Planning progresses for Stanford Redwood City

Employee input is front and center as planning for interior design, transportation, IT connectivity and workplace culture at the new campus moves forward. A new "Working at Stanford Redwood City" website offers information and updates for employees.

The buildings aren’t up yet. But planning activities are in high gear for Stanford Redwood City, the new campus that will be the university’s first major expansion off the Farm.

Pilot workplace

Stanford employees are now experimenting with a “pilot workplace,” offering work areas and meeting rooms in a variety of configurations, to help inform the design of workspaces at the new Redwood City campus. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

In the last few weeks, groups of Stanford employees have begun to cycle through an experimental workplace, giving them an opportunity to try different work area configurations and provide input into how the interior space at Stanford Redwood City will be designed.

Meanwhile, a series of committees, with staff representatives from departments that will be moving to the new campus, are tackling a variety of issues to plan for an effective transition for employees. On the site itself in Redwood City, off Highway 101 not far from the intersection of Woodside Road and Broadway, demolition of existing structures has been completed and pre-construction site work is under way.

The Cardinal at Work website for Stanford employees now includes a microsite devoted to providing information for employees about the creation of Stanford Redwood City.

“Stanford Redwood City is essential to the future of Stanford, and I’m excited about the work being done to make it a great workplace for employees,” President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said. “Our objective is to allow teaching and research activities to remain concentrated at Stanford as our academic endeavors continue to grow, while providing a new unified home for a range of essential operations currently scattered both on and off campus.

“This is a unique opportunity to create both a new center of excellence for our operations and a vibrant, attractive workplace with more services for our employees.”

About 2,700 staff employees are slated to move to Stanford Redwood City in the first phase of its development, expected to be complete in 2019. But the transition will involve everyone at Stanford, Tessier-Lavigne said.

“This is not just about moving people and functions,” he said. “The development of Stanford Redwood City will require all of us at Stanford, wherever we work, to develop new ways of working together and connecting with each other.”

Experimenting with workspace

In a large space on the first floor of Stanford’s offices at Porter Drive, off Page Mill Road, Stanford employees from units that will be moving to Redwood City have begun trying out a variety of office configurations in a “pilot workplace.” Their feedback will help inform the interior design of the new offices in Redwood City.

See more about Stanford Redwood City

The pilot workplace design is highly flexible and was informed by a staff survey, completed by about 1,500 people last summer, that explored how Stanford employees work. It found, for instance, that Stanford staff on average spend about 40 percent of the day away from their desks, and that many have a desire for both quiet space for individual work and lounge seating for informal collaboration.

The pilot workplace offers work areas and meeting rooms in a variety of configurations for employees to try.

“We want to create interior spaces that suit the work styles of the people who will be in them,” said Joe Kearney, project manager in Land, Buildings and Real Estate who is heading up the pilot workplace effort. “We don’t want a cubicle farm. We want to create workspaces based on what we are hearing directly from the employee groups identified to move to the new campus. And we want to help people be innovative and thoughtful about how they want to work in the future.”

Staff from the Business Affairs and University Human Resources organizations have been the first to try out the pilot workplace. Groups of about 30 employees are spending two weeks each working in the experimental space. Staff from other units will cycle through over the rest of the spring and summer.

Noel Hirst, an assistant vice president in Business Affairs and her unit’s point person for the Redwood City transition, said the pilot workplace has already been valuable in revealing employee preferences on everything from color schemes to the amount of visual separation in work areas. A survey collects formal input from employees, but there is informal feedback, too.

“One person who was finishing the pilot said, ‘I’m going to miss this!'” Hirst said. “People really appreciate that they have a voice and the ability to give input. Early indication from the first round of survey results is that many participants feel the workspace supports collaborative work and productivity. We’re also getting constructive feedback about individual workspaces. But overall, staff have appreciated the attention to detail supporting different styles of work, which you don’t see in many of our workspaces today.”

Several tours of the pilot workplace will be offered over the coming months, allowing Stanford employees who are not testing the space to visit it. Space on the tours is limited; advance registration is required through the STARS system.

Planning committees at work

Meanwhile, a number of committees across the university have been established to facilitate decision-making and to engage employees in units that will be moving to Redwood City.

We want employee ideas for making the most of this new space and for creating the culture of the new campus.

