Real Estate Strategy
Are you uncertain about the long-term future of your office? Perhaps you’re deciding whether to relocate or refurbish, and you’re not sure which is best for you? If so, you’re not alone. Many companies are reluctant to invest in their workspace because they’re unsure what the future looks like. However, you need to maximise the performance of your people, and a great workspace strategy is part of this.
To make sure your office is as successful as possible, you need a workspace strategy. This will provide you with a long-term plan to ensure your workspace supports your company goals and needs.
Every week, we meet with companies preparing to relocate, refurbish, or fit out their offices. When we ask about their workspace strategy, we often get met with blank looks or a superficial document that isn’t nearly comprehensive enough.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly what a workspace strategy is (and isn’t), as well as why your company needs one. By the end, you’ll be ready to create your own workspace strategy to maximise the long-term performance of your people and your real estate.
What is a Workspace Strategy?
A workspace strategy aligns your company’s workspace(s) with your company strategy, culture, and processes. Your workspace involves two of your biggest overhead costs: real estate and staff. You need to make sure you are maximising the performance of these two assets, and a workspace strategy is essential to do this. Your workspace strategy is much more than a high-level plan for your next project. It’s an overall vision and framework for your workspaces over the next 3-10 years.
Your workspace strategy must be closely aligned with your company’s needs. There are 3 key parts to this: strategy, culture, and process. The strategy involves aligning your workspace with your company strategy, as well as your HR and facilities strategies. Culture is making sure that your workspaces reflect and enhance your company values, purpose, and personality. The process ensures your workspaces suit how your company operates.
Every company and workforce is unique, so your workspace strategy needs to be unique, too. What works for another company may not work for you. It’s also important to ensure that your strategy is a living, relevant plan. While it shouldn’t change too frequently, it can’t be static, as otherwise it will become irrelevant or even damaging.
There are 7 key elements of a good workspace strategy: working model, location & size, layout & environments, aesthetic design, technology, culture, and cost. Here, we’ll explain what each one is, and where it fits into your overall workspace strategy.
Your working model is how and where your people work – in the office or hybrid. If you have adopted hybrid working, you will also need to consider what type of hybrid working, and how this will evolve over the next few years. Your working model has likely already been decided by your company leadership independent of the workspace strategy. Nevertheless, it is a crucial part of your workspace strategy, as it will have a huge impact on how, when, and where your people work.
Location & Size
Your workspace strategy looks beyond the next project and considers the next 3-10 years. As a result, a key part of this is the location and size of your office(s). You need to consider what your needs are now, and how they will change over time. For example, you may need to take out a larger office in a new area because you are planning to hire more staff there.
Layout & Environments
One of the most important elements of your workspace strategy is the layout of your offices and the types of environments you will have within them. You should first consider what your people will do when in the office – what tasks, what size teams, and how they will collaborate. You can then plan for office layouts to enable this. For example, you may want to include work pods as one of your environment types to give somewhere for focussed work.
What your workspaces look like is an important part of your workspace strategy. This includes the design features, colour schemes, and finishes. Your offices don’t have to look identical, but they do all have to be tailored to your culture, so they will look similar. If all your offices look completely different, the performance of your people will likely vary too.
Technology is advancing at breakneck speed. Our workspaces are becoming ever more dependent on advanced technology. The technology part of your workspace strategy includes both work technology (eg laptops) and space technology (eg access control). We can’t predict how technology will evolve over the coming years, but you do need a clear plan for what kinds of technology you will adopt.
Culture is a crucial component of your workspace strategy. Companies with a strong culture see a 400% increase in revenue growth compared to companies with a weak culture. Your workplace plays a big role in three of the 9 components of company culture: communication, environment, and wellbeing. You need a clear plan for the next 3-10 years about how your workspace will evolve to keep up with and drive improvements in your company’s culture.
Cost is an important part of your workspace strategy. Your workspace strategy concerns your two biggest overheads: real estate and staff. As a result, you need a plan to keep these costs under control. A workspace strategy will also help balance the needs of cost and performance, maximising your project ROI. Having a strategy that outlines cost expectations will help you avoid making damaging short-term decisions that prioritise cost at the detriment of staff performance.
Why You Need a Workspace Strategy
If you have an upcoming design & build project, you may be reluctant to spend the time and effort required to create a workspace strategy. However, you will benefit by having a long-term workspace strategy in place to guide your upcoming project. There are 4 key benefits of having a workspace strategy.
A workspace strategy enables you to look beyond the next project, and build toward your long-term needs. It gives you a clear vision for your workspace and a clear framework for getting there. As a result, you are less likely to make short-term decisions driven by cost or convenience, which in the long term are very damaging to the performance of your people. Your workspace strategy can reinforce and assist your overall company strategy.
Creating a workspace strategy can also save you significant costs over the next 10 years. While you may need the assistance of a workspace consultant to develop your workspace strategy, this investment will prove it's worth many times over in the coming years. Such a strategy will reduce the likelihood of making bad decisions that damage the performance of your people and company. It will also enable you to value-engineer projects without reducing performance.
It takes a lot of time and effort to create a comprehensive workspace strategy. However, this effort will pay dividends over time. A workspace strategy provides you with a great basis for project planning. You already know about how much space you need, the environments your people require, the space aesthetic, and the rough budget. You have far fewer decisions to make, which will save you a lot of time. It will also mean you know when you have to make decisions, which will help you not start project planning too late.
Improved Staff Performance
The most important benefit of a good workspace strategy is the resulting improvement in the performance of your people. Because you have put the effort and expertise into creating a workspace strategy, the design of your spaces will match the needs of your people. As a result, they will be more productive and collaborate better, improving the return on your workspace investment.
Your Workspace Strategy
A workspace strategy is an important tool to give you a long-term plan for your workspace(s). It ensures your workspace is aligned with your overall company strategy, culture and processes. A good workspace strategy enables you to create environments that optimise the productivity of your people and can adapt to the changing needs of your company. As a result, you can increase the performance of your staff while minimising your real estate risk.
The fundamental purpose of a workspace strategy is to give you the framework to design and build workspaces that are created for your company – no one else’s. The designs of other company’s offices may be amazing, but if they don’t meet the needs of your people and company, then they aren’t right for you. Your workspace strategy needs to be your own – a plan that suits your company strategy, culture, and processes.
Now that you know exactly what a workspace strategy is and why you need one, you understand how important it is to have a long-term plan for your workspace. You’re ready to create your workspace strategy to give your company a clear vision and framework for your future workspace.