OUR CHANGE MANAGEMENT EXPERT GUEST

Director of Cushman & Wakefield’s Total Workplace team, Carly Flapper is deeply experienced in change management, developing the workplace, and employee engagement initiatives that aid clients in producing positive outcomes for the workforce.

Carly has been a key member of C&W since 2014. Before corporate real estate, Carly had a 10-year career in the performing arts. Her expertise in working with performers in physical space has given her a unique perspective to ever-changing workplace.

Listen to Carly and Sabine in the following clips on Change Management:

 

 

CHANGE MANAGEMENT IS LIKE THE THEATRE

“The idea is not to say to people: ‘Hey, this is your job, do what I tell you. We [should] say you’re our most valuable resource. You’re going to have your own process by which you adapt your behaviors to be successful in this new environment.” – Carly Flapper

 

 

Interestingly, Carly thinks change management it is almost the exact same process as directing actors. Because directing actors in modern times is not about dictating to someone how they should walk and talk. It is about choosing people with great artistry and trusting their point of view.

Carly’s goal is in her new business role is to create an atmosphere where personnel trust their own creativity, their own instincts. She believes in providing safety and inspiration to allow the best self to emerge.

When her process begins, it is the first day of rehearsal. Everyone is trying to get to opening night, which is the implementation of whatever the end goal is. People are going to have their own processes by which they adapt behaviors to be successful in a new environment.

Give your valued employees the resources and positive atmosphere by which to go on a change journey and ultimately find your own place and whatever this new normal is.

 

 

COMPANIES SHOULD HAVE A CONCIERGE

“If employees only come in [weekly or monthly] and they’re remote the rest of that time, that process of having caught up on the work environment actually needs to be much more on demand.” – Carly Flapper

 

 

Having community managers or a company concierge will give employees a better experience. If they’re unsure of something, there’s someone there to spot that.

Do you remember how to use the mobile printer? Does the coffee machine seem different? There’s a new security procedure?

What if you go to work after working remotely and someone knows you by name? A concierge will help employees refresh their knowledge of the office. This type of expertise at a leadership and strategy building level is crucial.

The organizations that have the resources to incorporate it into the day to day will have really high returns on customer experience and productivity.

 

 

CHANGE MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION

“Where do we spend our dollars? How much space should we have? What expertise do we need to build in order to be knowledgeable on the subject to even think about what our strategy should be?” -Carly Flapper

 

 

Resources are tight for a lot of organizations, and there’s competition for talent. Companies are losing employees, yet trying to win new ones.

How does that work? The stresses and challenges for people in talent acquisition is possibly higher than it’s been in a few generations. It requires new skills.

Carly says it’s really an interesting but challenging moment. Pre-COVID, many were experts at everything happening within the four walls of their buildings. Then we all went home. It blew that paradigm right open, and then it included what’s happening within those four walls and also within the four walls of employees’ homes.

 

 

REDUCING REAL ESTATE OR RESHAPING GEOGRAPHY?

“I think in principle, I wouldn’t advocate that people think about just dumping space. I think it’s about realigning, re-strategizing and rebalancing. A lot of people are finding that the reasons to come in are now different.” -Carly Flapper

 

 

Carly says it’s about repurposing. Maybe your office includes the same amount of space, maybe it requires more. For organizations that were more traditional before and didn’t have the mobility and the flexibility, that genie is not going back in the bottle. People want to be able to be mobile.

Before Covid, many organizations were needing to hire in a specific geography, because they were asking people to come in every day. Post Covid, what’s possible for people is wide open. They can really find the best fit, and they can be anywhere in the world.

A Harvard Business Review study says companies only plan to reduce physical office space by about 2%. But based on what Carly sees, companies are giving up more than that.

 

 

CHANGE MANAGEMENT IS ADAPTING TO A POST COVID WORLD

“I think there’s seems to be organizations out there that are taking this moment as an opportunity to pivot, to rethink about how they can seize the moment, organize in a new way, invest in their places, and in their people to go forward with some courage.” – Carly Flapper

 

 

Carly is seeing a lot of conservative organizations not wanting to invest or spend anything. They are concerned about the amount of space that they’re using and considering ditching real estate without investing in the space that’s going to remain.

They want to, in many ways, return to how it was pre-COVID. That’s the real divergence that Carly is seeing. And for the most part, it’s the leadership level that is succeeding in envisioning the future or failing to adapt.

 

 

CHANGE MANAGEMENT IS CHANGE PERSPECTIVE

Cushman and Wakefield has really strong data of post pandemic behavior. Some of the things have been consistent and some have shifted since the early pandemic days.

One of the main findings is that work has continued to happen. People continue to feel that they’ve been productive, both as individuals and in groups actually, since going home. The data is saying that yes, some types of collaboration should happen in person, but they don’t necessarily all need to.

An assumption that is wrong is that older generations have struggled during the time of Covid, perhaps due to a conception that they’re not as tech savvy.

But actually, when it comes to experience in the various experience measures, the data says older generations have had an overall better experience during this time, perhaps due to better home environments.

 

 

OUR FUTURE OF HR EXPERT

Enrique Rubio is an expert in the future of HR. He came to the United States from Venezuela as a Fulbright Scholar and has an Executive Master’s from The Maxwell School.

In 2017, he realized the gap between technology and human resources was widening. With a background in electrical engineering, he decided to hold conversations for technology and its workforce at Hacking HR. These events started in person at co-working spaces, but quickly moved online. Due to COVID, Enrique’s events now register upwards of 40,000 people. Because they’re free, there’s no barrier for entry.

