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Workplace Strategy and Design needs to evolve right now

Published on : 1/25/21
  • Using space management software and our integrated systems platform to optimise workplace design and drive real estate strategy. Sodexo's head of strategy & portfolio planning, Amanda Nijjar, sets out the need for investment.

    Over the last decade levels of occupation in the workplace have intensified both in terms of people allocated to offices and desks per square metre of space. Consequently, office occupiers struggle to design the right combination of workplace settings to optimise both productivity and utilisation.

    The mass experiment in home working caused by Covid-19 and researched by organisations such as Leesman, has proven that some tasks are just as easy and, in some instances, better performed remotely. Coupled with the pressure on Real Estate Directors and organisations to deliver financial performance from property this means that workplace strategy and design needs to evolve right now. 

    With the growing evidence of the impact of home working on productivity, organisations are now reflecting on what role the traditional office will have going forward so that employees can continue to enjoy the advantages of working remotely, including reduced travelling and the space for focused thinking time.

    Travel to the office is likely to be prompted by an individual’s role and their need to collaborate or work physically alongside others e.g. team huddles, workshops, learning from others, with individuals also benefitting from wider social interactions and the positive effect that this has on employee wellbeing. 

    Workplace Design Strategy: Re-thinking the need for a blended working environment

    It is widely recognised through the 3-30-300 rule, devised by JLL, that average real estate spend by companies per square foot per year is £3 on utilities, £30 on rent and £300 on payroll, and that whilst a reduction in space can deliver rent and utilities savings, organisations that consider both the physical and psychological aspects of employee experience to make decisions that boost productivity will deliver the biggest financial return.

    workplace strategy and average real estate spend

    Not only will organisations be paying for capacity they no longer need, but the space they do have is unlikely to offer the right working environment for the tasks that will bring employees back into the workplace. Being able to analyse space in depth is key in responding to pressures on real estate budgets through driving both the reduction in space and the design of retained space.

    What is Workplace Strategy and Design? How it works?

    Using our technical expertise and space management system we can quickly analyse the space under occupation across a client’s portfolio detailing the types of workplace settings that are available, where they are located and the actual and proportion of space allocated to each. This can be supplemented with utilisation data, e.g. HR data, ad-hoc occupancy surveys, IT logins, access systems, desk or other sensors - all of which can be associated with the plans and locations in the space management system.

    Through this in-depth analysis of space and usage we can rapidly understand which properties work well, where layouts need to be reviewed and properties that can potentially be disposed. Workplace design is likely to be more modular allowing layouts to flex in response to our growing knowledge and understanding of performance and use.

    Benefits of Workplace Design

    Sodexo has implemented this technology with a client occupying more than 10 million square feet of space across Britain covering office and retail locations and are planning to roll out to other clients. It is from this expertise and real life experiences that we answer the question: what benefits can be derived from accurately analysing workplace space and utilisation?

    Benefits of Workplace Strategy and Design Optimisation include:

    5 benefits chart

    1. Real State Optimisation and Cost Reduction: the ability to analyse space and influence workplace design, and easily identify under-utilised and vacant space, which can be reviewed and managed. 

    2. Improve Talent Acquisition and Retantion: understanding where best to target recruitment campaigns where there is under-utilised space to working with agents to sublet space where it is viable and economic to do so. 

    3. Better Output and Insights: the provision of robust information, and ease of reporting obligations including the annual State of the Estate reporting for all government departments.

    4. Less Environmental Impact, More Sustainability: Added value is realised by blending this rich source of space and utilisation data with other attributes across our integrated systems platform, e.g. lease events, running costs, building condition, environmental performance, customer work orders etc. 

    5. Improve Performance: interactive dashboards are developed so that property teams have access to one version of their real estate data in one place and can build a consistent understanding of property performance. Through this enhanced and cohesive insight, we can shape the real estate portfolio strategy with our clients and be sure that the best properties, with the right workplace designs and levels of occupancy are retained whilst lower performing sites are disposed. 

    Occupiers who are seriously considering how and where their workforce will return after Covid-19 while looking to drive reductions in space will benefit from investing in both a space management system and a more data-driven environment in general. This will enable management of short-term and longer term needs ensuring that they have the right workplace design to support collaborative activity and can develop optimised portfolio strategies based on fact.

    Find out Sodexo's Integrator Property Management Services


    Amanda Nijjar

    Amanda Nijjar, Strategy & Portfolio Planning

    I lead a team of portfolio planning professionals that create estate network strategies and develop the resulting business cases for approval. We undertake capacity planning and workplace design. With over ten year’s corporate real estate strategic planning experience, modelling and creating strategies and business cases for large corporate occupiers. » Learn more on Amanda's role