MSD Lebanon – Enabling future forward thinking people to make a difference


Enabling future forward thinking people to make a difference

How MSD Lebanon dreamed up and built their workplace of the future in 10 months

“I want a more engaging management [that’s] better connected with the people. [We should be] acting as visible leaders.”

Okan Isikci, Managing Director, Levant



Merck & Co. (known as MSD outside of USA and Canada) is a multinational pharmaceutical company with employees and offices worldwide. As a company that prides itself in science and innovation, Merck has always been on the lookout for more effective ways of leveraging their workspaces for scientists and staff alike. In 2017, MSD’s Lebanon office in Beirut had an opportunity to relocate. They decided to partner with Veldhoen + Company to explore how they could create a workplace of the future to support an energetic and motivated workforce that’s making a difference. To Okan Isikci, the local Managing Director, the office is more than just the physical space that associates work in. The workspace should be designed to help breakdown silos and help people better connect with each other.

“What we are achieving as a business, and how we operate, could not have been done in the old environment.”

Okan Isikci, Managing Director, Levant



The local leadership team is very experienced and had success in attracting talents of diverse nationalities and age ranges. Yet as the transformation at Merck starts to happen, Isikci worried that the existing leadership style had become too cautious and conservative for the ambitious, young, and diverse workforce.


Merck’s Global Real Estate team initially felt hesitant about implementing a workplace of the future concept in the Middle East. The Middle Eastern work culture is characterised by the incredibly fluid and complex external environment, and as it was, many teams in the MSD Lebanon office had already developed close-knit connections within their immediate teams. To some, the new concept brought about curiosity but also uncertainty and fear. The leadership team, on the other hand, had started to recognise that in order for business to succeed, people from different teams had to come together with greater ease, and the physical office environment should facilitate these connections.

Challenges with time and distance:

Three Veldhoen + Company consultants, Millie Letori, Pieter-Bas Dekkers, and Luc Kamperman set out to work with the MSD Lebanon team. All three consultants were based in different geographical locations: Australia; the UK; and the US. On top of this geographical challenge, it soon became apparent there was also a time challenge. Due to external reasons the new MS Lebanon office had to be ready within a year. In this case, the geographical distance, time zone difference, and cultural differences added further complexity to the project.

Challenges with people’s perception of the office:

Although over 85% of employees believed that the design of their workplace is important to them, only slightly over half (58%) thought that it created an enjoyable environment to work in. Although many employees (79%) considered that the culture of the Lebanon office was supportive to working in a mobile/flexible way, they felt limited by the design of the workplace and technology tools and infrastructure.

I am very confident that it’ll be used as a catalyst for transformation across the region. It’s all about the emotional attachment people have developed here so quickly, and it should help us better promote the corporate vision for delivering workplace of the future offices across our full portfolio.”

Fabrice Piroird, Director, Facilities EEMEA



  • 100% employees agreed that the office was “a place I’m proud to bring visitors to,” post-move


  • The workplace “enables us (me) to work productively” increased by 20% on average.


  • Over 96% employees believed that the current workspace contributes to a sense of community at work.


  • 96% of employees thought that the design of their workplace encouraged them to choose work settings/locations that best supported the different tasks post-move.


  • 76% of employees preferred or strongly preferred working in an activity-based way over old ways of working.

Project gallery

Some images from our work in this space

Architect: Tetris Architects

Watch more of MSD Lebanon’s inspirational story below.

The impact has been really tremendous. The Middle Eastern people always had warmth, hospitality, connection between each other. But in the office space that we moved into, this has been increased even more. You see a connected workforce. It brings people closer to each other. It takes out the layers between the management team, to the representatives, to the assistants, to the facility workers…It just creates a positive mood to be in the office.

Okan Isikci, Managing Director, Levant

Download the MSD case study

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