Listen to the following clips for Enrique’s future of HR.

 

COVID REVEALED THE FUTURE OF HR

“Why did we have to wait for COVID to show us that we need to talk about this? We should have been addressing all these topics before.” – Enrique Rubio

 

Workplace experience conversations are nothing new.

Enrique notes that conversations about mental health at work began before COVID, but not in a meaningful way. Conversations about hybrid schedules were being had in the 2010s, but it wasn’t until COVID hit that these topics came to the forefront.

People are now looking for meaning, purpose, and impact through their work. In other words, they don’t want jobs to be a transaction. They want their work to make the world a better place. If not, devotion is a tall order. All of these conversations existed before the pandemic. COVID has simply amplified them.

 

STOP SAYING “RETURN TO WORK”

“What do you think we were doing in the past couple of years, [drinking] on the beach in Cancun? We have been working our butts off over the past couple of years.” – Enrique Rubio

 

Enrique wants two expressions to go away.

The first is ‘return to normal.’ Normal was changing before COVID, and that word is now out the window for good. Why return to something that isn’t working? Leaders claim to want change, however they won’t upgrade their leadership style to manage hybrid schedules.

The second is ‘return to work’. People are significantly overworked, not just from their jobs, but their home life, which are now intertwined. Whether it be dealing with COVID, or having children learning online at home, people are working harder than ever. Thus, Enrique says to call it ‘return to the office’.

Enrique acknowledges society is undergoing major unrest. He hopes that on the other side, light shines upon everybody, not just the few. These new principles will shape the future of work.

 

DESIGNING THE PHYSICAL SPACE DEFINES FOR THE FUTURE

“One question I’m challenging [people] to think about is: why would people come to your physical space? If you had that office, why would they go there instead of staying at home?” – Enrique Rubio

 

What experience are you offering them in the building that is different from their homes? At home, they sit in slippers and shorts. They don’t commute. To get them to the office, you have to provide them with something that is significantly more valuable.

This requires a complete rethinking of the physical space. That conversation has two layers, employee experience, and human experience. Enrique illustrates the two are very connected to the workplace experience. More and more, questions of office space and corporate real estate are reporting to HR.

 

DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT EMPLOYEES

“If you assume that people want to come back to the office, that’s a mistake. [It’s also] a mistake to assume that people want to work from home” – Enrique Rubio

 

Some people want to return to the office, some want to work from home. Some want a mix of both. People want flexibility.

For example, expats who work in different countries, they draw their social interactions from colleagues at work. And if they’re home alone, they’re bored. They want to see people. For some, working at home can be detrimental to their mental health.

Enrique urges to never assume. Ask questions, talk to people.

 

RETHINK THE HR EXPERIENCE FOR EMPLOYEE OPTIMIZATION

“Jobs and work are different things, people find an outlet to their creativity, their purpose, their passion, their engagement, their energy, through work.” – Enrique Rubio

 

If your employees have a negative work experience, you may presume they don’t like to work, however what they don’t really like is their jobs. People like to work. The challenge is for people to like where they work.

Recent studies find the people that have the poorest relationship with their managers are the people that are either asking to be transferred to other units, or they’re leaving those jobs.

Therefore, Enrique wants companies to redesign the work experience as an outlet for creativity and a provider of purpose. It’s a big change. It is simply a shift in focus. And if that is done, the future will be much more valuable.

 

CONCLUSION FOR THE FUTURE OF HR

Enrique says the workplace is like an onion. The inner layer is employee experience, which improves the lives of employees and allows opportunity for growth. Another layer is the workplace experience, which is the specific experience they get from the physical workplace. Above all, to think differently about workplace experience means thinking differently about what it means to be together in a physical space.

Enrique doesn’t want people to come to the office and do the same thing they could do from home. If they can avoid a two-hour commute, it’s better for the employee, it’s better for the environment, and with a shift in focus, it’s better for the company.

Therefore, if your company provides opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and social interactions at work, then you’re providing something employees can’t get anywhere else.

Danielle Farage is on a mission to make inclusion a high priority for companies wanting better diversity.

As Head of Growth and Marketing at Café, a mobile and web app that empowers employees to collaborate effectively in a hybrid world, and Co-Admin of The Future Work Community on Upstream (a next-gen platform for networking), she works towards this goal on a daily basis.

Considering herself a cross between Gen Z and a Millennial, Danielle is in tune with what employers are looking for and what’s important to the new generation.

Listen to the following clips for the crucial questions Danielle’s asking in regard to inclusion and employee retention.

 

INCLUDING THE NEW GENERATION

“Where are all the young people? If we are reimagining work, then shouldn’t we involve all generations?”

Danielle recently wrote a LinkedIn post lamenting the lack of diversity at business conferences she recently attended. Mostly, all the speakers were of a certain age.

Being a workplace futurist, Danielle aims to build community through an intersection of identity, culture, and workplace. As a younger professional, Danielle has a different perspective. If the people making decisions are the same as before, who is making room for the new generation?

 

INCLUSION LEADS TO BETTER BUSINESS OUTCOMES

“What’s the ROI? What’s the difference between a potential sales lead who encounters the community and one who doesn’t and is there an impact on how they convert?”

Business outcomes are always first priority for companies. But realizing that community and outcome are closely linked is vital. Danielle says that employees are inspired to join a company often because of an important mission with joins like-minded people.

Danielle points to community for retaining employees who were inspired to join in the first place. But it’s not all about the employees. It’s also essential to consider the value brought to the clients.

