The Leader Magazine

JUN 2018

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Workspace as an asset H ow could a family-owned, people-driven technology company, in the middle of a strategic transformation, update its fragmented, outdated and highly structured work environments into a unified, flexible and collaborative headquarters? How might its updated spaces enable employees to do their best work, and drive innovation? What would the right space mean to the company's transformational growth? Vertex, Inc., a provider of tax technology solutions, undertook an extensive, multi-year engagement with both experts and its employees. The purpose was to ensure that the end result meant strategic support for its transformational objectives. Through years of steady growth, accelerated by new product and operational strategies, the company occupied five buildings of its original Philadelphia-area campus. However, due to the expansions it was forced to lease additional space in two other nearby locations. Though the buildings were functional, working among all seven impeded the flexibility needed to accommodate a growing, dynamic workforce and the collaboration needed to push a strategic transformation. Separate buildings were developing diverging cultures, slowly fragmenting the workforce. Further expansion could mean having to engage leases in even more locations, introducing more complexity and increasing costs. Having outgrown its facilities, the company decided to take advantage of the opportunity. A new headquarters could be designed to serve as an asset, helping to accelerate business results. To achieve that goal, factors such as company strategy and evolving workplace dynamics, as well as the corporate values, especially respecting employees, had to be considered. Any plan had to align their needs and the needs of the business to accelerate performance in a new work environment. t he search begins It was a year-long process to create a vision for the next-generation space. Vertex worked with expert learning partner Root, Inc., to engage employees through interactive efforts. The cooperative project created foundations for the workplace approach by establishing connections between corporate strategy and the people and culture supporting it. Once the foundations were determined, Vertex partnered with real estate advisor Cresa to establish criteria by which to measure space attributes against the new vision. Cresa representatives Matthew Feeney and Rick Ybarra extensively interviewed strategy leaders across the company to identify what mattered most to Vertex. Then, using PairWise methodology to help drive consensus, they ranked the identified themes to determine their relative importance. The result was criteria that included scalability, flexibility and cost effectiveness; increased options to collaborate; the ability to attract new employees; and minimal impact to commutes. The Vertex team now The new headquarters was designed as a workplace environment that serves as a valuable asset, a natural driver of innovation and true collaboration — a workplace of choice. F E A T U R E A R T I C L E 26 June 2018 the leader by Lainie Sitko and Jake Kelly

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