Preparing Your Real Estate for the Future
68% of businesses are planning to shift their workspace strategy in the next 12 months. That means 2 in every 3 companies are undergoing a major change in their HR and/or real estate strategies. If you’re one of those, you need to plan your next steps very carefully. You’re taking a step that may have major implications for the success of your company.
For almost every company, staffing and real estate are the 2 highest overheads. For professional services firms, they are the two biggest costs overall. They both have a major impact on your performance as a company, so you need to get your workspace strategy right.
As a full-service design & build company, we are often approached by companies looking for help with their workspace strategy. One of their biggest challenges is creating a plan that gives them the confidence to act, yet doesn’t risk them wasting time and money in the future.
While creating a future-proof workspace strategy looks different for every company, there are several common themes. In this article, we’ll go through 5 of the most important things you need to create a future-proof workspace strategy. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to create a workspace strategy that’s right for you now and ready for your future.
1) Consider Your Working Model
The most important part of your workspace strategy is your working model. This describes where, how, and when your people work. This needs to be the first part of your workspace strategy that you decide, as everything else will depend on this decision. It's crucial that you take an unbiased approach, considering the needs and preferences of the staff and company alike.
If your workspace strategy is to be future-proof, this is a crucial step. Over the last few years, there have been major changes for many companies, and working model preferences will continue to evolve. As a result, you need to choose a model that suits your current and future needs, as well as allowing yourself the flexibility to change that in time.
For most companies, the best option will be some form of hybrid working. Even if you want staff in the office the majority of the time, allowing them some form of flexibility has significant benefits. To learn how to choose your working model, read Office vs Hybrid vs Remote – Top 3 Working Models 2023.
2) Choose Property Model
Once you have decided on your working model, you need to choose a property portfolio strategy to support that. There are many options besides long-term traditional leases.
You need to factor in your company’s overall strategy. Areas to consider include headcount growth, or expansion into new geographic markets. These will affect your property requirements. A successful workspace strategy suits your working model. It also balances staff performance, risk exposure, and cost.
To be future-proof, you also need to maintain that balance in the years to come. With an uncertain economic climate and evolving staff priorities, flexibility is crucial. This could involve taking up leases with more lease breaks, or leasing a core office space and then using co-working space to suit fluctuating requirements. To learn more about the different property options, read Coworking v Serviced v Lease v Freehold Office - Which Is Best For Me?
3) Smart Workspace Capability
Technology is becoming ever more central to the way staff and companies operate. This is also a rapidly changing landscape. Only 1 in 4 companies regard their technology package as mature. Workspace technology involves so much more than the individual technology used by staff, such as laptops. It includes team technology such as hybrid meeting suites and collaboration facilities. It also extends to smart building technology, such as climate management and access control.
For your workspace strategy to be future-proof, it needs to consider the changing role and types of technology. It also needs to contain a specific plan to update your workspace technology over time. The available technology will change very rapidly, so it’s important to focus on long-term changes over short-term trends. Flexibility is crucial, as technology will evolve in unpredictable ways. Adapting to that will be necessary to get the most out of your staff and real estate.
4) Consider Collaboration
Successful teamwork is the bedrock of every company. Companies that promote collaborative working are 5 times as likely to be high-performing. No workspace strategy is complete without considering how your people work and how that will change over time. This is a central part of your HR strategy, but it needs to be included in your workspace strategy, as it is a crucial component of staff and real estate performance.
Your future-proof workspace strategy needs to detail how your workspace will facilitate and prioritise collaboration – both now and in the future. This wouldn’t need to be a separate section of your workspace strategy. However, it would need to be taken into account in the working model, real estate portfolio, and technology policies.
5) Design for Culture
Culture is another component of workspace strategy that is closely connected to your HR strategy. It’s often ignored in planning because it is so hard to define, let alone measure or improve. However, its importance is impossible to ignore. As one IBM CEO said, “Culture isn't just one aspect of the game, it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value”.
As markets become more competitive and the economy evolves, collaboration will only become even more important. You need to plan to support and foster it at your company. If your workspace strategy doesn’t support your culture, all the effort and investment of the other stages will be wasted.
Your office needs to be a space that reflects and enhances your culture. This involves much more than a logo in the reception and a few walls in the company colours. It includes the layout, the features, the finishes, and amenities – the entire experience your people have when in the space. To learn more about creating a space that reflects and enhances your culture, read this article.
Future Proofing Your Workspace Strategy
A workspace strategy is essential for your company. It enables you to look beyond your current needs and develop a cohesive plan that brings your overall company strategy, as well as your HR and real estate strategies, into one unified plan for your workspace. However, in such tumultuous times, creating a meaningful workspace strategy is very challenging. You can’t just create a plan that suits the here and now. To be future-proof, it has to suit the present and what you think the culture will look like. It also needs to be flexible enough to adapt to an uncertain future.
Now that you know the 5 essential steps, you’re ready to create a workspace strategy that’s right for you and your future. This strategy will give you the confidence to act decisively, yet the flexibility to make necessary adaptations. By maximising the performance of two of your biggest costs, a future-proof workspace strategy will set your company up for success, both now and in the future.
The first step of this is to choose your working model. For more help to do that, download the Working Model Guide. You’ll learn how good each working model is according to 7 key criteria, as well as example situations for each working model, and key factors to make the right choice for you. If you’re looking to make your workspace strategy even better, avoid these common mistakes.