Bringing “SMART Working” to the Philadelphia Navy Yard

Mike LePostollec
In February, global pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) officially moved into a new home at 5 Crescent Drive in Philadelphia’s historic Navy Yard.

Faithful+Gould’s North America Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology group led the program management office responsible for delivery and occupation of this building along with decommissioning GSK’s former office space.

Our engagement comprised certain key elements, including strategic advisory services, design management, project and cost management, scheduling, risk mitigation, communication and change management, sustainability (partnered with Atkins North America) and value engineering, all delivered via workstreams to meet the overall program objectives.

We focus on helping clients like GSK implement business transformation and change. Preparing employees for the move to an agile working environment is a key component to the ultimate success of the program, and it is these efforts which allow our clients to realize the full potential and benefits of their new workspaces.

Iain McWhinney, Faithful+Gould's Senior Vice President

Iain McWhinney, Faithful+Gould’s director for the Navy Yard project and the firm’s senior vice president of the North America Pharmaceutical Sector, said that constructing the physical workplace is often less challenging than changing employees’ mindsets and behaviors. “Faithful+Gould’s Workplace Solutions service is not simply about bricks and mortar,” he said. “We focus on helping clients like GSK implement business transformation and change. Preparing employees for the move to an agile working environment is a key component to the ultimate success of the program, and it is these efforts which allow our clients to realize the full potential and benefits of their new workspaces.”

The new 208,000-square-foot, four-story building showcases the latest evolution of GSK’s work environment principles to create an open, vibrant and collaborative work experience. The entryway features a dramatic glass atrium designed as a high energy gathering area for visitors and employees, complete with a visitors center, coffee bar, wellness center and company store. Energy-efficient glass interior and exterior walls provide ample daylight and offer views of the city skyline. Additional amenities within the building include a fitness center, restaurant, retail services and a rooftop garden. GSK is pursuing a LEED® Platinum level of certification for the building.

The building features open floor-plates with shared work stations for all team members and a range of meeting and social areas. Based around the principles of “communities” or “neighborhoods,” this layout promotes communication, boosts efficiency and has allowed GSK to dramatically reduce its office square footage and associated operating costs. With this project GSK, was able to relocate the entire population of 1,300 employees from its former location in downtown Philadelphia, while reducing its office space by circa 600,000 square feet.

The Navy Yard project is the latest iteration of GSK’s “SMART Working” program, which utilizes agile working environments to meet the changing needs of their business.  GSK adopted the program in response to the realization that due to shifting work patterns and technology advances 85% of its office space was used less than 35% of the time, representing a large unnecessary operating expense. GSK found that agile working environments speed decision-making and increase group effectiveness. For the past ten years, Faithful+Gould has helped GSK implement SMART Working environments at locations throughout the United Kingdom; North, Central and South America; Africa; and Asia. 

In this “workstream,” Faithful+Gould led GSK employees through a structured training program to help prepare management and staff for the move to the Navy Yard. These efforts included facilitation of a series of town hall style meetings to address staff concerns, identification of “change champions” to serve as conduits of information, and development of visuals, pilot areas, survey stations and the like to demonstrate components of the project and showcase the look and feel of the new workplace. The goal was to help GSK employees understand the change so that they would ultimately feel a sense of ownership and contribute to a positive SMART Working environment. 

We couldn’t have come up with these solutions without truly being part of the client’s culture. It was a holistic approach, and we have accomplished nothing less than a paradigm shift in the workplace. We have changed peoples’ hearts and minds from coveting their own space to expanding their vision and sharing their space.

Steven Bernstein, Faithful+Gould's Technical Director

“We couldn’t have come up with these solutions without truly being part of the client’s culture,” said Steven Bernstein, Faithful+Gould’s director of strategic planning and workplace solutions. “It was a holistic approach, and we have accomplished nothing less than a paradigm shift in the workplace. We have changed peoples’ hearts and minds from coveting their own space to expanding their vision and sharing their space.”

Iain added, “Employees who have spent their entire working lives in a traditional office environment with cubicles and dedicated office space are initially skeptical of change, which is understandable But once they see the benefits of agile working they realize that these environments are better equipped to support the way they work.”

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