Kathleen Kavanaugh

Program director, Stanford Redwood City

The first phase of construction at Stanford Redwood City will include four office buildings, indoor and outdoor dining areas and plazas, a child care center, a glass-atrium fitness center, a parking garage, a landscaped greenway, a 2.4-acre park and a sustainable central energy facility. In addition to bringing the architectural feel of Stanford to the new campus, planners intend to bring Stanford traditions, as well – BeWell fairs, Cardinal Walk, faculty lectures and student group events, among other things.

“The Redwood City campus is an opportunity for Stanford employees to be involved in creating an entirely new Stanford space, drawing on the legacy of the existing campus,” said Kathleen Kavanaugh, who serves as program director for Stanford Redwood City, working to connect the needs of employees with the design of the campus. “We want employee ideas for making the most of this new space and for creating the culture of the new campus. The committee structure we’ve created is intended to facilitate that input.”

A User Group Advisory Committee with more than two dozen members has been meeting for more than a year, with employees representing each of the departments that will have a presence at the new campus. They are tackling issues important to employees, ranging from transportation programs to information technology to change management programs.

That committee is making recommendations to an executive committee consisting of Robert Reidy, vice president for land, buildings and real estate; Randy Livingston, vice president for business affairs; Elizabeth Zacharias, vice president for university human resources; and Tim Warner, vice provost for budget and auxiliaries management. Livingston, Reidy and Zacharias all will be moving to Stanford Redwood City.

Zacharias said the new campus will include the type of work environment that fosters team collaboration and a sense of community. Additionally, she said, consolidating work locations for dozens of groups now scattered across many facilities on and off campus will be beneficial to providing effective and efficient services, a topic mentioned in the last Stanford staff survey as important to employees.

“Our new campus is an exciting opportunity to be involved in creating our vision of the future, where academic programs and research are carried out on the Stanford campus, and those of us who provide important services that support the mission are together in a new state-of-the-art workplace,” Zacharias said. “There will be many changes associated with the transition to our new campus in Redwood City – both positive and challenging – and I’m confident we’ll plan for the changes and be innovative in doing so, because that’s what we do so well at Stanford.”

Addressing questions of employees

A big part of the work being done around Stanford Redwood City is addressing questions that employees have about operations of the new campus.

In addition to the development of the workplace interiors, two big areas of focus so far are transportation for getting to and from Stanford Redwood City and information technology solutions that will keep employees at Stanford and Stanford Redwood City connected with each other in collaborative and high-quality ways.

Brian Shaw, director of parking and transportation services at Stanford, said his organization is hard at work on solutions and services for people who will be working at Stanford Redwood City.

“We have some answers now, and others will emerge over time as we develop a full transportation demand management plan for the new campus,” Shaw said. “We know that transportation is one of the big concerns for employees, and we want to create a system that makes commuting to and from the Redwood City campus as easy as possible.”

Already part of the transportation plan for Stanford Redwood City are features such as free Caltrain Go passes and SamTrans Way2Go passes; free Marguerite shuttle service to and from the Redwood City Caltrain station; preferred parking for carpools and vanpools; on-site Zipcars; bicycle commuter facilities; pre-tax transit purchase programs; a Guaranteed Ride Home program for those who do not drive alone to work; and other offerings. Additional options are now being explored to create a comprehensive transportation plan for the new campus.

Meanwhile, another subcommittee is working on audiovisual standards to support high-quality connectivity between Stanford and Stanford Redwood City.

The effort involves looking at telecommunications hardware and software options, conference room design, employee training – even videoconference etiquette. Drawing on input from Stanford units, peer institutions and a variety of other sources, the group will make recommendations to university leadership on what is needed at both Stanford and Stanford Redwood City to make virtual meetings and other communication among people in different locations as easy and effective as possible.

“Rich, deep, highly available and easy-to-use audiovisual connectivity at both Stanford and Stanford Redwood City is essential to the transition,” said Matthew Ricks, director of IT facilities management in University IT, who is chairing the subcommittee. “How do you ensure that the first 15 minutes of a meeting aren’t spent dealing with the technology? How do you prevent a meeting in two locations from devolving into two separate meetings? We want a system and practices that make collaboration easy and effective for everyone.”

Stanford units that will have at least some employees at Stanford Redwood City include Business Affairs; Land, Buildings and Real Estate; School of Medicine administration; Office of Development; University Human Resources; Graduate School of Business; University Libraries; Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning; and Residential & Dining Enterprises.