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Prime Therapeutics will only use its new Eagan headquarters as a collboration space when employees return. Photo: Prime Therapeutics

Prime Therapeutics has unveiled a post-COVID-19 strategy for how its employees will work in the future. It could be a sign that big corporations won't need nearly as much office space as they did before.

Driving the news: The company said late last week it will use a "hub and home" hybrid model in which employees will use their home offices for individual work and then go into the company's Eagan headquarters for collaboration and socialization.

State of play: Prime Therapeutics, a pharmacy benefits manager, employs around 2,200 people in the Twin Cities. It recently finished a 400,000 square foot office in Eagan in 2018 and 2019.

Context: Last summer the company polled its employees and found that 93% of them were OK or better working from home, but that two-thirds wanted to also spend time at the office.

What's new: Under the hub and home strategy, most local employees will continue working from home 50% to 65% of the time, with their teams meeting in the office on certain days of the week or month.

  • There will be no more assigned desks at the building, Kim Gibson, assistant vice president of real estate and facilities, told Nick. Instead, rooms will have movable furniture so different teams can reconfigure the space.
  • "What we're learning is that employees really want to do most of their focus work at home and when they come into the office they want to meet with their teams," Gibson said. "So having dedicated stations and offices really doesn't serve that kind of a model in the future."

The bigger picture: With employees only coming in about a third of the time, Prime Therapeutics only needs about two-thirds of the office space it had required previously.

  • The company has decided not to renew its lease for 180,000 square feet at Bloomington's Normandale Lake Office Park, where about 700 employees had worked.

The bottom line: A hybrid model with less need for space is not a great sign for a Twin Cities office market that already had a 20% vacancy rate.

  • If other companies follow a similar model — and many have said they're switching to a hybrid model — there could be more even more vacancies as leases expire.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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