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Flexible working leads Thermo Fisher Scientific to seek smaller office space

The COVID-19 pandemic led the business to integrate flexible working leading to alternative workplace options for employees
Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 5:27 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 11, 2022 at 10:42 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Thermo Fisher Scientific, PPD’s clinical research business, is seeking new office space in Wilmington and exploring opportunities to sell its current downtown property.

According to an announcement released Monday, the multi-year initiative will enable Thermo Fisher Scientific to better match current and future workspace needs with flexible work models.

The COVID-19 pandemic led the business to integrate flexible working which led to alternative workplace options for employees.

The search for new office space is in the early stages and could take two or more years to complete; however, the business remains committed to Wilmington.

“Our commitment to Wilmington as an employer and our involvement in the community remain stronger than ever and, through this relocation, we expect to continue to be a Wilmington growth story for years to come,” said senior vice president and president, clinical research David M. Johnston. “We have been proud of our Wilmington building since it opened in 2007 and, as we consider the evolving needs of our workforce and business, we believe this is the right time to establish a new location to serve our colleagues, customers and visitors.”

Thermo Fisher’s clinical research business employs more than 1,700 professionals in the Wilmington region. In total, Thermo Fisher employs more than 11,000 in North Carolina and more than 130,000 around the world.

City of Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said the large company has contributed to the city’s growth over the years, and he’s glad they are committed to staying in the city. He added that he is not concerned about the future of the building.

“Even with the City of Wilmington, a lot of our employees want to work from home and this is what we find a lot of companies are doing, a lot of places are doing. It’s not unusual,” Mayor Saffo said. “That building is in a very good location, a hotspot as I would say. I think it will sell at some point in time to some company or maybe a multitude of different companies but we will definitely see that building repurposed at some time in the future.”

The Mayor mentioned the old Verizon call center off of Shipyard Boulevard, and said they went through a similar situation. He says the reason he isn’t concerned is because that property was recently bought and he knows it will be repurposed soon, meaning there is potential for the Thermo Fisher building as well.

“And we see what is happening not only here in Wilmington with the Verizon call center as well as what we have seen with Thermo Fisher, and this is just the way that companies will do business moving forward in the future,” Mayor Saffo said.

Wilmington City Council member Neil Anderson said in a statement: “In the current post-COVID work at home environment it may be a challenge to sell it. Over time our society will embrace returning to the office, but may never be 5 days a week again. Google and many other major companies are having the same issue. There will still be demand for office space, but less per tenant and it will be used differently. Hard to imagine there will not be plenty of office space available for the foreseeable future with technology what it is and now the lengthy precedent. If working from home does indeed work just as well, it will eventually improve the bottom lines of many companies. Regarding Thermo Fisher, I am more concerned about the actual impact on local employment, jobs here in Wilmington, than the building.”

The business’ downtown Wilmington property, which opened in 2007, includes approximately 400,000 square feet of class A office space with surface parking, a parking deck and an underground garage.

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