Rite Aid’s new HQ is all about ‘a new way of working’

Discussion
Photo: Rite Aid
Jul 14, 2022

Rite Aid yesterday officially opened its new “remote” headquarters building (AKA collaboration center) in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard district.

“This is not an office,” Heyward Donegan, president and CEO of Rite, said at the ribbon cutting, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “This is a collaboration center. There is no one that actually works here on a full-time basis. … We’re here to introduce the new modern way of working and the new modern Rite Aid.”

The retailer in a press release said that its new HQ building provides access to major modes of transportation so that its teams at Rite Aid, Bartell Drugs, Elixir and Health Dialog are able to meet and interact in person with the company’s professional stakeholders.

“We are not only transforming our business to better serve our customers, but we are embracing new ways of working that blends a remote-first corporate workforce with opportunities for in-person collaboration,” said Ms. Heyward in a statement.

The 23,000-square-foot Collaboration Center does not have personal offices. It features a variety of conference rooms equipped with digital Neat Boards for video conferencing, a digital/video studio, a Genius Bar for IT support, a business center, kitchens and a respite room for nursing mothers and others who need some alone time.

Rite Aid’s new HQ is all about ‘a new way of working’
Photo: Rite Aid

Rite Aid, which operates 2,350 stores across 17 states, gained the confidence to move ahead with its remote-first workforce plan as a result of its experience during the pandemic.

A 2021 internal survey of Rite Aid’s corporate staff found that a vast majority preferred working from home rather than commuting to the office. The staff said that working from home helped increase their personal productivity since it afforded them greater flexibility and a higher degree of control over how they managed their work and personal lives.

Jim Peters, Rite Aid’s former COO, last year said that a remote-first corporate staff is a competitive advantage.

“We can recruit the best talent regardless of their location, and we can give our corporate associates the freedom and flexibility that today’s workers crave,” he said.

“I think it’s especially meaningful that these changes were shaped by our associates, whose input we solicited along the way — this approach aligns with one of our core values: get there together,” he added.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of a remote-first corporate workforce? Do the pros of this approach outweigh the cons in your estimation?

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"Good for Rite Aid for recognizing a whole new work paradigm."

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10 Comments on "Rite Aid’s new HQ is all about ‘a new way of working’"


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Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust
Richard Hernandez
Merchant Director
4 months 24 days ago

Did they sell their corporate office? I think this is an investment that a lot of companies may not want to make. For instance, I don’t see a company like Apple moving to this structure but they are making accommodations with their home/office hybrid model.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Why does the HQ look so much better than the majority of Rite Aid’s shabby stores?

As for the concept, it makes sense to me. For many people, the future of work is blended: meeting in person is necessary, but sometimes working remotely is more effective for certain tasks. And in retail, all HQ staff should regularly be visiting and getting out to stores to understand what’s happening on the ground!

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

In doing this, Rite Aid is reducing its real-estate footprint and lowering the associated cost. It is also reducing travel time for its employees. It allows for personal interaction as needed. It indirectly benefits the environment. Until we see some unintended negative consequences of their new way of doing business (made possible only because of the Internet and ancillary technology, and fostered by the pandemic) this is a no-brainer.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

I think it is odd that a retailer boasts about working from home while making their living on the backs of people who do not have that option.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Perfect! I hope to have the chance to tour this new modern headquarters!

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

A terrific concept for all of the noted reasons. Perhaps manufacturers need dedicated physical space for their staffs, although that is questionable. Rite Aid is a retailer whose customers regularly visit. Doesn’t it make sense to encourage your team to get into stores as much as possible? This facility allows for that. It’s hard to make a sale or understand your customer if you’re rooted to your desk in some remote corporate headquarters.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Sounds pretty cool to me. It might be a highly evolved office, but it still sounds like an office to me. An office with an enlightened sense of work and mission. An office that recognizes the dynamics of today’s market. Just because a Tesla is a highly evolved iteration of a Model T doesn’t mean that it’s not still a car. Bottom line: good for Rite Aid for recognizing a whole new work paradigm.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

Rite Aid has raised the bar on remote workforces to position their “office as a destination.”

There are numerous advantages including new employee attraction and associate retention. Offering this new approach to their workforce should also provide a favorable work-life balance and likely reduce overall operating expenses for the company.

There are disadvantages to this concept, however. My short list includes the obvious reduction in face-to-face collaboration and inconsistency and inconvenience in bringing on new hires. I also believe Rite Aid will need to address additional issues such as confidentiality, cybersecurity, and worker productivity.

I believe the flexibility around where and how we work has indeed changed forever. Time will tell if this was the right move at the right time for Rite Aid. My gut suggests it was indeed well-timed and will produce immediate benefit. Longer term, I suspect adjustments will be required.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

This all sounds excellent, as my colleagues have noted.

What I see as missing is the spontaneous collaboration I have found so valuable in the past.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Great! Now all they need to do is fix the stores.
OK, seriously — or maybe more seriously — while I appreciate the thought that went into this, I hope it wasn’t their top priority. (My personal view is it’s a little — or perhaps a lot — too “touchy feely” for me.)

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"Good for Rite Aid for recognizing a whole new work paradigm."

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