'Workplace Solutions' for the Pharmaceutical Sector

Iain McWhinney
Philadelphia’s historic Navy Yard is the new home for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), global pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare giant. Faithful+Gould worked with GSK to meet their business objectives.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) wanted much more than a building. The company has used the relocation to transform the way it works, embracing its global SMART Working program and supported by Faithful+Gould’s Workplace Solutions service.

Workplace Solutions is not simply about bricks and mortar - we focus on helping organizations implement business transformation and change.

Workplace Solutions is not simply about bricks and mortar - we focus on helping organizations implement business transformation and change. Our team led the program management office responsible for both delivery and occupation of GSK’s new building, along with decommissioning of their former office space.   

An innovative layout allowed GSK to relocate all 1,300 employees from downtown Philadelphia, while dramatically reducing its office space by circa 600,000 square feet. Based around the principles of communities or neighborhoods, the layout promotes communication and boosts efficiency. Open floor-plates house shared work stations and a range of meeting and social areas. There are no private offices in the building.

The result is a 208,000-square-foot, four-story building that creates an open, vibrant and collaborative work experience, with some great features: 

  • Glass atrium entryway forms high energy gathering area
  • Visitors center, coffee bar, wellness center and company store
  • Energy-efficient glass interior and exterior walls provide daylight and skyline views
  • Fitness center, restaurant, retail services and rooftop garden
  • The building has achieved a Double LEED® Platinum level of certification.

Constructing the physical workplace is often less challenging than changing employees’ mindsets and behaviors. People who have known only a traditional office environment with cubicles and dedicated space are understandably skeptical of change. We find that preparing employees for the move to an agile working environment is key to program success. To ease this transition, we led GSK employees through a structured training program:

  • We facilitated a series of town hall style meetings to address staff concerns
  • We identified change champions to disseminate information
  • Visuals, pilot areas and survey stations showcased the look and feel of the new workplace. 

To drive these solutions, our team had to truly become part of GSK’s culture.

The goal was to empower GSK’s employees to feel a sense of ownership and contribute to a positive SMART Working environment. To drive these solutions, our team had to truly become part of GSK’s culture. This worked well - our approach helped accomplish a paradigm shift in their workplace. Instead of coveting their own space, employees have expanded their vision and can see the new environments are better equipped to support the way they work today. 

The Navy Yard project is the latest example of GSK’s global SMART Working program. GSK adopted the program when shifting work patterns and technology advances meant that 85% of its office space was used less than 35% of the time. This represented a large unnecessary operating expense. GSK found that agile working environments speed decision-making and increase group effectiveness

Key service elements on the Navy Yard project:

  • strategic advisory services
  • design management
  • project and cost management
  • scheduling
  • risk mitigation
  • communication and change management
  • sustainability (partnered with Atkins North America)
  • value engineering

Faithful+Gould has worked alongside GSK for over 10 years, helping the company implement SMART Working environments in the UK, North, Central and South America, Africa and Asia.