You're considering an office refurbishment or relocation, but are unsure about how to future-proof your decision. You think a workspace consultant may be helpful to make sure you are doing the right thing.
However, as with all consultants, it’s difficult to predict the value they will add. You don’t know if a workspace consultant is right for you, so you want to know what the outcomes are of workspace consultancy.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Every week we speak to companies planning major real estate projects. However, they're wary about the long-term impacts of their decision. They think a workspace consultant may be helpful, but they’re not sure if it's right for them.
In this article, we’ll first explain exactly what workspace consultancy is and what it involves. We’ll then cover the outcomes of a workspace consultancy package, and how to decide if you need workspace consultancy or not. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to decide if workspace consultancy is right for you or not.
What is Workspace Consultancy?
Workspace consultancy is a service that gives you objective data and expert insights to help you make the most of your workspace. A consultant will work with your leadership team to understand what your office needs to achieve for your company. They then use a variety of techniques to gain a detailed understanding of how your people currently use your workspace. This enables them to make recommendations to close the gap between the two.
Your workspace consultant will produce a detailed report. Using primary data and expert insight, they will be able to make valuable recommendations on how to adapt your workspace. These insights will help you reduce your real estate costs, as well as increase staff engagement and productivity.
What Does Workspace Consultancy Include?
Exactly what workspace consultancy includes will depend on your consultant and project scope. That said, the most common parts of workspace consultancy are:
Leadership workshops involve speaking with your executive team, and department leaders to define your vision for the space. Your consultant will analyse the workspace challenges your leadership team is dealing with. They will then help your leaders to define your workspace vision. This is not about how many desks and the colour of the chairs, but what it achieves for your company. This will impact 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 and are quick and convenient. The resulting data 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 the two.
A person’s personality has an impact on their preferred working style, and consequently what they need from your workspace. By catering to this, you can create a space that meets their needs and helps maximise their performance. The most common test used is the DISC profile. If all your people take this test, a workspace consultant will be able to analyse the results. They will then make recommendations to create a design that suits the personalities of your people and teams.
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. However, gauging it can be difficult. The easiest way to measure staff engagement is through anonymous surveys. Staff engagement surveys ask questions relating to your people’s satisfaction with their work in general, not their office. This data gives you a quantitive report of how invested your staff are in your workspace.
Space utilisation systems provide reliable, quantitative data on how your people work. Using cameras and sensors throughout your space, snapshots are taken of occupancy levels over time. 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. It also indicates ways in which you can improve the productivity of your people.
What are the Outcomes From Workspace Consultancy?
The primary outcome of workspace consultancy is a report. This will often be accompanied by a report presentation from the consultant. Follow-up sessions to go through the report in more detail may also be included.
If you are working with a specialist consultant, this will be the end of the process. You will then need to speak to a design and build company to create an office that carries out the report recommendations. Your consultant may also carry out initial space planning. However, you will still need a design and build company to create a full design package and then deliver the project.
If you have used a design and build company for your workspace consultancy package, their workspace strategy and design teams will work closely together to create a full workspace design that meets the needs identified in the report. They will then refurbish or fit out the space as per the design.
Is Workspace Consultancy Right for Me?
When companies ask us about workspace consultancy, a common question is “Do we need consultancy, or can we get straight on with design?”. Proceeding straight to design is usually possible. Some elements like leadership workshops can be carried out by a designer. However, a consultant will be able to give data and insight that will help make the design better. Whether or not workspace consultancy is right for you will depend on 4 key factors:
Company/ Office Size
If your office is less than 5,000 sq/ft, then the payoff of a better-informed design may not be enough to justify the extra investment. However, workspace consultancy is often a good idea for large projects of 20,000 sq/ft +, especially if you are considering moving office. Professional services firms are also more likely to need workspace consultancy. This is because they are much more reliant on the performance of their people.
The reason behind your potential project will also have a major impact on whether you need a workspace consultant or not. If you are happy with your office but the lease is up or it is no longer big enough, then you likely won't need a consultant. On the other hand, if you are having HR challenges like productivity, then a workspace consultant may be valuable.
If you are working on a tight budget, then you may not have sufficient funds for your project to include a workspace consultant. However, a better design will increase the ROI of your project, so you do need to look beyond the upfront cost. Read this article to learn more about workspace consultancy costs.
Some parts of workspace consultancy like leadership workshops don’t take much time. However, space utilisation studies can take weeks or months. If your lease expires soon, you will have to consider whether a full workspace consultancy package is practical.
Workspace Consultancy at Your Company
Workspace consultants can provide a lot of value to your project. They have the knowledge to collect data, the expertise to make recommendations, and the experience to help you avoid mistakes. However, as with all consultants, it is difficult to predict the value they will bring.
Hopefully, you now feel much more confident deciding whether workspace consultancy is right for you or not. If you think it is, head over to our article Consultancy Vs Design & Build Firm: Which Is Best For Office Consultancy? There, you’ll learn how to choose the best type of office consultancy company for your needs.
If workspace consultancy is unnecessary for you, read 5 problems office design can solve. You'll learn about 5 of the toughest HR and leadership challenges and how workspace design can help resolve them.