Alice Hogueisson, Edelman’s global facilities manager, has renovated more than 1 million sf of office space since 2007. Edelman is the world’s largest PR firm with 5,500 creative professionals in the world’s top 60 cities. Here is Alice’s keys to success:
Create a global team: Alice created an integrated team comprising of Gensler, CBRE, Structure Tone, furniture and lighting SV suppliers to support Edelman in every market they operate.
Foster two-way communication: Alice treats every member of the team as a strategic partner. She encourages each member to proactively share their concerns at every stage, and especially when they feel the budget is overstretched. Likewise, Alice doesn’t hesitate engaging a partner when something has gone off track so they can solve the issue.
Be local: While Alice has developed guidelines for Edelman’s space, they ask business leaders and staff in each location to put their unique personality on the space, which fosters pride and ownership.
Get builders involved early: By involving the construction project manager in the design meetings, Edelman will know how design changes will impact the budget and schedule. Similarly, the construction manager is not learning about items for the first time from the drawings.
Temporary separation: For Alice it can be necessary to walk away from a long-term partner so you don’t damage a specific project, despite the negative impact to the global team.
The biggest challenge: How to grow Edelman’s business without growing the real estate needs. To date, Edelman has reduced its needs from 250 sq. to 150 sq. feet per person through its renovations. Doesn’t fit here – move to after ‘The most challenging markets’.
Conduct post game reviews: Alice revisits the space after one year to examine what people are using and what they’re not using to ensure every new build-out is more efficient than the previous project. For instance, Edelman found that no-one uses upper cabinets, so they stopped installing them; saving money.
Biggest hit with staff: At Edelman, staff love the ‘Starbucks’ feel– a lounge where they can hang-out after work, watch a game, as well as utilize during the working day. They maximize usage of ‘scrub spaces’ with white and chalk boards, so they can brainstorm, visualize and play.
Plan forward: Two-thirds of what Alice does–power, data, plumbing, wireless access points, fire, lights, safety–is invisible, but urges Edelman to “resist the pressure to reduce the budget for bones, because it reduces their flexibility going forward.”
The most challenging markets: Washington DC, New York and San Francisco, in that order. Washington DC has finite space, and demand always exceeds supply. In New York and San Francisco, everyone is looking for funky loft space that doesn’t exist, or the buildings are unsuitable even when the rent is $70 a square foot.