Now that we’re living with COVID-19, real estate and workplace executives are under pressure not only to adapt the office for today but to redesign it for the future. And that can be intimidating. But the flip-side of risk is opportunity – so we’re here to help you achieve success by nailing the future workplace strategy for your business.
This may be the first time that such a powerful spotlight has rested on real estate and workplace executives. Surrounded by change and uncertainty, disconnected from colleagues, and under scrutiny, you must create a safe working environment for today while also planning your future office space and design requirements, even though very little seems clear right now.
As tough as that is, this is an opportunity to contribute very visibly to your company’s recovery and future growth. This is your moment to raise your own personal profile – but it could go either way! So how can you maximise your chances of success?
How to de-risk your future office strategy
No one can be absolutely certain what the future holds, and without that certainty you can’t be sure how your future office should function and look. But what you can do is de-risk your future workplace strategy as far as possible:
Don’t go it alone – Work your network; talk openly and honestly to others in your position. And find a workspace design partner you can trust.
Get internal data you can use – Some businesses have so much new data about their needs that they just can’t interpret it; others don’t have any. Work with a strategic partner to accurately measure the changing needs of your employees and the business, to inform your strategy and evidence your eventual business case.
Look at what’s trending – Explore what other businesses, strategists, futurists and analysts are saying about the future workplace across the economy, across your industry, and in your city/country.
Make precise calculations – Use predictive analytics and space/budget calculators to determine the future office footprint you’ll need based on how many people will be in, and when, and how often.
Record all your learnings – Keep a clear and precise record of all your research and strategising, so you can return to the detail later (for your own sake) and to evidence your business case.
Feed what you learn into a workplace strategy brief – Even if that brief is only aimed at yourself initially, formalise what your research and calculations tell you by turning it into a set of requirements.
Consider your real estate options – Weigh up your commitments against your changing needs – for example, you might still want to move into a certain building, but only take half the space. Or you might instead go for somewhere smaller, less central and cheaper, and adopt a hub-and-spoke approach. Double-check with every landlord what their responsibilities are versus yours, and whether they’ll adapt their space for the workplace strategy you choose.
Build in flexibility – Since no one knows what the future holds, a year or 10 years down the line, you need a workspace and a strategy which can adapt. The model you choose may be absolutely the right one, but it needs to be flexible enough to evolve with your changing circumstances.
Build a solid business case – Whatever you propose to your board, make sure it includes some options: if the board feels more comfortable with something more traditional but you prefer something more radical, offer both and outline the relative merits. Accompany each with your rationale, along with the pros and cos – financial, employee wellbeing, flexibility, etc. (Check back next week, as we’ll be publishing an article all about how to make a great business case).
Perhaps by now you’ve guessed that Unispace can help you with every one of the steps here – and many more besides.
Our new framework for the future workplace, Propeller, has been well-received by large companies looking for a solution: “Thankfully we didn't proceed with our workplace changes before COVID,” said one large retailer. “Propeller has completely changed the way we’re thinking."