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Case Study

A pharmaceutical giant transforms its workplace to enable greater innovation and attract the best minds in the field


​In 2011, a global pharmaceutical giant embarked on a modernization of its R&D headquarters in the U.K. Analysis showed that as a result of an earlier acquisition, the culture was not as unified as the company would like. In an industry where innovation leads to patents and profits, breaking down barriers is more than an employee satisfaction driver. It is actually the path to increased share price and corporate success.

The goal was to create an environment at this location that not only embodied a single culture, but also supported innovation and science. The corporate real estate (CRE) team knew that it could impact this important business goal through a strategic diagnostic, planning and implementation process. The redesign actually mimicked the way the scientific community is set up— divisions located within a science hub to promote collaboration. This involved creating an open environment that enabled communication, cross-pollination of ideas, sharing, faster decision making and innovation. It also built an environment that would attract the best and brightest scientific minds coming out of university, increasing new talent and fresh ideas.

The team developed a scorecard for efficiency, cost and productivity, which revealed that utilization increased from 45 percent to 85 percent. Annual running costs also dropped 40 percent and productivity increased 19 percent. In addition, in a recent earnings announcement, this company reported that its biggest single boost to earnings over the next several years is expected to come from a raft of experimental drugs it is now developing. Anything that the CRE can do to support this effort will directly support the bottom line.

Just as encouraging was the response from employees: “Now I feel like I’m part of an intellectual organization…we are not stodgy but a science-based company dedicated to seeing things in new ways.” In fact, reports the CRE team, the redesigned office has become a reflection of the R&D group. The process they underwent and continue to undergo is very much like the scientific process itself with its continual testing, refinement and enhancements. For a group of scientists who understand that you can’t live by the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” motto, the process just makes sense.

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