If you work in business leadership, human resources or office management, there’s a good chance that managing your people and your workspace are two of your biggest challenges. With your people now using the office completely differently to the way they did before, it is a huge challenge to know how to adapt.
While many of the short-term workspace changes brought about by the pandemic are now history, some changes are here to stay. The biggest change is hybrid working, but virtual meetings, increased awareness of wellbeing and the demise of the personal desk are all significant.
With all these changes happening around you, it can be difficult to know what to do with your office. Should we refurbish it? Relocate? Leave it as it is? At Zentura we’ve spent the last 14 years helping companies across the UK solve some of their toughest challenges through workspace consultancy. Working with dozens of clients and industry experts over recent months has given us a detailed insight into the top real estate challenges that they face, and the best ways to solve them.
Are you struggling to decide what to do with your office? Do you want to know what the future of your office looks like? Read on to discover the 4 most pressing workspace problems that companies are facing, and how workspace consultancy can help you solve them.
At the height of the pandemic, with remote working and unexpected success, it appeared that the days of the office were numbered. As time has gone on, however, companies and staff have realised the lack of connection to the company and clunky teamwork are serious problems. Remote working becomes less and less effective over time. It’s one thing to do it for a short period with an existing team, but to maintain culture and integrate new employees virtually is incredibly difficult.
The office is more important than ever, but its role has changed. With hybrid working, staff tend to complete all their focussed work from home. They mainly come into the office to get what they can’t get at home – collaboration. This has changed the role of the office from a desk-oriented work hub to a teamwork-oriented collaboration hub.
This fundamental change has caused a lot of confusion for many business leaders as to what their office is actually supposed to do. This is where workspace consultancy comes in. Your workspace consultant can work with your leadership team to discover and define the vision for your office. Using group brainstorms and 1-to-1 interviews, your consultant will analyse the workspace challenges your leadership team are dealing with.
Building out your workplace vision is not about how many desks and the colour of the chairs, but what your workspace achieves for your company. This may be improved collaboration, a smart building that positions you ahead of the competition, or whatever your needs are. Building a defined and unified vision will guide every decision you make thereafter, so this is crucial.
Once you have set your vision and workspace strategy, the next step is to decide on the best space for you. Is your current office suitable? Does it need refurbishment? Do you need to move to another location entirely? Workspace consultancy is also crucial here, to compare the way your people work currently with your vision for the future, and to help you turn that vision into reality.
There are several key factors that will help you decide if you need to relocate your office, and if so, where to. Two of the most important are:
Over the last 3 years, entire boroughs have transformed to suit new industries and communities. It’s possible your ideal location from 2019 is no longer worth the investment. With the commute no longer compulsory, transport is more important than ever – if your office is difficult to get to, staff just won’t want to come in.
Space is one thing that you can’t change in your existing office, though there are several options. If you have too much space, then you may be able to split off part of it into a sublet space, not only reducing wasted space but generating additional income. On the other hand, not enough space doesn’t necessarily mean you have to relocate. You may be able to lease additional space within your existing building.
To learn more about whether you are better to refurbish or move office, read our article: Office Fit Out vs Office Refurbishment – Which is Right For Me?
Your workspace consultant will be able to work with you through these key topics to help you decide whether to move or not. If you do, they will then be able to work with specialist commercial real estate agents to find an office that meets all your requirements.
Real Estate Costs
Real estate is the second highest cost most companies face, after staff. Every company faces the challenge of balancing these two investments. Managing the costs of each without hurting the performance of the other is a huge challenge. Workspace consultancy can help by giving you the data you need to create the best workspace possible. You will be able to maximise the performance of your people when they're in your office.
Most professional services companies spend 10-15% of annual revenue on real estate. However, the average organization has 30-50% more real estate than it needs. This means you could be wasting more than 5% of your annual revenue on office space you don’t need!
Depending on your current design, you may be able to make a space-saving of around 20-40% by moving to a hybrid working model. This means you could relocate to a new space of the right size and save costs. Alternatively, you could create a sublet space within your existing office, generating extra income.
With hybrid working having skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, many companies have great swathes of desks sitting unused. Meanwhile, their collaboration spaces are often crowded. As we explained in the introduction, there has been a fundamental shift in the way your people use your office. If your office doesn’t change to match that, their productivity will be seriously limited. If all you have is rows of desks and a few boardrooms, how can your staff collaborate?
A workspace consultant can use a variety of techniques to analyse how your people work. The first is workspace surveys. Sending out online workspace surveys to all your staff is an excellent way to include everyone in your workspace. Surveys gain a diverse range of perspectives, are quick to launch and convenient to fill in. Many programmes run multiple rounds of surveys, building on the results from previous rounds. Questions will centre around how your people work currently. Later surveys focus on the kinds of environments that would help staff perform better.
The next stage will be to use space utilisation software. These systems provide quantitative data on how your people work. Using cameras, sensors and trackers placed throughout your space, snapshots are taken of occupancy levels throughout the day and week. This builds up a detailed picture of exactly how your people use the office.
All this information combined is incredibly valuable, as it will enable your consultant to calculate how much space you need. It also indicates ways in which you can improve the productivity of your people, such as adding collaboration areas to enable more teamwork.
Solving Your Workspace Problems
Any one of these 4 challenges can be a serious problem for business leaders, HR, and office management. A muddled vision for the future of your office will lead to inaction or wrong action when trying to improve your office. As a result, the performance of your people will be severely limited. Making sure you are in the right space or finding the right one if you’re not, is almost impossible if you can’t be confident about your requirements. Trying to manage your real estate costs is also very difficult if you don’t know whether what you’re cutting is waste or essential resources that will harm the performance of your company. Attempting to create a space that improves the performance of your people is impossible if you don’t know how they use the space at the moment, and what type of office would suit their needs best.
Defining your needs is an essential first step. When thinking about their workspace many companies are unsure where to start. They jump into the design phase, looking for inspiration from other companies, without doing the groundwork of what their workplace needs to achieve for them. Engaging with a workspace consultant will enable you to make sure you are making the best possible decisions on the future of your workspace.
For many people, workspace consultancy remains a bit of a mystery. So what exactly does it include, and is it a worthwhile investment for your company? To find out, check out our articles, What is Workplace Consultancy and What Does Workspace Consultancy Cost?
At Zentura, our workspace consultancy service helps you understand your office and your people. we collect measurable and cultural insights into your office space and your people. The results enable you to make intelligent data-informed decisions, helping you to streamline costs whilst increasing employee engagement and wellbeing. Our service is scalable to meet your requirements, timescales and budget. We can help you ensure a smarter, optimised workspace with more productive people. To explore your needs and how we can help you, reach out today.