When planning your office fit out, one of the biggest challenges you have is the uncertainty of so many different factors. You realise that your office is no longer as effective as it used to be and that it needs changing to help your people become more productive. You know this from looking out at the rows of empty desks, the crowded breakout areas, and the way staff are complaining about being unable to work effectively in the office.
However, the fact remains that there is little data to base your decisions on. All the evidence is anecdotal. And while it may prove that there is a problem, it doesn’t prove exactly what the problem is, much less how to fix it. Your office fit out can cost from hundreds of thousands to millions. As a result, you have to be sure you are making the most effective improvements to your workspace.
This is where workspace consultancy comes in. A workspace consultant will build use qualitative and quantitative analysis to build a full picture of how your staff are using your office. This includes what is working, as well as what isn’t. They then use that data to create insights that will help your office designer create the best possible design for you.
However, 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?
What Does Workspace Consultancy Include?
Every company will offer a different collection of expertise and tools as part of their workplace consultancy. The most common elements are:
Leadership workshops involve speaking with your executive team, as well as leaders from other departments such as HR. They help to define your vision for the space. Using group brainstorms and 1-to-1 interviews, your consultant will analyse the workspace challenges your leadership team are dealing with.
They will also help your leaders to build out a vision for the space. This is not about how many desks and the colour of the chairs, but what it achieves for your company. Whether this is 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 throughout the project, so this is crucial.
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 surveys.
Initial workspace surveys focus mainly on the way staff currently work. Common topics are space utilisation (how many hours do you spend at your desk per week) and role-based (how many hours do you spend working in teams or 2/3 colleagues). Later surveys focus on the kinds of environments that would help staff perform better. This enables your workspace consultant to understand how your people currently use your office. This covers how they work now, how would prefer to work, and most importantly, the gap between. This provides essential insights for your new workspace design which will enable your people to work more effectively.
Staff Engagement Studies
Staff engagement is well known to be a crucial part of personal and company performance. According to research by the Harvard Business Review, an engaged employee is 45% more productive than a satisfied worker. Yet gauging staff engagement can be difficult. The easiest way to measure staff engagement is through anonymous surveys.
Staff engagement surveys differ from workspace surveys in that they ask questions relating to your people’s satisfaction with their work in general, not their office. Common questions include “How do you feel about work today” and “Are you proud of working for [organization]”. This sort of question is very relevant to workspace consultancy. A Steelcase report has shown that “workers who are highly satisfied with various aspects of their workplace also demonstrate higher levels of engagement”.
While surveys may be quick and inexpensive, they do rely on self-reporting, which isn't always accurate. Not all your staff may respond to the survey, and others may not estimate their time accurately. Space utilisation systems, on the other hand, provide reliable, 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. This is incredibly valuable, as it guides how many desks, meeting spaces, etc. you need in your new office. It also indicates ways in which you can improve the productivity of your people, such as installing power in collaboration areas to enable more agile working.
Do I Need Workspace Consultancy?
When prospective clients speak to us about workspace consultancy, the question in the back of their minds is always “is workspace consultancy right for me”. That depends on the motivations behind your project and the certainty you have around the improvements to be made.
If, for example, you are relocating because you have chosen not to renew your lease, and you are happy with the performance of your office, then workspace consultancy is not going to be a good investment. If, on the other hand, you are conscious of falling productivity levels and your staff are complaining that the space does not suit the way they work, then workspace consultancy is worth considering.
Our process 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. This helps 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.