Zurich Relocation Case Study

The story behind the Lead IT Architect role in one of the world's largest private construction projects.

How to Build a New Facility and Relocate Your Workforce

Zurich Insurance North America began planning for the US's largest headquarter build out and relocation of its North American Headquarters. This 6-part video series documents the decision and strategy to make their digital and workspace transformation a success. Follow along as Jennifer Kyung, Dean Pipes, and Andrew Chow discuss all the critical components and factors that organizations should consider in a relocation build out and digital workplace strategy.

6 Key Components for Success

Videos that tell the whole story

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Project Scope by Fiber Optic Glass

9,816 strands of fiber optic glass was used to distribute technology signals within the campus which when stretched out equates to 2,818,232 feet (534 miles). 

  • 2,858 Stacked Eiffel Towers 
  • 1,630 Stacked Willis Towers 
  • Construct 123 Homes


Project Scope by Signaling Wires

131, 536 individual signaling wires were used to distribute technology signals with the campus which when stretched out equates to 14,261,998 feet (2,701 miles).

  • 14,464 Stacked Eiffel Towers
  • 8,249 Stacked Willis Towers
  • Construct 53 Boeing 747 Jetliners


Project Scope Collective 

Collectively, a total of 197,304 individual strands of fiber and copper wire connections were required to deliver the solutions within the project.

Aspiration for New HQ Buildout

Business Case and Challenges 

Zurich had significant challenges in improving their current environment including new networking, physical security, as well as, energy and space efficiency.  After evaluating all options, Zurich chose to build a new campus and worked with architects to create an open campus that provided employees with the feeling of strength and stability while maintaining a forward looking vision. 

How Do You Select an IT Consultant?

Eliminating IT Silos

Zurich desired a collaborative partner that understood the construction process and could also integrate across IT silos such as structured cabling, audio visual, and networking. Zurich chose Netrix who acted as the Lead IT Architect (Senior Principal IT Consultant) for the project and dissolved the IT silos to bring IT together and maximize the user experience. 

It's important to bring a Lead IT Architect into the project early. The perfect time is when you start test fits but have not finalized them so that you have enough business functions to expand upon and the ability to change and build an appropriate budget.  

Guiding Principles &  Steering Committee

Establishing Guidelines and Creating Focus

To develop Zurich's guiding principals, they put together a steering committee with leaders from technology, human resources, and other key business functions. The guiding principals for the headquarters included: sustainability, building brand identity and vision, recruiting and retention of top talent, and flexibility to make sure they could expand and change with their workforce over time. 

Zurich also created a set of guardrails to operate within so that they could quickly and easily test decisions. These design decisions were then tied back to the guiding principals. This enabled Zurich to keep alignment with the work the business had already started moving forward with while keeping focused on the overall goals and vision of the organization.  

Conceptual and Final Designs

Designing in Real-Time

The challenge is to operate within an ever-evolving technology landscape and testing and evaluating technologies was important. Conceptual design wasn't difficult because the guiding principals helped to navigate the construction process itself. 

The construction industry is used to operating from a set of static requirements and not from, a real-time, test environment. The collaboration with the design team was extremely important for the success of the project. Zurich created global standards that could be carried forward to other offices around the world. 

Critical Project Components

Important Project Takeaways

The most important aspects of the critical components for this project were:  the selection of the team; understanding of the cost of AV; the growth and expansion of new technology over time; bringing in a Lead IT Architect prior to design development; appropriately breaking out IT budgeting and responsibility; listening to the employees through surveys, focus groups, and business work streams to make their jobs easier.

Most build outs focus on the the furniture, amount of space people have to do their jobs, and the size of conference rooms. But in order to truly deliver business results within the new headquarters, Zurich knew the importance of technology and it's impact and understood what it took to support the experience of their end users. Dean Pipes focused on what he calls the "Consumer Bill of Rights" which states that,  "People should be able to do everything at the office as easily as they already do from their homes." 


Evaluating Affect on Employees Today

Increasing Employee Collaboration

Employees are using open collaboration spaces including social hubs, enclaves, and conference center, as well as, the cafeteria and coffee bar. Zurich employees and guests are able to pick up their laptops and move to any place in the building and work flexibly by themselves or with their colleagues to get work done. Zurich has noticed an increase with their employees networking and connecting with one another in the more mobile work environment.

Want to Learn More about the Role of a Lead IT Architect for Your Workplace Transformation? 

The emergence of the digital workplace has changed the way we work. Companies are building out new office space with the expectations that technology will be seamless, consumer grade, and properly budgeted from day one. Whether relocating or re-stacking your office, building a technology enabled workspace takes strategic planning. Who owns the IT portions ultimately depends on the end user experience you are striving to achieve.

Watch Webinar 

Presented by:  

Mike Gleason
Netrix Partner, Director of Digital Workplace Strategy


Zurich Insurance NA HQ
1299 Zurich Way, ZAIC
Schaumburg, IL 60196

Story Tellers

Jennifer Kyung

Jennifer Kyung

The Zurich North America Headquarters business lead responsible for leading the design, development, change management, and communications on behalf of the Zurich employees and leadership team. 

Dean Pipes

Dean Pipes

The Chief Innovation Architect for Zurich globally and lead on the IT work stream for the Zurich North American Headquarters Project.

Andrew Chow

Andrew Chow

Partner at Netrix responsible for digital workplace transformation and retained to be the Senior Principal IT Consultant for the Zurich North American Headquarters Project. 

Collaboration, Workplace and Technology: The Integration Challenge

In today’s day and age, technology allows for more interconnectivity than ever. Wi-Fi is available nearly everywhere, whether we are sitting in a coffee shop or aboard an airplane. We can remotely monitor our homes camera systems, and change the thermostat while away. We can even have face-to-face chats with family members across the ocean with a touch of a button. So why, with all of the modern technology available today, do we still have so many technology issues in the corporate setting?

IT Budgeting for New Office Build Outs or Relocation: Timing is Everything

Creating an IT budget early in the relocation and construction process enables the Stakeholders to establish rough orders of magnitude on how much everything will cost. These costs are based on initial perceived guiding principles, decisions, and assumptions. When developing a budget, Netrix first has conversations with key Stakeholders to discover and understand your business, the technology leveraged within the workflow on a daily basis, adopted business recovery options, and future plans for the business. 

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