Office towers out, campuses in

Israel Discount Bank campus credit: Eyal Tagar
Israel Discount Bank campus credit: Eyal Tagar

As Mobileye inaugurates its NIS 1 billion Jerusalem campus, "Globes" looks at the growing trend, in which Israel's big companies are preferring campuses to office towers.

Mobileye - investment of more than NIS 1 billion

Mobileye Global Inc. (Nasdaq: MBLY) has invested more than NIS 1 billion in its new campus in Har Hotzvim in Jerusalem. The Israeli advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) company has until now been based in another office building in Har Hotzvim and also has offices in Ramat Gan and elsewhere worldwide but it decided to build its new headquarters in Jerusalem and focus all its main functions there. Intel, which bought Mobileye in 2017 for $15.3 billion, says the new campus is Jerusalem's biggest development center.

The campus hit the headlines even before it was opened, after the company initially planned to build a 30-floor high-rise but after already beginning the earthworks, 20-floors were cancelled and shifted into other buildings on the planned campus. Mobileye explained that the aim of the changes was so that employees could better enjoy the amenities and have easier access to the company's facilities and services. But in November 2022, Afcon, which was building the campus, reported that a jump in the costs of construction had caused it losses of NIS 50 million.

Covering 128,000 square meters, the campus houses 2,500 employees and was designed by Moshe Zur Architects and Town Planners.

Glass exterior and a huge 40 meter high entrance

Mobileye has still not shown the interior of the building to the public but some employees have already moved there and reported good work experiences. The campus has ten floors above ground and another seven underground floors and according to the company includes 65 meeting rooms. There is a 1,500 square meter garden roof, 1,400 square meters of research laboratories, an auditorium and two dining halls. Vered Gindi was the interior designer.

Mobileye's building has a glass exterior with a huge 40 meter high entrance. Interior design encourages employees to meet while on the move with bridges linking the various parts of the buildings and staircases encouraging walking between floors.

Access to public transport: There are no nearby railway stations or access to the light rail. There are bus lines and the Har Hotzvim administration has a Whatsapp group for people seeking carpool rides. In another five years the light rail Blue Line will stop outside the building.

LEED Platinum Green Building Certification

Green building: In April 2023, the company announced that the new building had received LEED Platinum Green Building Certification. Mobileye said that it had been awarded the highest mark possible for savings in water, innovation and other attributes like energy savings and gardens that save water. The company said, "During planning, Mobileye was careful about environmentally friendly planning, for example in the air conditioning system, making sure that blinds filter the radiation, and also electricity savings in the data center beneath the building.

The announcement said that the company has achieved a 68% reduction in electricity savings, more than double the target it set itself and the electricity used is produced from renewable sources. The announcement added that as far as possible recycled materials were used in construction including 100% of the steel, and the greenery in the work spaces is watered with the water from the air conditioners. There is parking for bicycles and lockers for those arriving by bike, and charging points for electric vehicles.

To date, only seven buildings in Israel have received LEED Platinum certification, and in Jerusalem there is only one other building with such a standard - the new National Library building. While every new building inevitably has an environmental footprint, Mobileye say that they have strived to reduce it as much as possible: "In the planning of the new building, we tested every possible parameter to reduce our carbon footprint and create a building as 'clean' as possible," wrote Mobileye COO Kobi Ohayon on the company's blog.

Mobileye has sought to put a helipad on the roof but the neighbors have objected, and the matter is still under discussion.

Israel Discount Bank - Open space even for VPs The new headquarters campus of Israel Discount Bank (TASE: DSCT) in the Elef District of west Rishon Lezion covers 150,000 square meters for 4,000 employees and was built by Solel Boneh and designed by Eldar Architects. The campus is characterized by an open space design for all managers from vice presidents down.

