Case studies: Sabre, PTO

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Gensler developed through previous workplace transformations, including a headquarters remodeling for travel technology firm Sabre Holdings in 2007. Before the redesign, the company’s offices held 3,000 employees in 4,000 seats. Badge data showed that 35 percent of the workforce did not enter the offices on any given day. By moving to flexible, unassigned space for all employees, including the CEO, the company consolidated five office spaces of 1 million square feet into two buildings that total 470,000 square feet and are certified under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

The transformation cut Sabre’s global real estate costs by more than 25 percent, saved $10 million in operational expenses and reduced the previous average of 350 square feet per person to 185. The new headquarters fit 1.35 employees per cubicle, a significant increase from 0.81 previously. In addition, Sabre has slashed its energy consumption by 61 percent, reduced its carbon footprint by 54 percent and saved more than 22 million gallons of water.

“We needed to accommodate more people and be smarter about our use of space,” said Leilani Latimer, who was Sabre’s senior director of sustainability initiatives at the time. “When the physical walls came down, a lot of other walls came down, too…. Not having the physical walls opened people up to a lot more collaboration.”

Tips for Transformation

• Let data support and determine your decision.

• Build the business case with key stakeholders.

• Secure executive management endorsement and support.

• Develop a clear communication plan.

• Cultivate strategic partnerships.

• Invest in flexible, robust technology.

• Always factor in the human element.

• Know your culture.

• Expect the program to evolve over time to meet changing needs.

Source: Sabre Holdings Case Study

Now employees might meet on the comfy couches in the building’s lobby or in the break room, or they might “touch down” at a bar stool in the break area to work between meetings. Although employees were initially assigned rolling sets of file drawers, many preferred to switch to digital records. An internal social media site with space for personal pictures and corporate recognition replaced the old habits of photographs on desks and plaques on walls.

“Conversation was one of the learning moments for us