Wiley 2.0

Wiley’s revamped corporate space will attract a new breed of workers and enhance collaboration in the digital age for the publishing giant, as Jeff Pellet explains

When Wiley—the global leader in publishing founded in 1807—renewed the lease on its Hoboken headquarters in 2014, its leaders saw an opportunity to gut and refurbish their 300,000-square-foot workspace and keep pace with the changing expectations of an evolving workforce and industry. Thanks to a dedicated, world-class team of internal and external experts, the renovation moved from concept to completion in just 18 months, propelling one of America’s oldest businesses to the cutting edge.

Jeff Pellet, head of global real estate, facilities, and corporate services, is leading the charge. He joined Wiley in April 2015 after completing several significant strategic real estate projects for NYSE Euronext, Morgan Stanley, and UBS. Pellet started his career as a technologist at Morgan Stanley, where he introduced PC networks, e-mail, and other collaborative technologies to the investment bankers before moving into corporate services, ultimately moving to London to run real estate and corporate services for Europe and Asia. During that time, his team built Morgan Stanley’s London headquarters, a 175,000-square-foot technology center and the bank’s first stand-alone data center, outside London.

In 2006, Pellet returned to the United States and soon after became NYSE Euronext’s head of global real estate and corporate services. During his tenure, he built two massive, secure, and resilient Tier 4-class data-center fortresses. Pellet’s team also renovated and modernized the iconic NYSE trading floor, complete with a state-of-the-art CNBC studio. Although traders and market makers fill the space most days of the year, the project was completed on-time and on-budget, over a span of two years that didn’t interrupt trading activity.

Wiley’s new headquarters will include improved amenities such as a pantry, cafeteria, and coffee bar for its employees in Hoboken.

Pellet is leveraging the lessons he learned on those jobs as he steers renovation work at Wiley’s corporate tower, and he’s doing so with an eye on industry trends. When he started with the company in 2015, changes in the industry affected all traditional publishers—about 60 percent of company’s revenue now comes from digital sources.

“This change has us interacting more with content consumers, and with a higher reliance on digital distribution channels—we are competing with high-tech companies for talent,” Pellet says. “Therefore, Wiley’s work environment must reflect the values and expectations of technology workers and millennials.”

Highlights of the New Headquarters

Wiley’s new headquarters in Hoboken, New Jersey, is expected to change the way employees interact both internally and externally. Some of the space’s highlights include:

• Increases in numbers and
varieties of collaboration spaces

• Enhanced mobility with robust Wi-Fi throughout the building, IP telephony, and secure cloud printing

• State-of-the-art AV meeting-room technology

• Bright, open environments facilitating colleague interaction

• C-suite leaders moved to accessible, open-plan workstations

• Enhanced experience for clients and visitors in a high-tech client conference center

• Improved amenities, such as a new cafeteria and coffee bar

Wiley’s headquarters is located on the bustling Hoboken waterfront with spectacular views of New York City’s skyline and convenient access for staff and visitors via three major mass-transit systems: NJ Transit, Path, and the NJ Lightrail.

“It made sense for Wiley to continue to leverage this ideal location for our existing colleagues and to attract new talent, so we wanted to enhance our space by introducing strategic features,” Pellet says.

The project will be completed in three phases. The first and most complicated phase involves relocating about half of the 1,200 onsite employees into swing space as construction of three 46,000-square-foot floors is completed—including conference centers and the cafeteria.   

To get buy-in and lessen the anxiety and frustration often associated with workplace construction, Pellet and his colleagues created a full communication plan to keep employees updated on all aspects of the project. Early feedback from this plan has been positive.

“I think people are excited because they know this is the direction a publishing company needs to go [in order] to stay competitive and relevant,” Pellet says.

The new design will replace closed offices and high-walled cubicles with a series of open and collaborative spaces where workers can interact. Everyone from the CEO to recent graduates will work in one of many six-foot-by-six-foot work stations placed around the building’s window perimeter. Designers and architects exceeded the recommended one-to-one ratio of workstation-to-conference seats to ensure maximum levels of convenience and collaboration opportunities.

Additionally, lounge areas, booths, and semiprivate spaces give Wiley’s employees the chance to break away for brief meetings or spontaneous conversations. An amenities floor will hold two large conference centers with maximum seating capacities for 250 people. The new Wiley cafeteria features a barista-style coffee bar and flexible space to accommodate other social events.

Although Pellet has experience in projects of similar size and scope, he credits his team of designers, architects, and engineers with success in Hoboken.

“It would not be possible to develop designs, engineering plans, and furniture and technology solutions without a top-level team helping every step of the way,” he says.

TPG architects have aided Wiley in defining the perfect balance of form and function for the company’s new environment, and JLL and Structure Tone are coordinating the construction effort.

Wiley will use the design of the new headquarters and lessons learned from the project as the global standard for future office build-outs. Among the first locations to benefit from the new design will be an office just outside of Boston, which will be occupied by spring 2017.

The 210-year-old company has a history of innovating by embracing change. It’s grown through strategic acquisitions, entered new markets, tested novel content, and targeted emerging and high-growth regions. Wiley continues that legacy in this new environment, one that will help it meet the demands of the fast-paced and ever-changing industry. 

Communication 101

The dramatic changes Wiley is undertaking for its Hoboken headquarters motivated the company to develop a communication plan to introduce the project to staff. With many workers going from private or semiprivate offices to an open environment, communicating the benefits associated with the change became critical.

Before the project started, colleagues were interviewed about workflow, preferences, and other working practices to inform design choices. As part of the design process, furniture vendors provided mockups for review. Jeff Pellet, head of global real estate, facilities, and corporate services, says his team used an online survey to gather feedback before finalizing a custom design with Steelcase, the winning bidder. A video walkthrough gave all employees a virtual tour of the final space while an intranet site shared renderings, project updates, articles, FAQs, and information about designers, architects, the construction team, and project managers.