 

RETHINKING HIERARCHICAL WORKPLACES

“I think the future of corporate looks a lot less hierarchical in nature and more of a community-based approach. A more equal level shared across the organization.”

If the focus is on “what is the problem we are all here to solve?” than business outcomes and community improve. If employees are able to opt in or out and give opinions with more psychological safety, productivity, inclusion, and contentment will be better.

Sabine points to Google for setting an example of workplace flexibility, agency, and skill-set management. From a pool of projects, you’re asked to spend a certain percentage of work hours on the particular focus, while being allowed to work on things that inspire you.

 

DIVERSITY NEEDS A DIFFERENT APPROACH

“I look at the remote conversation, the hybrid conversation, the flexible-first conversation, as one that is honestly a women’s issue.”

Danielle believes leaders and companies need to look at not just which employees are coming into the office, but who and why.

Inclusion isn’t just about feminism, but about diversity and accessibility. From working mothers who have dropped out of the workforce to people with chronic illness who simply won’t know how they will feel until the night before.

Danielle recently talked to a woman of color who often experiences microaggressions on her way to work, making it unappealing to commute. If there’s one thing that companies are doing wrong, it’s not revisiting their office policies and mandates. By doing so, they will discover what their employees truly seek.

 

BUILD A BETTER COMMUNITY

“Inclusion is a central theme and value behind community.”

Companies frequently don’t approach diversity with what actually attracts diverse people. Instead of focusing on hitting a quota or appearing to be progressive, Danielle thinks companies should ask themselves these questions:

  1. How do you build community?
  2. Are you a space for people to bring their authentic selves?
  3. Does your mission add to diverse people’s lives?

 

Danielle reminds those in charge not to reverse engineer diversity. If it’s canned, it is felt, and defeats the purpose.

 

 

CONCLUSION FOR INCLUSION FOR BETTER DIVERSITY

Instead of asking employees to fit in with company culture. What if companies asked, “How can this person add to our culture? Change our perspective? Add to the conversation?”

If companies recruit people who think differently, they can show up as their full selves. While diversity is about representation, its true value is in diverse thought, approach, and experience. Therefore, having a diverse culture will make companies vibrant, unique, and successful.

 

Download the whitepaper

 

Today, corporate real estate, workplace experience, and facilities managers are faced with more uncertainty than ever before. Let’s list some facts here first:

  • Workplace leaders do not know when COVID-19 will truly “stabilize” and open the road for a definitive return-to-office movement. And that has been going on for 2+ years.
  • Workplace leaders are evaluated through far more criteria than before the pandemic: cost savings, cost efficiency, space efficiency, ROI, workplace experience, office attendance, talent attraction/retention, sustainability, DEI, and the list goes on. 
  • Workplace leaders are faced with the challenge of enabling a positive and productive workplace. Orchestrating individual flexibility, team culture, office presence, and productivity are among the most prevalent topics for workplace leaders.
  • Workplace leaders are mostly in the dark when it comes to understanding office presence, office presence intent and sentiment, and activity-led office presence.
  • Workplace leaders are tasked with implementing, enabling, and making a success out of a working policy (hybrid or otherwise). But it is oftentimes not rooted in employees’ expectations, patterns, and behaviors.

How to be innovative in the workplace considering these facts?

The positive aspect of this has been the renewed importance of the function within the organization. As the workplace is not anymore the obligated infrastructure it once was, but is fast becoming a key service to the organization and its members. However, this also translates into heightened scrutiny and pressure to deliver on these more diverse objectives we have listed above. 

High pressure and high uncertainty are tough on any business function. The expectations of results are through the roof. But there is less of a clear path to these results than usual. We see this in our discussions in the market. There is often confusion for workplace leaders as to where and what to start with in order to build the next great office experience of tomorrow. It is quite likely that firms such as CBRE, JLL, or Gensler are seeing booming activity these days. As many will turn to outside support in the hope that someone will be able to sort out some of these things for them. 

When planning does more harm than good

In such a context, traditional planning is not the answer. 

Whatever you’ll want to do and tackle first, you won’t be able to plan it for your full area of responsibility. You won’t get the buy-in for that internally – you’ll need to show some business cases and some results initially. Nor would you want to plan and implement across all your portfolio, and then only figure out that there was something wrong in your assumptions – and have invested heavy resources in something that doesn’t lead to demonstrable results.

Long-term planning also prevents you from adapting quickly to the things you should learn while actually doing things.

Download the whitepaper

 

Using pilots for testing innovative ideas in the workplace

This is why we at Locatee often work with first-time customers on pilot projects. Roll out one location, prove the value of data for decision-making and strategy-building, and expand from there. 

It corresponds to an agile mindset where quicker, smaller pieces of experimentation lead to stronger confidence in the results and the pathway to success. But the “pilot then scale” mechanism shouldn’t be confused with a Culture of experimentation. While a good way to mitigate risk, workplace innovation requires a lot more than simply scaling down one project initially. It is not about scaling down an initiative. It is about focusing on the impact.

Many organizations are also too conservative about the nature and amount of experimentation. Overemphasizing the importance of successful experiments may encourage employees to focus on familiar solutions or those that they already know will work and avoid testing innovative ideas in the workplace that they fear might fail. And it’s actually less risky to run a large number of experiments than a small number.

Brace for impact 

In an uncertain context, the goal should always be to get rid of uncertainty as fast as possible. While there is comfort in planning, there are also higher chances of (larger) failure when we do not strive to quickly determine if the path is right. 

