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Optimizing Large Facility Portfolios Through Strategic Design

21 March 2018

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. Two years ago, global healthcare provider Fresenius Medical Corporation North America (FMCNA) partnered with Dyer Brown to strategically assess, reconfigure, and redesign its campuses in Greater Boston and we are already seeing positive results, such as:

  • productivity increases resulting from optimizing existing real estate,
  • improvements in employee recruitment and retention rates,
  • departmental realignment and improved unit cohesion.

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.

A comprehensive workplace strategy addresses the physical footprint as a whole, avoiding obstacles to optimal performance. 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.

Dyer Brown’s experience of ongoing consultation and analysis, integrated interior design and architecture, and branding for clients with significant real estate portfolios, was instrumental to the continual project success.

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?" Fresenius' answers to these questions became a roadmap for a physical transformation reflecting the new vision.

Dyer Brown led visioning sessions and worked to quantify the strategy by rethinking Fresenius’ current real estate standards. 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. The results are:

  • reducing the number of standard private office sizes from four to three
  • lowering the private office per employee average of 180 SF to less than 160 SF
  • reducing the number of workstations sizes from three to one
  • lowering the workstation per employee average of 70 SF to 48 SF

These changes in the workplace standards realized a 25 percent overall gain in building efficiency while recapturing the remaining unused and under-utilized square footage into idea hubs - settings designed to promote teamwork and innovation where employees could collaborate more effectively. Fresenius is already seeing the investment paying dividends in employee satisfaction and improved morale.


Check out the CoreNet LEADER magazine March issue (pages 46-48) for the full article. 

Post authored by Sara Ross LEED AP, Director of Corporate Services at Dyer Brown Architects in Boston.

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