which affect a company's bottom line. Using space as efficiently as possible assures a company that its real estate budget is working to its highest and best use. Problem-solving with targeted services Prior to this partnership, the presence maintained by Fresenius in the suburbs of Boston – specifically Lexington and Waltham, Massachusetts – grew so rapidly that department heads struggled to accurately report their departments' growth. A lack of a cohesive organizational strategy led to peculiar complications, including one department of 17 employees being spread across four floors of one building. Recognizing the need for improvements, the senior director of building operations and real estate at Fresenius opted to engage Dyer Brown to address many of these issues and to lead a long-term process of renovation and reconfiguration. Dyer Brown was selected in part because of the firm's corporate services offerings: ongoing consultation and analysis, and integrated interior design, architecture, and branding for clients with significant real estate portfolios. Dyer Brown initially conducted a series of discussions to determine employee needs for working more effectively, and then produced a strategic plan to bring critical elements together. Project designers focused these initial interviews on two questions. The first was, "How does Fresenius want to be perceived by its employees, shareholders, and clients?" To avoid fixing what wasn't broken, the designers and architects asked the follow-up: "Where is it already working best?" The company's answers to these questions became a roadmap for a physical transformation reflecting the new vision. Dyer Brown led visioning sessions and conducted tours of other clients' workplaces with programs and amenities worth emulating. They worked to quantify the strategy by rethinking current standards of real estate used by Fresenius. Using measured square- footage areas of every building and floor Fresenius occupied, Dyer Brown initiated a step-by-step planning process for each space to determine optimal program and layout. By quantifying the percentage of gains in area efficiencies, the design team established measurable square-foot-per-person comparisons between the current real estate usage and the proposed strategic approach. Applying new workplace standards, the proposed transformation included reducing the number of standard private office sizes from four to three while lowering the per-employee average of 180 square feet (16.7 sq.m.) for private offices to less than Photo by Darren Hunter, courtesy Dyer Brown

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