Hence, experimenting in the workplace needs to be about finding out if we can generate results, learnings, and validations. Agile prescribes always to look for the fastest way to deliver findings. Agile is in many ways a codified version of “learning by doing” and gives clear, practical guidelines to achieve this. An agile working environment – is a workplace that can accommodate the changing demands of employees and gives them more ways to stay productive.

Striving to uncover results and impact fast vs. planning and accumulating risk as you plan is at the heart of training an experimental mindset.

The office experimentation quandary for the agile working environment

Fast? In real estate? Come on. 

True, that may sound daunting. If what you are looking at is a global portfolio, or even just a building, or even just a floor, still, the notion of “trying out stuff” seems very unrealistic and impractical. Too many dependencies. Too many complexities. Real Estate and Workplace management are not startups! 

However, this has happened before, and there are existing answers to that. 

Scaled Agile Framework (SAF) offers a clear, proven path for implementing Agile in an Enterprise context. 

But even without having your organization going full SAFe mode, you can still implement an Agile mindset in your own area. Remember – the whole point of  Agile is to start wherever you can. It’s not to plan for the whole thing in advance!

Innovation in workplace: break it down

Something we often hear in discussions with CRE and Workplace Managers at Locatee is something like “I can’t really do anything without having people in the office”. While this is indeed a limitation. But it also comes from the mindset that without the whole picture, the whole plan, we cannot be successful.

That is a fallacy. There are always things we can do and try, be it on a smaller scale, or for a smaller impact. If there is only 10% to 20% average occupancy in the week, there is surely a day or two in the week where the occupancy is closer to 50% or even above. 

And even on low attendance days, the people using the office are still giving useful indications as to what the office is being used for. Not having the full picture, not having the perfect setting – the fallacy is that the picture was never full. Our data shows that even before Covid-19, the offices were rarely occupied above 60% on average in any region or industry in the world. And the setting was never perfect either. 

Again, the smaller scale or sample size is only an issue if you think about the action first. But if instead, you are clear on the impact you try to achieve, the progress you would like to see, then the setting doesn’t necessarily matter.

Download the whitepaper

 

Measuring the progress of workplace innovation

For instance – what metric would tell you that there is progress towards your objective? Is it the % of peak occupancy each week? Is it the average? Or is it something else – could it be around figuring out whether unassigned seating would work for you? Could you want to find out if there is a difference between zone occupancy and team attendance patterns? Or could you want to zoom in on specific team patterns? 

Based on what it is that you consider as progress towards achieving your objectives, you can then start breaking it down into possible actions that you assume could demonstrate that progress. And in doing that, you may want to prioritize anything that is the simplest to implement first, with a faster time to uncover results.

For instance – you may consider that a wide improvement of A/V equipment and other hybrid meeting enabling equipment, would lead to a better experience in the office and possibly better attendance. Instead of ordering and installing equipment across a whole department, floor or building and looking at attendance numbers… Could you simply improve one asset, assume that improving that one asset would make it the most used asset on the floor/in the building, and possibly observing whether the asset is indeed used in majority for hybrid meetings (maybe comparing with another similar asset in the building)? 

Dancing with experiments

Because any such experiments will take some time to get done and lead to results. You don’t have to start one and wait for it to complete. Depending on the resources available, you could then launch another experiment, leading to a completely different set of expected results. This would give you other learnings to build upon when strategizing your bigger picture workplace.

If you started with an equipment improvement on one floor, could you try something around seating on another? If you were interested in flexible seating but hadn’t made the jump until now, could you approach one team in one specific zone in the building, and try to experiment with flexible seating only with them? 

Start from data to get to data

Experimenting and workplace innovation is hard and uncomfortable. It’s even more difficult without much insight and visibility on “performance” in the first place. This is something we observe keenly in the market. Many “starters” in organizations where there is a growing importance for Workplace Experience management (i.e. new hires with a newly created position and mission) seek Locatee. They intuitively understand the crucial need to have data, to have baselines, in order for them to demonstrate the results and impact of their actions. 

In more established organizations there is less tangible growth for the workplace lead function. But expectations are still high. There is often a sense of “legacy” – we were already doing with what we have – i.e. a not-too-old manual study from external consultancies or badge swipe data that tells us more or less about occupancy – and we could still do away with that. 

To some extent, that might be true. But you may lack the granularity your experiments require. You need to ask yourself whether whatever action you take, you will be able to actually see the impact. Check if it constitutes progress in workplace innovation and validation of your orientation. 

For example, badge swipe data could tell you about building floor occupancy. So, it could validate activities that encourage office attendance. But that data is on a large scale. And your experiment would have to mirror the scale of the data in order to be conclusive. You wouldn’t be able to break it down to a smaller scale. 

As we uncovered in a study commissioned by Locatee and conducted by Forrester Consulting, “Data readiness creates visibility to identify gaps limiting progress. High-readiness firms have more visibility and connectivity across their locations, allowing them to identify gaps that are limiting progress faster than low-readiness firms”. 

Progress as the safest measure of the future success of workplace innovation

While it may sound obvious, it really isn’t. At the end of the day, being able to demonstrate progress is the safest way to ensure success towards larger goals.

And to demonstrate progress, there is no other way than to be able to track progress. Any experiment in workplace innovation must be contingent on an ability to track the impact it makes and the progress it has enabled.

An example of this: booking systems. At the start of the pandemic, booking systems became the most urgent implementation and investment. The reason: booking systems could limit the number of people coming into the office (Covid-19 restrictions); it was also considered that the booking systems could be a source of utilization data fit for other purposes.

