Be the Match Case Study

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Project Info
Be the Match Case Study
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Completion Date: 2015
Project size: 240,000 square feet

2017, AIA Minneapolis Merit Award
2017, IIDA Northland FAB Award for Design Excellence
2016, Leading Edge Excellence Award, IFMA Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter
2016, Award of Excellence for Office Build-To-Suite, NAIOP Minnesota

Site selection
Mobility strategy
Technology strategy
Workplace strategy
Communications strategy
Change Management strategy

A strategic location, clear communication, and a comprehensive mobility plan ensure a nonprofit’s support for its clients and employees.

Since its founding in 1987, Be the Match has grown from a family-run enterprise to a world-renowned organization with over 1,000 employees. Over the course of its expansion, the nonprofit, which researches cellular therapies and connects blood-cancer patients with tissue donors, steadily broadened its aims; it now also sought visibility for its mission, to keep pace with increasing demand for its services, and to attract talent from both the public and private sectors. Be the Match’s leaders had become concerned that its offices, located on the outskirts of Minneapolis, were now impeding that progress. They turned to Perkins+Will’s Workplace Strategy team for help. Among our tasks: identify the ideal office environment, introduce more flexible ways of working, and guide the transitions necessary to make these changes successful on individual and organizational levels.

Before any design programming began, it was crucial to determine the amount and type of workspaces needed. To gain insights, we blended the quantitative and the qualitative, measuring desk utilization and conducting interviews, focus groups, and visioning sessions. We then analyzed the data and built a portrait of the organization’s current and future real estate needs. The findings supported the idea of an office visible to street traffic and located near public transportation; it also suggested that the floor plate be able to accommodate organizational growth. We performed test-fits on spaces suggested by a real estate consultant, opting for a newly constructed building in the city’s vibrant North Loop neighborhood. Adjacent to a commuter rail station and a multimodal metro station, the location also addressed issues related to accessibility and the challenges of urban parking.

Because the company’s employees had expressed concern about moving from the city’s outskirts to a denser urban environment, we collaborated with be the Match’s leadership on a change-management strategy. We developed a communications program, Be in the Loop, to provide project updates, convey the significance of the move, and point out how exciting the area really is. The result of the efforts: In a self-assessment a few months after the relocation, 83% of staff reported that they were either comfortable or very comfortable with the new neighborhood.

During our research, we discovered that employees wanted more flexibility regarding where they worked and when. When we presented these findings to the company, they asked us to develop a pilot mobility program that would be launched before the move. We developed a framework of protocols, management expectations, and broad technology recommendations; we also helped create criteria to identify ideal telecommuting candidates. When the pilot proved to be a success, with participants reporting increased happiness and a better connection to colleagues, Be the Match decided to implement the program on a larger scale. We created training modules that empowered the human resources department to do so in the company’s new office, rebranding the program Co.Here.

Be the Match’s new headquarters features 1,229 seats at 156 usable square feet per seat: a comfortable allotment that, being just below the industry average for space, also reduced the organization’s carbon footprint. The configuration allows for near-instant operational rearrangements, with the ability to accommodate up to 1,500 people without altering the footprint. Staff choose where and how they work, moving between dedicated desks and a range of heads-down and group areas. An impressive 50% of employees participate in the mobility program, working remotely part of the time and sharing a pool of unassigned desks when on site. Staff report that the increased variability and flexibility have deepened their happiness and led to better work/life balance. The shift has also benefited the company, cutting its overhead costs while improving its organizational resilience.