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The Nature Conservancy

Case Study

Strategic Design & Implementation LOCATION











Workplace strategy for the leading non-profit champion of conservation TYPE Workplace SERVICES Facility Needs Assessment Strategic Planning Schematic Design Design Development Construction Administration Interior Design Furniture Design & Specification

CHALLENGE | Develop a strategic master plan a global environmental organization that align its operational footprint with its mission to “conserve the land and waters on which all life depends”. CONTEXT | In 2006, TNC California had offices scattered across the state. Offices were established and dismantled as needed to support professionals hired for specific projects and initiatives. Its expansion beyond land acquisition into education, outreach, advocacy, and policymaking called for a different set of resources and organizational structure. The chapter needed to reexamine its operations and develop a strategy to manage its workforce centers and align them with employee usage patterns and organizational activities

© 2017 MKThink


Lead Strategist, MKThink Chloe Lauer focuses her career on optimizing the interface between people and their environments to elevate the human experience. For more than a decade, she has worked with leading K-12, higher education, cultural and government institutions to guide strategic change with valuable impact.


Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy, California Chapter TNC California aspires to act with continuity of purpose in everything we do, from the focus of our conservation efforts to the allocation of our resources.

APPROACH | MKThink did an in-depth assessment to collect qualitative and quantitative data on the Chapter’s statewide facilities and operations. The project team conducted six-weeks of observations and staff interviews at 6 locations to survey utilization, occupancy, organizational processes, and employee work habits. With a custom iPad app, they inventoried the space characteristics of each site. Facilitations with chapter leadership pinpointed facility issues and delineated organizational goals. Insights drawn from this assessment outlined the parameters, criteria, and evaluation metrics for a long-term Strategic Master Plan. ANALYTIC FINDINGS • 65% of employees work out of the office 60% of the time • Redundancy of field offices • Space allocations misaligned with office usage patterns • Need for collaborative and flexible workspaces • Inconspicuousness of offices fails to broadcast mission STRATEGY | The strategy team proposed a hub-and-spoke model to classify offices as hubs or regional offices. Design templates define and standardize the spatial criteria for the two types with flexibility to adapt to the particular characteristics of each office. The baseline design is an open office layout that offers a variety of flexible, collaborative workspaces to align with employee needs and usage patterns. Hub offices serve as geographic centers, equipped with amenities to support their respective functions: • San Francisco: Chapter Headquarters • Sacramento: Policymaking • Los Angeles: Philanthropy This systems-thinking approach consolidates and redistributes offices to streamline the Chapter’s operational footprint and support its organizational needs.

The Nature Conservancy: Strategic Design & Implementation

© 2017 MKThink

6 Month Access to The Nature Conservancy 120

Total Number of Workstations: 107


Unique Card Entries

100 90 80

Average Number Unique Users (Non-Holidays): 54.3

70 60 50 40 30 20 10







Key card data mapped to usage patterns to workstations revealed that only 78% are in use during peak times.

A systems-thinking approach to location strategy informed a hub-and-spoke model, which reduced the statewide office footprint 80%.

The Nature Conservancy: Strategic Design & Implementation

Š 2017 MKThink

The open office layout eliminated the maze-like navigation, a painpoint of the SF office, and enabled natural daylighting and climate control.

Observations of employee work patterns and modes informed the design of rooms that best respond to user needs.

The Nature Conservancy: Strategic Design & Implementation

Š 2017 MKThink

Made of retractable glass walls, the conference room can be collapsed and stowed away when not in use.

RESULT | TNC California adopted MKThink’s proposed Strategic Master Plan, which provides a comprehensive blueprint for spatial decision-making, site selection, and facilities design. The implemented strategy resulted in: • Enhanced Hub template implemented in San Francisco Chapter headquarters - Reduced office footprint 30% from 1.5 floors to 1 - Avoided annual lease expense of $247,000 ($2,950,000 over 10 years) • Regional office template implemented in Chico, Monterey, Ventura, and Mt. Shasta • Hub template implemented in Sacramento and Los Angeles • Consolidation of office network into 15 offices statewide • $800,000 annual OPex savings • $5 million cost avoidance

The Nature Conservancy: Strategic Design & Implementation

© 2017 MKThink

1500 Sansome Street | San Francisco, California 94111 | | 415.420.0888

The Nature Conservancy  

Strategic Design & Implementation

The Nature Conservancy  

Strategic Design & Implementation