Where did this fail? 

A) functionalities of booking systems could have experimented with a much smaller scale version. We at Locatee did that with an excel spreadsheet. It allowed us to understand the limitations of booking: people don’t do what they say they’ll do. No-shows and unregistered attendance were the norm. At a customer having just implemented an unassigned seating concept, it was observed that the booking system was “gamed” in order for employees to revert to assigned seating, by reserving the same desk continuously. Experimenting with desk booking for just one team would probably have uncovered that issue earlier. So, there would be no need for rolling it out across a whole site. 

B) In order to mitigate this limitation, companies that did invest in such systems fell into the “sunk cost fallacy”. We already invested in it, so we might make it work. And that led to initiatives trying to train employees to be compliant, or create a “check-in” functionality, or even one of our customers turned to Locatee in order to verify the accuracy of the booking data (and found out critical discrepancies from 10% inaccuracy to some floors showing 20 times more people attending than bookings).  

Experimenting could have helped to avoid these examples. Checking the relevancy of the data available to verify the impact is crucial for workplace innovation. In the end, you can’t improve what you do not measure, which is why data and identifying progress must be at the heart of any strategy. Armed with insight and a culture of innovation, you will have a leg up on a vast majority of your peers.

Download the whitepaper

 

Our Meeting Culture Expert Guest

Covid-19 illuminated how old fashioned meeting culture has been. But Logitech is here to help.

Toby Lewis is Senior Manager of Collaboration Strategy at Logitech. Coming from a consultancy background, Toby specializes in collaboration technology and is now excited to see video collaboration be more widely adopted.

As an industry professional for the last 25 years, Toby Lewis says video has been little more than a science experiment until now. But he says collaboration technology is key to company success, especially when it comes to hybrid work.

Listen to the following clips to understand how meeting culture is changing in the new workplace.

What Does Hybrid Work Really Mean?

 

“To me hybrid actually doesn’t mean working, because you can work from anywhere. I can work from home, or I can work on the train. That’s not necessarily hybrid for me, that’s flexible. Where the hybrid comes in is when you suddenly have to meet and collaborate with people but you’re not both in the same location.” – Toby Lewis

Toby isn’t a fan of the term ‘hybrid work,’ as there is no established definition. At a recent Logitech event, they polled an audience on what hybrid means. Their first definition was a Toyota. The second one was the coming together of physical and digital spaces. The third: “we have no idea what it means.” 42% chose the third.

Keeping Meetings Productive

When it comes to meetings, keep it simple and active. Toby advises keeping meetings to a maximum of 45 minutes. He points to whiteboards for improving meeting culture. Evidence supports his theory: even the simple act of getting up to engage with a whiteboard increases heart rate and blood flow.

He also has a somewhat unconventional piece of decor advice:

 

“Give them uncomfortable furniture. If they’ve got uncomfortable furniture they are going to keep moving, and they are going to keep their blood flowing so that collaboration meeting will be much more emotional, much more creative, and much more successful.” – Toby Lewis

 

Rethinking Office Culture

 

If Toby Lewis has one wish for the future of office spaces, it is for employees to be proud when walking into the office. Therefore,  a dynamism shift is necessary, as getting them in is half the problem.

As the current data suggests, Toby states that hybrid work is here to stay.

“Even if we see a shift of people going back to the office, you can guarantee at least one person in a six-person meeting won’t be in the same room as you… It would be fabulous if offices became the epicenter of culture. We’re all suffering a bit with this remote work. We’re not immersed enough in the culture of our business.” – Toby Lewis

 

Importance of a Translator

 

“I know this sounds simple, but I think that a good project manager in every group is going to become vital. Controlling logistics, mapping outcomes, just keeping a group pulling in the same direction. Having a good translator in the middle of distributed group, of a hybrid group, is what is making our groups more successful.” – Toby Lewis

If merging meeting culture with technology is most important, Toby advises having a translator for all the different types of people, as office spaces often have engineers, architects, and facilities work people trying to communicate with each other and consequently speaking completely different languages.

 

Conclusion For Changing Meeting Culture

Toby Lewis is excited that companies are catching up with their outdated ideas of office and meeting culture.

“In many ways, we are still in the mindset of the industrial revolution, when you were required to come to the office to use its tools. Now, the tool is the internet.” – Toby Lewis

Which means the tool is everywhere. Yet making that exciting and efficient remains the challenge.

Listen to the full episode and others from The Workplace Leader Podcast here.

 

 

Explanation:

  • Meeting rooms avg: average monthly occupancy of meeting rooms
  • Meeting rooms peak: peak occupancy of meeting rooms reached during the month 
  • Collaboration spaces avg: average monthly occupancy of collaboration spaces
  • Collaboration spaces peak: peak occupancy of collaboration spaces reached during the month
  • Desk avg: average monthly occupancy of desks (excl. individual offices)
  • Desk peak: peak occupancy of desks reached during the month (excl. individual offices)
  • Meeting rooms vs collaboration spaces: as defined per each customer setup. Generally speaking, meeting rooms are bookable as opposed to collaboration spaces which are open/first come first serve spaces.

Get regular insights on workplace trends straight to your mailbox

Interpretation:

If anything, our conclusions from May are being validated and confirmed by the additional data. As we have seen, overall utilization is slightly lower from May to June. And this is clearly visible as well when we look at desks utilization peaks. However, this doesn’t seem to affect the utilization of meeting rooms and collaboration spaces – on the contrary, despite lower occupancy numbers, these spaces keep being increasingly utilized!

