Sanofi's site modernization spree rolls on with plan to shift 2,000 staffers to new flexible workspace in New Jersey

Just a few months after sprucing up its main digs in Paris, Sanofi has turned its attention to the Garden State, where nearly 2,000 staffers are gearing up for a facility shuffle next winter.

Sanofi is moving its flagship New Jersey site in Bridgewater roughly 15 miles northeast to Morristown—and all 1,900 employees are coming along for the ride, a company spokesperson confirmed. The site’s relocation marks the latest stop on a global campaign to modernize Sanofi’s workspaces, he said.

The company has “tentative” plans to start shifting staffers over to Morristown in late 2024 and early 2025. For the new facility, Sanofi has earmarked about 260,000 square feet of land.  It also set aside a 17,000-square-foot plot in Morristown for its consumer healthcare branch. Sanofi has not disclosed its investment in the new plant.

Much like the new headquarters in Paris, Sanofi is pitching its upcoming Morristown office as a response to the novel ways of working that took off during the COVID-19 pandemic. With hybrid and at-home work the new normal for many people, Sanofi wants to keep its workspaces relevant. In turn, it’s designing the Morristown plant to be more collaborative and digitally connected than its Bridgewater forebear.  

The company figures the Garden State revamp will foster better engagement, bigger breakthroughs and more meaningful solutions for patients, all within the framework of Sanofi’s flexible work policy.

Like many other pharma companies, Sanofi has deployed a “hybrid” work model across its global operations. While the nuances of the policy differ country-to-country, the general rule is that employees are expected to work from the office two or three days a week. On its website, Sanofi says it wants employees to “enjoy the best of both worlds whenever possible.”

"Not everybody is comfortable or happy working at home for different reasons,” Raj Verma, Sanofi’s chief diversity and experience officer, said back in 2021. Speaking to Fierce Pharma six months after his start at the French Pharma, Verma noted that in that time, he hadn’t met a single employee in person.

In reformulating back-to-work plans, Sanofi “wanted to be able to offer something for all,” Verma said, highlighting potential hybrid solutions for roles that typically demand an in-person touch, such as lab work or manufacturing.

He described the pandemic as a “huge accelerant” for Sanofi’s efforts to “create the workplace strategy of the future.”

Now, that strategy is being put into practice long-term as Sanofi weaves its flexible work ethos into the DNA of many new and refurbished sites.

Chief among them is La Maison Sanofi—the drugmaker’s new global nerve center in Paris, which weds historic French architecture with “new hybrid ways of working.” Sanofi is championing the “same spirit” at its campus in Cambridge Crossing near Boston, plus a pair of French sites in Paris and Lyon.

And the company’s hardly alone.

GSK in December announced its own global HQ move back to central London, where the company plans to host around 3,000 staffers under a continued hybrid working model. Offering flexibility across job functions, the site will include GSK’s global leadership team, plus those supporting research and development, supply chain and commercial operations.

Elsewhere, Japanese Alzheimer’s player Eisai inaugurated its new U.S. headquarters in Nutley, New Jersey, last summer. The company described the workspace at the time as a dynamic, technologically advanced environment.”

Plus, Merck & Co. is nearing the end of a years-long headquarters transplant back to its old stomping grounds in Rahway. The company recently found a buyer for its former 108-acre campus in Kenilworth, which Merck has called home since 2015. The plan is to move out of Kenilworth in phases over the next “several years” as Merck completes an expansion at its up-and-coming Rahway site.

Like Sanofi and GSK, Eisai and Merck have enacted their own hybrid work frameworks, permitting many employees to split time between the office and their homes.

“It is clear that, even after the pandemic is over, the kind of agility we’ve learned over the last year will remain central to the way we work together,” Merck says of the policy on its website.