How Gilead Sciences's Office Design Leaders Enable Connectivity, Culture and Collaboration

By: Elizabeth Mixson

Ahead of our summer 2019 event, we sat down with speaker Assal Yavari, Sr. Director of Global Master Planning & Workplace Strategy, Gilead Sciences to discuss her company's approach to creating work environments that aligns with Gilead's core values - integrity, inclusion, teamwork, accountability and excellence. Below is an account of our conversation.

What role does office design play in shaping the employee experience at Gilead?

That's a great question. How we see it, from a workplace strategy standpoint, is that office design + architecture creates a face for what we at Gilead refer to as the three Cs: connectivity (from both a technological and people standpoint); culture; and collaboration

And so, without the three Cs, the environment may not enable employees to be innovative, feel inspired and motivated; to really bring their best to work. What we're creating now is a workplace that encompasses all of those elements, because here at Gilead the well-being of our patients come first. Our goal is to get our products on the market as quickly and safely as possible so it’s critical that our workplace environment supports that mission and allows people to perform to their highest ability. 

How do you know what employees expect/want when it comes to office design? 

We don't work in a bubble. We are very collaborative with our users and we conduct customer focus groups to learn more about what their business needs are.  We incorporate their feedback which we receive through a series of meetings, surveys, headcount growth and space utilization studies into the design to create an optimal workspace that will be consistent with our current standards.

So, it's really about making sure that our users feel involved in the process, that their input is valued and they're being heard, because they end up being our biggest champions as we change the workplace design.

What are the top 3 technologies or office design solutions shaping the employee experience at Gilead and why?

From a technology standpoint, Zoom, a video-based content sharing platform. Our approach to office design is not one size fits all. We’ve really taken into consideration that people like to work in different spaces and created different types of meeting spaces for people to choose from. So, in every “neighborhood,” we have different types and sizes of conference rooms. Whether it's a two to three people, or 20, we have a space for you. We've included Zoom in everything to enable real-time communication. Even our open collaboration spaces are fully equipped with Zoom but have a more informal atmosphere.

Another thing that has been a real differentiator for us is sound masking. People are always concerned about privacy and noise pollution in more open workspaces. We worked with a really great team to incorporate the latest and greatest white noise to help with the sound mitigation. As result, people move in and are very surprised about how quiet it is in our offices. This is something not a lot of other companies are doing yet. 

We also have incorporated a conference management booking system which allows users to book conference rooms on Outlook or walk up and schedule an impromptu meeting. The room scheduler is designed with a halo, so as you're walking down the hall, or in a neighborhood, you can tell whether a conference room is available based on our color coding system (green means available, red, booked).

We're also incorporating 22MILES touch screen wayfinding. So, if you're in a space, and you're looking for a conference room to book or even a specific person, you can go up to the screen, click what building and what floor you want to, type up that person and it will tell you from your point of location, kind of like the Google Maps, how to get to that person or to that conference room.

For us it's all about making the experience for users easier, because change is hard and we want to make the journey as seamless as possible.