The factors behind these opposite trends are unclear. Could it be that companies have started to focus on orchestrating “punctuated collaboration” intently, thus ensuring that employees are indeed more systematically using the office for collaborative events? 

Or could it be that with averaged peaks close or superior to 70% for meeting rooms across a large number of sites, there is already, in many of these sites, a saturation phenomenon – and hence even with less people in the office, the demand was actually higher than the supply and thus, still high enough to increasingly fill out the spaces?

If that is the case – something that obviously is analyzed in a much more granular manner, floor by floor, by our customers in Locatee – this points to a far more urgent need to transform and reallocate space. Are you already transforming your office? What are your “big bets” to create a great workplace experience?

 

Find out where you stand compared to your peers

In this episode, Sabine Ehm and Darren Murph discuss why Remote First is a crucial responsibility for companies looking not just to survive, but thrive in the modern era.

 

OUR REMOTE WORK EXPERT GUEST

Darren Murph is Head of Remote at GitLab, but stylizes himself as “Chief Evangelist” of the company with fifteen hundred employees in sixty-five countries and zero company-owned offices. He has an educational background in operations and supply chain management.

GitLab originated as a “remote only” company from inception, as opposed to a company with co-located roots that pivoted to remote during the pandemic. Darren proclaims that in order for a company to maintain remote first at scale, it “must have a devoted person or team devoted to remote first principles and dedicated to onboarding, learning and development, and manager upskilling and training.” 

In the following clips, you’ll hear how Darren implements Remote First principles and why it’s so important to him.

 

 

HOW AND WHY REMOTE FIRST IS CRUCIAL TO ANY MODERN COMPANY

 

 

 

“[Remote First] is a huge fundamental rethinking of how people work and where they work, and all of the things that make work work. And if you just try to get through this change through one policy after another, it’s going to feel like a mandate, it’s going to be very difficult to get tailwinds…” – Darren Murph

Darren suggests reframing remote first as a vision of the future with “purpose and mission.” To do it with mediocrity is to confuse, demotivate, and alienate your workforce. On the other hand, if you do it with purpose, you excite people toward a different future.

 

WHO SHOULD HEAD UP A REMOTE FIRST POSITION?

 

 

 

 

“It can sit anywhere in the organization. The one thing that I advise is make sure that it’s senior enough to actually influence change. And make sure that you have someone who is very collaborative, because it will likely be the most cross-functional role in your entire company….” – Darren Murph

The truth is, it depends. It’s going to truly depend on the industry, company, and brand. For instance, Darren has seen the role set in finance or set in design. “Dropbox is a great example. Their VP of design oversees the remote transformation, because they see people design through the same lens as product design.”

 

 

COMPANY BONDING

 

 

 

“For people that are new to this, you may be inclined to spend the budget to get people together and then fill that time with work or strategy sessions – resist that urge. The truth is, the highest ROI of in person synchronous time is bonding, culture building rapport building, breaking bread with people. That is more difficult, if not impossible, to do virtually.” – Darren Murph

The biggest challenge for traditional companies in a new normal of zoom meetings is the morale of its workforce. It can be nearly impossible to reach new deals, according to a Harvard Business Review study, especially for Asian and Latin companies. That is to say, companies should prioritize non-billable activities and conversations.

 

 

MAKING IT PERSONAL

 

 

 

“So, almost three years ago, my wife and I adopted a newborn at birth. It’s been a transformational, amazing experience. [The] thing here is adopting and fostering a new journey. But it becomes much easier if you have flexibility in the workplace.” – Darren Murph

Darren fell in love with distributed and remote working very early on in his career. “There’s no putting that genie back in the bottle, he explains. “Once you’ve fully embraced flexibility, it’s going to be really difficult to convince someone to live their life around the rigidity of a daily commute…”

The most interesting thought experiment is to explore how people who are able to, can now work more flexibly. For example, how can they repurpose commute time toward a purpose that matters to them? Darren philosophizes that society could solve the orphan crisis in a matter of months. And best of all, it could be done with no additional funding or infrastructure at all, just by using repurposed commute times.

 

 

CONCLUSION FOR MAKING REMOTE WORK WORK

To sum up, Darren Murph lives and breathes the remote first work style. In fact, he believes it should be prioritized yesterday, “but today’s good as well.” It requires prioritization, intention, and transparency. 

Just like the pandemic revealed weaknesses in company structure, Darren believes “remote work doesn’t kill culture, it reveals culture. Remote first simply puts a spotlight on the values of your company.

If your values aren’t written down, they’re unknown. They must be explicit. 

-Darren Murph

 

Listen to this and other Workplace Leader podcast episodes here!

 

A healthy workplace environment starts with the individual. In this episode, Elizabeth Nelson and Sabine Ehm walk through the steps to creating one. 

Our healthy office design expert guest

Elizabeth Nelson is the Co-Founder and Head of Innovation at Smart Building Certification. She is also the author of The Healthy Office Revolution: A true story of burnout, a wake-up call & better working through science. She considers herself a ‘disruptor’, looking to shake up the way we work. 

Elizabeth is a writer, researcher, and entrepreneur, running two businesses and diving into research along the way. In 2020, she co-founded Smart Building Certification, looking to create better sustainable workplace ecosystems. We see efforts to find a way to bring together these industries in a way that improves work spaces, changes business models, and makes them more competitive.

In her book, Elizabeth shares a very personal story from her 20s. She faced burnout and was on a mission to prove we can do things better in the workplace. She believes we can change the way we work if we start with the individual.