The Elef district of Rishon Lezion is still under construction and Discount Bank has been one of the first to move there. The campus has four glass buildings separated by a large yard with place to sit and ornamental fish pools. There is one building for Discount Bank employees, and one building for Mercantile Discount employees. A third building was set aside for Israel Credit Cards (CAL) but with the company being sold off, it will now be housed elsewhere. The fourth building will be comprised of meetings rooms for visiting guests and customers.

A major change with the new campus will be the shift to open space working. All employees from vice president and down will work in open areas and the building only has closed rooms for meetings and telephone conversations.

Discount explains that the project has taken a decade to be realized. Discount EVP, head of banking division Assaf Eldar, who as Discount Leasing CEO was initially responsible for the project, says, "At the end of 2015, we asked ourselves what will bother most employees in 2025.

"We started from the organizational culture point of view. This is not real estate from our perspective. We sought two important things. The first was transport with an emphasis on parking and public transport. We sought a location where the Ayalon Highway, Israel Railways and as many light rail lines as possible met. By the Elef district the Red Line and the Green Line from Herzliya will run in the future.

"The second thing was the employees' experience. We wanted an innovative and advanced campus but with an organizational culture that supports change and growth. The employees' experience on the campus is completely different from an employee in a tower. This is not a classic work area but something that creates an experience.

"The Elef district, unlike other industrial zones, is a mixed use zone and there will also be housing. It was very important for us that when an employee leaves work at the end of the day they won't go out into a dim and deserted industrial area but rather somewhere that people are strolling around with children and the dog.

"The functional approach of the project is the question of how we move. How do I get to work, enter work, how do I move within the work? There are accessible stairs. The stairs are really used on a massive scale. In two buildings there are huge staircases and in the third it is less noticeable, and really you can see that if something is not attractive, it draws less people to it.

"In the context of food, we have shifted to restaurants rather than dining rooms. We have two suppliers for dairy Moshik Roth's Karnaf, and for meat, Aviv Moshe's Sodexo.

"When you build a project like this and look ahead, it's clear to all of us that my ability to hire employees in the world of technology is less good than classic fintech or tech rivals, so I need to close the gap on them."

In addition to the shared work spaces, each floor has a restaurant and meeting rooms of different sizes, and outside there is an amphitheater for gatherings and performances.

"We created an application through which you can consume the services of the campus. It's like Microsoft and Amdocs. Within the application you have the ability to report problems, order food, schedule meetings, use Teams. The idea was to make a technological leap."

"Our vision included flexible planning. We understood that anything that is not modular and receptive limits the ability to change in the future. Therefore, we built the project so that all meeting rooms are made of industrialized elements and not of plaster, and can be dismantled and reassembled when necessary. The electrical and communication infrastructures do not come down from the ceiling and do not run next to the windows."

How has it been to move employees into open spaces?

"Covid was a catalyst for many changes. But generally, any effort to define that only 2% will get offices always creates antagonism. On the day that the decision was taken in the group that the management also sits in an open space, in the same type of chair and same type of table as all employees, and members of the management moved, from an office with a secretary at the door, to a desk outside - discussions ended. Personal example would be an understated concept to describe the revolution.

"Additionally, we did a lot of organizational preparation ahead of the move. We set up a transition administration that is responsible for integration. 2023 was the year of the move and this year we will conduct surveys and we will see.

"Without a doubt, the level of friction between managers and employees has risen, and in my opinion this friction flattens a lot of hierarchy and improves the level of organizational dynamics. Few would want to return to the old world.

Employees leave a demand area but receive more

The Elef district is still a noisy and dusty construction site and the commercial premises in the area still haven't opened but in the southern part of the campus a commercial area is being built in which there will be a supermarket, pharmacy and more. "The aim is to provide employees the opportunity to take home things that they need," says Eldar.

"The construction itself took 51 months - four and a quarter years, a fast time for a project of this size. But when we bought the land in 2016, we assumed that in 2023 the state of the infrastructure would already be more advanced. This is critical, because it was part of our message to employees. The bridge (which is supposed to connect the railway station to the Elef district) has also not been completed yet and this makes it less pleasant to walk down the street.

