Gilead Sciences has opened its new 96,000-square-foot East Coast hub at Parsippany’s Latitude campus, where it has placed a premium on collaboration and comfort with an eye toward innovation, creativity and helping employees transition back to the office. — All images courtesy: Gilead
By Joshua Burd
Jill Massey was thoughtful yet emphatic as she described the day in early August that employees arrived at Gilead Sciences’ new office in Parsippany, many of them seeing the space for the first time.
“I wouldn’t be overstating it by saying the atmosphere was electric,” she said, later adding:
“I think maybe there was some trepidation in the beginning because people got used to working remotely. But once they were in the office, you could hear the buzz, you could see all the collaboration spaces being used. I think people may have been surprised at how happy they were to see each other again and work together in person, but it’s now easily become our norm in just several weeks.”
For Massey and other Gilead executives, the experience has validated a decision to invest substantially and strategically in new physical workspaces at a time in which many companies — and their employees — are still unsure about how and when to return to the office. Located at Latitude — Vision Real Estate Partners’ sprawling, amenity-laden campus just south of Interstate 80 — the 96,000-square-foot office serves as the East Coast hub for the Foster City, California-based biopharmaceutical giant, which has placed a premium on spaces that provide “a way for people to transition back into a workspace that doesn’t look like the workspace they left before the pandemic.”
Massey points to the facility’s 17 collaboration areas with soft seating and other features that “really look like your family room, your living room, the places that you’ve spent the last 18 to 24 months during the pandemic trying to do your work.” They all support the company’s belief that “our innovation, our creativity, our science discoveries come from collaboration” she said, both internally and with its partners in the industry.
“You need a space to do that,” said Massey, Gilead’s vice president for global medical strategic operations. “You can’t do all of that over the communication channels that we had designed for remote working during the pandemic. So when Gilead selected this space, they took particular care to really think about: What will post-pandemic collaboration look like and what will facilitate the most effective innovation and discovery, especially in the cancer community that we’re focused on in New Jersey?”
Gilead — which made news at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic for its antiviral drug remdesivir — focuses on preventing and treating life-threatening diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis and cancer, boasting more than three decades of history. The company planted a flag in New Jersey in 2020 when it acquired Morris Plains-based Immunomedics, with plans to create an East Coast hub in the state as part of a major expansion.
Its plans at Latitude became public in spring 2022 after it signed a lease with Vision Real Estate Partners and Rubenstein Partners LP, which spearheaded a sweeping overhaul of the two-building, 700,000-square-foot property on Interpace Parkway, in a deal brokered by Newmark’s David Simson and Todd Ward. The space now represents one of Gilead’s largest investments in a physical U.S. site outside of its California headquarters and manufacturing facilities, as it aims to tap into New Jersey’s rich pool of talent in oncology and other health care fields.
According to the company, the space is designed to accommodate more than 400 seats, with 32 hoteling and 150 focus or collaboration rooms for a workforce that spans corporate affairs, medical affairs, regulatory affairs, operations, engineering, quality, supply chain, commercial and general administrative functions. The drug maker, meantime, has three designated collaboration days in the middle of the week that allow team members to convene with their colleagues, while still providing flexibility for travel or other commitments.
In the process, employees get to enjoy amenities at one of the state’s most distinctive office properties, which includes multiple dining options, fitness areas and a host of other common spaces inspired by U.S. cities — from New York to Denver to Los Angeles — with a theme that channels the straight line, east-to-west layout of Latitude’s two mirror-image buildings.
“The pickleball court has been a big hit,” Massey said.
Internally, Gilead’s other spaces include a library, a well-being room and an interfaith room, as wells as a community hub and a host of individual workstations. It also carries on a tradition from Immunomedics, whereby each conference room is named after a person whose life has been impacted by a Gilead medicine.
“We also wanted to provide that piece of inspiration to come to work,” Massey said. “Remember what we’re here for: We’re here for the patients that we’re all trying to serve (and) to work with your colleagues in a comfortable setting to get that done. And that’s really how we’ve made the transition easier.”