Listen to these clips to learn more about Elizabeth’s approach to creating a healthy workplace environment.

Rest is vital for healthy working

“I’ve worked like crazy all week, and I’m not coming into the office today. I’m staying in my pajamas, I’m sleeping until 12, and I’m not available. ” – Elizabeth Nelson

 

 

While working at an advertising agency, Elizabeth often heard that she was ‘too nice for this’. In other words, her personality wasn’t fit for the industry. Afterwards, Sabine expresses how unfortunate it is that we are often not allowed to be nice in business to be taken seriously. Elizabeth goes on to describe some of her colleagues as diva-ish. After working hard, they would announce their absence from the office to recover.

“That moment of saying I’ve given so much more than expected, and now I’m going to rest is important.” Overextending ourselves and working 40+ hour weeks is absurd. “There are dips and flows, and that’s how people work.”

Inclusivity in sustainable workplaces

“There’s so much that we’re doing wrong with the way that we’re working now. Anything that we play around with will probably be an improvement.” – Elizabeth Nelson

 

Whenever someone asks Elizabeth what needs to change, she says everything. And, it starts with the individual. Each person should learn what work style suits them best, and companies must value it. For example, Elizabeth speaks of chronotypes. “We shouldn’t have to set an alarm in the morning. If you do, it means you’re waking up too early”. Everyone is different, and some people function better at certain hours. Forcing ourselves to work through hours when our bodies are craving sleep can be similar to having constant jet lag. 

“[We must] learn who we are, and fight for that”. Companies must build environments that support every type of person. Another example of an undervalued group is introverts. They are overwhelmingly underrepresented in the workplace. They are often also a later chronotype, creating a “pool of people who are under a lot more stress at the office”.

 

Technology’s role in improving the workplace

“Technology is one of the best tools we can use to study what’s going on in the office.” – Elizabeth Nelson

 

 

“Are we working in a sustainable way? Is our business model actually utilizing the space and time that we have possible for creating sustainable workplaces? How can we improve?” The future of CRE relies on technology. Measuring what’s going on will allow companies to gain insight in a way they haven’t been able to before. And, “anything that you measure will invariably improve”.

There is no cookie-cutter workplace; the design should be “for those people at that time”. In this clip, Elizabeth explains how through Smart Building Certification, companies have started seeing the data and coming up with incredible solutions. Business models have changed, space utilization has shifted, and even the way companies discuss the issue has changed. 

Conclusion for a healthy workplace environment

Understanding and valuing how each individual works will lead to a healthier workplace. Being able to set boundaries and expectations is important. And, the #1 way that companies will be able to understand how their healthy office space is being used is through data. Viewing and measuring workplace data will undoubtedly lead to huge changes in the industry.

 

Listen to this and other Workplace Leader podcast episodes.

Want to support your healthy workplace strategy?

Learn more about Locatee

 

Hybrid Work Will Change Chargebacks & Space Allocation

We’re all aware that acceleration of hybrid work means much less demand for classical office space from users.  At least in the short term.  But what implications will this have for the remaining workspace? We talk today about the effects hybrid work will have on the workplace, specifically, chargebacks & space allocation programs. 

 

Chargebacks, space allocation and workplace strategies

1. Fully Remote & Virtual First Strategies

For companies that have transitioned to Fully Remote, the need for space allocation has been eliminated.  In this case, there is no office space to chargeback.  

However, for Virtual First organizations, the office still serves a purpose and it would be wise to explore a flexible chargeback system to align with the new flexible workplace strategy.  This is discussed further in point #6 below.

 

2. Hybrid Work Strategies

Many companies will have employees working remotely part of the week.  From a chargeback perspective, business units can instantly appear more efficient as they downsize to fit the lower workspace demand.

 

 

Improvement on program flaws

3. Reducing bureaucracy

Let’s go back to part 1, where we discussed chargeback program flaws.  Does the hybrid work phenomenon, resolve all the inefficiencies of chargeback programs? Potentially.

One area of disruption could be the reduced need to negotiate terms related to space cost allocation.  This is due to another trend that’s grown out of the hybrid work evolution–the proliferation of utilization data. Utilization data is the where, when, and how office space users are working in the workplace. 

With today’s technology automating the continuous tracking of space utilization, space cost allocation is made more accurate. Automation means there’s potentially less to negotiate and less workload required to process chargebacks.

 

4. Aligning incentives

Additionally, chargebacks & space allocation would no longer be based on rentable square feet (RSF) or headcount. Because these numbers were updated on an annual basis.  Now, space cost allocation would be based on real people and real work habits. As a result, there would be more insight into departmental productivity.  Workplace leaders could now make intentional decisions not only about workplace efficiency, but also workplace experience.  Utilization data collected continuously becomes insights about valued space types, the right desk-sharing ratios, what is the new normal and more.

 

5. Reducing reporting inaccuracies

Finally, automated and more accurate data would mitigate the issue of workplace managers producing inaccurate reports for accounting and everyone hoping to never be audited. An additional effect of advances in utilization data collection, means we can now report on space usage at a much faster rate than before. 

CBRE Global Occupancy Insights Report 20211 says 39% of organizations chargeback to their business units annually and 33% chargeback monthly.  With office space utilization data available daily, hourly and live, it stands to reason that the amount of companies processing their chargebacks annually will reduce. With no need to wait for annual numbers or complex calculations, chargebacks could be carried out with quarterly or monthly accounting activity.

