Rite Aid, headquartered in East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County, plans to relocate its headquarters to Philadelphia as part of a new focus on remote work.
The national drugstore chain said this month that it will be reimagining its workplace model to do away with office spaces and instead focus on “in-person collaboration and company gatherings” at a new headquarters in Philadelphia.
As part of the move, Rite Aid plans to open “regional collaboration centers” across the country that will allow its teams to work together when needed. Rite Aid hasn’t announced where these hubs will be located but has confirmed that one will be in the midstate.
The move to this remote work focus was spurred by an internal survey among Rite Aid’s corporate associates, which found that a vast majority preferred working from home, according to a Rite Aid press release.
“We’re changing our business from the inside out, and our reimagined workplace is the latest exciting step toward the future of this company,” said Heyward Donigan, CEO of Rite Aid. “We believe in remote work, and as we lean into it for the long term, we are investing in a physical footprint that will facilitate its best version. We’ve heard directly from our associates that teams want and need to meet in-person, and we think we’ve found the right balance between the flexibility of remote work and the power of on-site collaboration.”
The pharmacy chain currently plans to locate its new headquarters to Philadelphia’s Navy Yard district. The new location would feature space for teams across Rite Aid’s various businesses, including Rite Aid retail, Elixir, Health Dialog and Bartell Drugs.
“This is about building a reimagined workplace, where our associates have the flexibility they prefer and also have innovative, modern and new spaces that demonstrates a new Rite Aid,” said Brad Ducey, senior manager of external communications at Rite Aid.
Rite Aid doesn’t expect to see any layoffs as part of the move to Philadelphia and instead is actively hiring and looking to grow its corporate team of 700, according to Ducey.
The move will allow Rite Aid to occupy a smaller headquarters while still encouraging face to face communication with its associates through the collaboration centers. The remote-work-first attitude will also allow the company to more easily recruit talent no matter their location, said Jim Peters, COO at Rite Aid.
“This transformation of our workforce brings Rite Aid into the modern era of work. We can recruit the best talent regardless of their location, and we can give our corporate associates the freedom and flexibility that today’s workers crave,” said Peters. “Our new headquarters and collaboration centers will have a unifying effect on our enterprise and serve as an important space for our teams to be together when needed.”
Rite Aid operates 2,500 retail pharmacy locations across 17 states. It was founded in Scranton in 1962.
Rite Aid has yet to announce a timeline for its move out of its current headquarters at 30 Hunter Lane, East Pennsboro Township, or what it intends to do with the space.
If the pharmacy chain does plan to sell the property, any potential buyer would find a modern, well-kept workplace with easy access to downtown Harrisburg, said George Tyson, president of East Pennsboro Township’s Board of Commissioners.
“It’s a great facility, strategically located and surrounded by areas in the midst of development or in the cusp of development,” said Tyson. “Those properties have been snatched up because of the proximity. People that know the area know how strategic it is.”
Tyson said that Rite Aid has been a great neighbor to the region during its decades in Cumberland County but given the number of significant changes that the business has undergone in recent years, such as its selling of 1,932 Rite Aid stores and three distribution centers to Walgreens in 2017, it was not surprising that the company had plans for a change in headquarters.
“There has always been some awareness that the changes with Rite Aid were probably not finished,” he said. “Given the landscape of the business they are in and previous transactions, we knew that continued changes were going to take place we just didn’t know what they were.”