"But the gap compared with the prices in Tel Aviv makes it possible to give employees additional things, because obviously I wouldn't waste so much public space in Tel Aviv, and that's without talking about municipal tax. The compensation for leaving areas of demand is reflected in the extras that the campus has for the welfare of employees."

Green construction: "Studies show that two things increase productivity: natural light and the color green. We invested here in a very unique aluminum and glass system, full double skin, and it allowed us to use completely transparent glass. The light washes onto the floor because there are no rooms," says Eldar. "One of the biggest investments in construction is the aluminum facade, which produces significant insulation, which reduces cooling and heating costs, but also creates transparency. Apart from that, there is of course infrastructure for those who come by bicycle, such as lockers," he says.

Israel Discount Bank's campus has LEED Gold certification and has received the international FITWELL rating to certify the work environment in the building from the perspective of a healthy lifestyle for employees.

Special features include a running track, and the bank's art collection on public display on a patio on the eighth floor. There will also be a sculpture garden that will be open to the public.

Amdocs - "The aim wasn't to save but to do things right."

The campus of Israeli business software giant Amdocs Ltd. (Nasdaq: DOX) in the Ra'anana industrial zone has 65,000 square meters of offices on a 43 dunam (10.75 acres) site, for 3,000 employees. Amdoc invested $350 million in building the campus, which was designed by Mosh Zur Architects and Town Planners.

The Amdocs campus is located on edge of the Ra'anana industrial zone, near Road 4, overlooking orchards and fields. It is built in a park and consists of four buildings, each of which has a high patio that lets light inside. Among other things, it has a separate complex for hosting clients and analysts, as well as a 300-seat auditorium, and seven restaurants.

The campus was built after ten years of planning, and the company moved there from the building at the Kfar Saba junction which it had occupied for about 20 years. The move involved a significant change for the employees. There are no more offices and rooms, and everyone including managers sits in open spaces, "neighborhoods", and there are meeting rooms for private conversations.

The company says that 90% of the employees do not have their own permanent desk, and they simply turn up with a laptop and connect. The offices have additional, less formal places where you can sit and work, such as shared benches in the kitchen and chairs on the lawn.

"Designed and built according to our values"

"This is the only Amdocs building in the world that we own," says Amdocs director global services EMEA Galit Falach-Stanyetzky. "It was designed and built according to our values, so that it would not be too closed and oppressive nor too excessive. Amdocs personnel and especially the previous CEO Eli Gelman were deeply involved in the planning, in every detail. It was not a 'launch and forget' project."

A second building with a separate entrance was designed in case the company needs to expand, and is currently leased to the Mixer chain. Another section of the campus will soon also be offered for rent, since hybrid work has left some of the space vacant. In fact, on Thursday when I visit the office, it is mostly empty.

How has it been to move employees, and yourself to a shared space?

Falach-Stanyetzky: There was an event for the employees where all the seating options were presented, and we accepted feedback from them on things that bothered them in the previous offices. We made sure that all the floors looked the same to avoid competition between employees.

"We have learned from experience. In the past, managers would sit near the outside of the building and benefit from the light and the view, and the employees would sit in the interior. Today there are no offices for the managers and there is daylight in the center of the floor at all hours. There is a double skin so that it is not too hot or cold near the windows.

"We didn't want employees to feel that we had taken something away from them. The goal was not to save but to do things right. People were concerned about noise, but the tone automatically goes down when you sit together, and we also invested in good headphones.

"We planned to make the move in one go, but because of Covid, things were delayed and we decided to treat it as an opportunity. We transferred some employees and learned from their experience. For example, we raised partitions by five centimeters. At first, we didn't open the restaurants yet, but provided 10Bis food delivery, and then we realized that it was very good that we decided to go for on-site catering, and now there are no couriers walking around with food all day."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on March 28, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Israel Discount Bank campus credit: Eyal Tagar
Israel Discount Bank campus credit: Eyal Tagar
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