Biogen Idec CEO on Move Back to Cambridge: “We’re Working on It”

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the company last fall, when the company cut 650 jobs, narrowed its R&D focus to home in more on neurology, and closed its San Diego facility. Scangos hired a couple of well-regarded former biotech CEOs, Doug Williams and Steve Holtzman, to head up Biogen’s R&D and business development operations, respectively. The company enjoyed some good luck as well when it got impressive clinical trial data from a new oral drug for multiple sclerosis, called BG-12, which helped push its stock over $100 a share briefly in April. Biogen stock closed yesterday at $93.76—up 40 percent so far this year.

With investors relatively happy, Scangos has had some time to think about the environment he wants to create to make employees productive. During my visit to the temporary office at 10 Cambridge Center, he explained what he wants to accomplish with a new office arrangement.

The space at 10 Cambridge Center is temporary, he emphasized, but it’s also a bit of a petri dish for the kind of office climate he wants to foster. “Whether we move or don’t move, I want to reconfigure how people sit and talk in a lot more open space, like you see out here,” Scangos says. “The traditional office pattern is that the executives have all their offices on the outside walls, and all the admins and junior people are on inside walls with no exposure to natural light. It seems very hierarchical to me. It seems to be not a good environment for the majority of people here.”

He continued, “This is a temporary place to hang a hat, but it’s also a trial of this concept. You can see the admins out there, they don’t have cubes anymore. It’s more open. They have some things in their sight line, so there’s some privacy, but it’s more open, a more efficient use of space. It’s more collaborative.”

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