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Modern Office Champion Peter Doran Whips Corporate Space into Shape

When Nokia and Siemens AG launched a roughly $19 billion communications infrastructure joint venture known as Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) in June 2007, they threw in 20 million sq. ft. spread across 120 countries.

Peter Doran, head of global real estate for Espoo, Finland-based NSN, was assigned the task of determining how the joint venture’s 60,000 workers could best use the unwieldy portfolio. To wring out efficiency, he began implementing a flexible workplace plan that NSN termed “the modern office.”

The strategy analyzes how and where employees do most of their work in an effort to match them with the right space, says Doran, 43. That could mean creating collaboration rooms for project teams or making desk-sharing arrangements for sales people or others who are frequently out in the field.

Ultimately the goal is to create a work environment that promotes the company’s mission statement — to build an agile, innovative and courageous culture that puts results ahead of hierarchy.

“When you use a word that has an emotional attachment to it like ‘courage,’ it means we’re really trying to be on the leading edge and question the traditional ways of doing things,” says Doran, who is based in the United Kingdom. “The flexible workplace strategy ties in very directly to how the company wants to work.”

Over the last 20 months, Doran and his real estate team have eliminated more than 4.1 million sq. ft. from NSN’s real estate portfolio — primarily leased office space. NSN wouldn’t release exact figures, but the cuts account for a significant contribution to NSN’s company-wide effort to cleave $2.5 billion in costs by the end of 2008, Doran says.

Doran’s real estate peers took note of the early returns. Doran was a finalist for the CoreNetGlobal U.K. corporate executive of the year award in 2008. The honor recognizes individuals who demonstrate outstanding leadership in corporate real estate.

He’s hardly resting on his laurels and has analyzed 21% of the NSN workforce through the modern office analysis to determine their space needs, and he hopes to assess the remaining workers by the end of 2010.

“This business is very dynamic,” Doran says, “so we need to continually understand the changes taking place.”

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