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Colonial Life, Prisma sharing renovated headquarters

Human Resources
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After a $19.1 million renovation of its sprawling headquarters off Interstate 126, Colonial Life realized the supplemental insurance company still needed one thing: a neighbor.

Prisma Health, the new health care organization formed by the combination of Palmetto Health and Greenville Health System, is leasing excess space on the more than 500,000 square feet of space in multiple buildings on the Colonial Life campus. Around 400 Prisma employees are working there now, with plans to increase that number to 800 by next summer.

“Even before we moved to this layout, we had about 55% occupancy on the campus, and not because we had not been growing,” Colonial Life CEO Tim Arnold said. “We’ve been growing fairly rapidly, but we just had more space than we needed.”

A $19.1 million renovation of Colonial Life's headquarters created an expansive cafeteria and eating area, one of the common areas the company now shares with Prisma Health employees. (Photo/Provided)Arnold said Colonial Life had been looking for a roommate for a couple of years before Prisma representatives contacted the company.

“It’s a great fit,” Arnold said. “They do a similar kind of work to the work that we do overall with the folks that are in the common campus. I think it gives our building a new vibrancy because there’s more people in the building now. There’s a little bit of additional energy, a new vibe.”

Prisma employees work in corporate support service roles, and patients will not receive services on the campus.

Colonial Life’s new neighbors moved into shiny new digs that include a 7,634-square-foot, state-of-the-art weight room, an expansive cafeteria with a 7,195-square-foot seating area, multiple serving options and a coffee bar. Those areas are shared between employees of both companies.

“We’re happy to have them here, and they’ve expressed interest in being a long-term partner,” Arnold said. “It’s great.”

The renovation also created a 4,300-square-foot atrium and open workspaces, eliminating elements such as the large, private office that Arnold had — and does not miss.

“I was in an office that I called a cave. It was just intimidating, and it was a throwback to a different era,” he said. “People didn’t want to come in and talk. I love the opportunity to engage with people and to bump into people casually.”

That increased interaction has had tangible benefits, Arnold believes.

“What I like about it from an employee perspective is it truly is more collaborative,” he said. “We also see people in the common areas bumping into each other and ending up having a conversation about how to better serve our customers. I think it gives our employees a better opportunity to see what others in the company do and how that affects our ability to serve customers overall.”

Colonial Life has around 1,300 employees, Arnold said, with 900 or so in the building on a given day.  Those numbers can at times contribute to the one common complaint that has cropped up post-renovation.

“The noise factor is a bit of an issue,” Arnold said. “But people who have more of a need to have quiet are now using headphones. Some people are very creative, and they created these headphones where they can put red tape on them or a red light meaning don’t bother me right now, and then they can take them off or change them to green when it’s OK to interrupt them. That’s just a handful of people. What we are finding is that people are finding ways to adapt when they are troubled by the noise.

“ … I think by creating more collaboration, creating more opportunities for people to bump into each other, we have more opportunity to serve our customers across the functions better than we have in the past when people sat in a silo and didn’t really talk to people outside their area.”

Contact Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.

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