 

 

Hybrid-friendly program methodologies

6. Changes in program methodologies 

There’s still a question of how methodologies will change as a result of the ability to assess actual space usage in real-time. What variable would represent space usage by which to make calculations?  Would it be Average Utilization? Peak Utilization? Or Total Number of Hours Consumed?

What if the team didn’t use desks, but only collaboration space?  Would they base chargebacks on headcount or utilization?  Perhaps, the future of hybrid should be a subscription cost similar to coworking models. As with coworking space, business units could pay for a set number of workplaces, use the common areas within that subscription, but host a larger number of employees than workspaces due to desk-sharing ratios.

Flexible chargebacks, discussed above, depend on utilization measurements of users moving throughout the space. How do you make sure you are able to accurately track movement? For instance, to always have an up to date device inventory. Very tedious when you think that oftentimes companies can’t even pull accurate headcount numbers for a given location. 

This issue can be mitigated by WiFi technology.  Sensors, on the other hand, can only tell you if a person is occupying the space. They are currently unable to differentiate between a Finance employee occupying the space and an HR employee.  Knowing which team members occupy each space is the key to more accurate cost allocation.

 

 

Explore Locatee Analytics

Locatee Analytics offers Wifi-based, continuous and accurate utilization data to assist workplace managers with decision making. Our newest product feature called Locatee Team Analytics offers insights about where and when teams work dynamically.  Perfect for carrying out space allocation and chargebacks for a hybrid or flexible office.

At the end of the day, workplace leaders want to know how to maximize productivity in a hybrid work environment.  You do it with data.

Read the Locatee Team Analytics Fact Sheet

If you prefer to have one of our knowledgeable Locateers walk you through our product and how it would work for your particular organization while answering your pressing questions, request a demo.

Get Your Questions Answered

 

 

Citations

1 CBRE Global Occupancy Report [2021] 

Explanation:

  • Meeting rooms avg: average monthly occupancy of meeting rooms
  • Meeting rooms peak: peak occupancy of meeting rooms reached during the month 
  • Collaboration spaces avg: average monthly occupancy of collaboration spaces
  • Collaboration spaces peak: peak occupancy of collaboration spaces reached during the month
  • Desk avg: average monthly occupancy of desks (excl. individual offices)
  • Desk peak: peak occupancy of desks reached during the month (excl. individual offices)
  • Meeting rooms vs collaboration spaces: as defined per each customer setup. Generally speaking, meeting rooms are bookable as opposed to collaboration spaces which are open/first come first serve spaces.

Get regular insights on workplace trends straight to your mailbox

Interpretation:

There are clear patterns appearing in the early part of this year:

Meeting rooms and collaboration spaces are more used on average than desk spaces. 

This is a very important development for the office space in general. Traditionally, “the office” was built with the individual desk at its center. Overall footprint was defined based on needs in terms of desks. The reason: the individual desk was the space in which the individual worker was spending an overwhelming majority of the time in the office.

Hybrid working and the rise of “punctuated collaboration” as a reason to come to the office are upending this traditional logic. For instance, if pre-pandemic, an office worker was spending five days, 40 hours in the building, they may have spent 30 or more hours at their individual desk (according to research, the typical white collar employee spends an average of 8hrs in meetings per week – 1 hour average meeting duration * an average of 8 meetings per week). However, if that same employee only comes to the office twice during the week for a duration of 12 hours, and during these 12 hours, spends half of that time in meetings, the time spent on the individual desk has decreased from 30+ hours to just 6 hours.

If the average usage of meeting rooms and collaboration spaces continues to increase and does so at a faster rate than the desk spaces, there will be a clear reflection to have for workplace leaders regarding the distribution of space types in their buildings.

Peak utilization for meeting rooms and collaboration spaces is much higher than for desks

This data point is a *very* early confirmation of the above assumption regarding the probable need to re-balance space types. Peak utilization points to a moment (15-min period) in a given time frame (e.g. a week) for which the spaces in question had the highest usage. This isn’t indicative of how many people were in those spaces – i.e. it could have been 1 person using a 10 people room – but is indicative of the highest demand for meeting room spaces.

In April 2022, the difference in peaks between desks and meeting rooms (globally: 28 percentage points) and between desks and collaboration spaces (globally: 19 percentage points) allows for a simple observation: across corporate offices measured by Locatee, the risk of saturation is much higher for meeting rooms and collaboration spaces than it is for desks. 

Practically speaking, while the average utilization of meeting rooms doesn’t (yet) signify a trigger to add more meeting rooms, it may have a more intangible consequence of workers deciding against coming in the office due to a perceived lack of availability of popular/regularly requested space types.

Upended usage of the office space

Due to limited availability of data in certain geographic areas, we cannot create a comprehensive comparison of the current patterns with what we could observe before the pandemic. 

However, looking at the limited data for Europe, we can see that pre-pandemic the patterns were very different than today:

  • Desks were on average the most used space type
  • Desks had the highest peak occupancy together with meeting rooms
  • Collaboration spaces were the “lesser in demand” space type

Today, collaboration spaces have joined meeting rooms as the more in demand spaces, and desk space has seen a significant decrease in usage – looking at both average and peaks. 

The premium is placed on meeting rooms and collaboration spaces – the raison d’être of the office of Locatee’s customers becomes clear. What is yours?

 

Find out where you stand compared to your peers

x icon

Choose the Service

get started today

x icon

Fill in all information

in progress

x icon
arrow icon

Thank you

Request has been successfuly sent. We'll get back to you shortly.