In May of 2013, JLL in the United States published Global Corporate Real Estate Trends 2013. The results of this study highlighted the future of offices and working methods, together with the vision of top corporate leaders. Susan Lim, a member of JLL’s Global Board for Workplace Strategies, responsible for the Asia-Pacific region, commented at that time that “boosting the global economy requires creating a shared culture, aligned with the vision of the CEO. Motivation is not something that can be imposed. We have to discuss how companies create and maintain their culture, community and experience.”

The guidelines proposed by the executive and her team to transform workplace culture are based on three principles: corporate success begins with a shared culture, aligned to the vision of the CEO; shared communities promote increased productivity; and spaces should be created that encourage integration in the working environment to increase employee engagement. Regardless of the actions taken, one thing is certain: corporate space is becoming more and more important in companies’ strategic planning.

Syngenta, one of JLL’s recent cases in Brazil, demonstrates the importance of investing in change. With headcount growing by more than 50% in the last five years, Syngenta decided that the time had come. Challenges to overcome included communication problems, a lack of meeting rooms and high lease costs. The decision to proceed with the reorganization was put into effect in 2012. With support from JLL, Syngenta started developing a business plan, detailing costs, schedules and all the operational logistics of the project. This was then submitted to and approved by the parent company in Switzerland.

The goal was to apply the Workplace Innovation standard, renewing the office and the concept of work without changing the location. Work involved five floors totaling 7,931 m² and one floor of 1,604 m² that was used for assembling provisional layouts, plus logistics support for the fit-out. This all allowed for greater interaction among professionals while improving the working environment,” said Daniel Bortone, Senior Project Manager at JLL, noting that the installation of more than 60 new meeting rooms with varying capacities solved one of the company’s major problems.

However, doing all this required overcoming some challenges. “The biggest one, without a doubt, was completely renovating the floors and implementing a new layout concept associated with a new system of work without changing the location and with 786 employees continuing to work normally. But the JLL team’s detailed planning and strict control meant that the changes took place without negatively impacting the project,” Bortone said.

Gabriela Pizarro, Projects Coordinator at JLL, explained that provisional layouts were used to keep areas of the company operational. “This project involved the integration of all areas of Syngenta plus the support of JLL’s Facilities area, which the company created in 2005. Such support was essential and helped us resolve small problems that could have hampered the new operation,” she said.

One relevant facet of the project was the support of a committee comprising Syngenta’s senior leaders in each area. Members discussed and supported every decision taken regarding the project. To minimize the impact of the work, the committee formed a Syngenta internal project team that brought together representatives of the main areas involved in the project (HR, Legal, Procurement, IT, Financial and Facilities). This team was responsible for discussing which aspects of the project should be implemented and how best to carry them out.

Sandra Oliveira, JLL’s Facilities Manager for Syngenta, said that the participation of Facilities helped to identify strategic points for maintenance. “We suggested some important changes that were not mentioned in the overall architectural design. Bathrooms are an example. We paid attention to the question of lighting; we requested that hygienic douches be standardized in each area; and we asked for a tap to be installed for use by service personnel, a cabinet to store disposable material that was previously kept in the basement, and a low-reflectivity, anti-slip floor,” she said.

The work of Syngenta’s communications area was also seen as essential to keep all employees aware of the importance of the process. “Max Gehringer (a Brazilian motivational business speaker) was hired to lecture on the benefits of this change, then each new step of the process was announced with banners, handouts and brochures,” Oliveira said.

X-ray of the changes

Summary of the Syngenta renovation operation:
Total project time: 01 years and 11 months;
Planning/approval and implementation: 08 months;
Work: 01 years and 03 months without accidents and with the site in operation;
Users: change impacting more than 1,200;
Working together: Intensive change management that today enjoys the recognition of all employees about the advantages of the new layout;
Project delivered within the deadline and cost agreed in the Business Case.

Today we have a new working environment with a modern, pleasing design that people experience every day and that reinforces company values and culture; our initial goal was achieved because the feedback from our professionals is highly motivating. In my opinion, the partnership between Syngenta and JLL is an example of success, because we achieved the goals within the deadline, with the agreed quality and cost. When we have two serious companies with dedicated and competent professionals, the result comes naturally,” said Gilson Bernal Moleiro, Head of Production Latam at Syngenta.

José Luiz Weiss, Syngenta’s Head HR Latam, said that the partnership with JLL was essential to the success of the project: “At the start they helped by showing us other successful projects to convince Syngenta decision-makers about the change. And throughout the project, we worked together to build a plan for change that was one of the keys to this project. We have much for which to thank the partnership and the end result, which has made our working environment a lot more pleasant, collaborative and efficient.”