Deliberate presence: Evernorth hopes the large Morris Plains facility will attract some of its employees – from time to time
Evernorth CEO Eric Palmer is a realist of the modern workplace. He knows that the employees of the company that serves as Cigna’s health services line get a lot of work done side by side. But he also knows that it doesn’t have to happen every day.
“We want to give our employees the tools and resources to do their job best – and a lot of their work can be done from home,” he said. “It can be more convenient for people to connect from home with their colleagues and with other sites. And we support that.
“There’s real value in walking into a room with a whiteboard, looking someone in the eye,” he said. “So we want to have the spaces to enable that effectively and efficiently – and in many ways it’s the embodiment of that in terms of just having a place to connect.”
Palmer talks about the large dining room that offers several dining options in a 200,000 square foot building in Morris Plains in which the company has taken a controlling interest. The area, which seats a few hundred people, is across from Evernorth Labs, which will be assisting employees and hosting meetings with customers. It’s near the gym (free for employees) and next to an outdoor space that includes dining and lounging areas on one side of the building and a basketball court on the other. And it’s all close to walking trails, some of which can take employees to the heart of the borough, which is less than a mile away.
It’s an impressive campus for Evernorth employees – many of whom worked at Franklin Lakes and saw the new site for the first time on Tuesday, at a groundbreaking ceremony and a company barbecue.
But, if you think these amenities are there to “encourage” a full-time return to the office, Palmer will quickly shoot down the idea.
Who is Evernorth?
Evernorth, a Cigna company, is a data-driven health services company created in the fall of 2020 to accelerate the delivery of innovative and flexible solutions to meet the diverse needs of health plans, employers and government organizations and millions of patients. To do this, the company brings together a broad range of health services capabilities, including pharmaceutical solutions, benefits management, care solutions and delivery, data and analytics, and those of system partners. health and beyond.
Evernorth strives to coordinate the best services, programs and partnerships, transforming them into comprehensive solutions that generate the most value for clients, customers and patients.
“It’s a beautiful space, but it’s not designed to be a place where you come in every day from 9 to 5,” he said. “It’s designed to be a place where we collaborate more, bring people together and work together.”
This is all part of the company’s “useful presence” strategy.
Palmer said the beauty of the space is that it allows all lines of the business to work together effortlessly. Gathering areas and collaboration spaces are everywhere.
“We have a lot of different functions and disciplines that are present here,” he said. “Being able to bring together and connect these different disciplines, problem solve or work with our clients or welcome external partners to help bring things together is part of the space’s raison d’être.”
But not all at once. The numbers, in fact, confirm the premise.
The company – headquartered in Connecticut (with Cigna) and has a large facility in St. Louis – has about 1,500 employees who could work from the Morris Plains site.
Evernorth officials estimate they could squeeze nearly 900 on campus at any one time, but feel more comfortable with a total of about half.
“On typical days, being several hundred would be fine,” Palmer said.
The space, located on Route 53 (115 Tabor Road) towards Denville, was originally designed for Honeywell, which held a grand opening in the fall of 2015. Honeywell, however, has it to barely used. Soon after, he decided to move his top leadership to Charlotte, North Carolina.
Honeywell still maintains a small presence in the building, as does Global Aerospace. The three companies now share a campus that was built to be a traditional global headquarters but has been transformed into a modern workplace: a class A space to attract employees…but only once in a while.
ROI-NJ spoke with Palmer on a number of topics. Here’s a bit more from the interview, edited for space and clarity:
ROI: Evernorth had been looking for a new space for some time. How lucky were you to find a space like this just 26 miles from where you were going?
The pre-built lab space that came with the facility at 115 Tabor Road in Morris Plains was very appealing to Evernorth. The company has transformed the space into Evernorth Labs, which acts as an idea accelerator that:
- Delves into metrics that help its clients unlock valuable actionable insights;
- Bringing together its customers – including employers, health plans and government entities – with clinicians, behavioral scientists and corporate designers to challenge industry norms;
- Prototype and create real-world solutions to deliver better patient outcomes.
Eric Palmer: We were really lucky to be able to find a lot of things that already exist here – and in a (familiar) area. It’s not like we’re asking people to go to a totally new territory or space. It worked well with the footprint of the few thousand employees we have in New Jersey, while being accessible with good amenities.
ROI: You were faced with a question that CEOs and businesses here regularly face: Should we stay in New Jersey or go somewhere else? Explain why you chose to stay.
PE: We have the possibility of locating people in different places, (but) our collaborators also have the possibility of registering in other places. So there is an element of support here for our team that is here. And there’s an awful lot of business and an awful lot of people to connect and meet with (in this region). It’s a great location for all businesses that have decision makers in New Jersey and New York.
We also have a long history here. We operate a very large home delivery pharmacy in southern New Jersey. This is another dimension of our presence in the state. So having the suite of our services in a reasonably packed area is valuable.
ROI: Talk about the importance of technology to the business.
PE: Technology is a real is a real focus here. Our (director of information, Chris LePre) is based here. This technological connectivity is really important. It’s an enduring part of the presence we’ve had here. If you go back, the different companies that have been acquired that have hooked the most in New Jersey have been around this technological dimension.
ROI: Tell us what kind of companies you want to do business with.
PE: Evernorth serves four different major constituencies:
- We serve health insurers and we have relationships with truly all of the major health insurers.
- We serve employers, that is to say people whose job it is to provide services. We serve them with behavioral care capabilities, pharmaceutical and other benefit capabilities.
- We serve the government directly. We have a relationship with the Department of Defense, where we provide prescription benefits for the Department of Defense.
- And then we serve health care systems. Think of the doctor who administers injections of specialty drugs in his or her office or hospitals that operate specialty pharmacies. We help them succeed in these kinds of businesses.
Ultimately, our products and services reach approximately 180 million Americans each year.