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Building a Resilient Workplace: 6 Ways to Optimize Office Real Estate

December 28th, 2020 | 10 min. read

Building a Resilient Workplace: 6 Ways to Optimize Office Real Estate

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From rising real estate costs and focus on more collaborative work, to an increase in distributed teams in a post-COVID world, many organizations are choosing to adopt real estate optimization strategies. 

If you've stumbled across this article, you're probably wondering, what exactly is real estate optimization and how can it help me rethink my workspace? 

While the answer isn't so simple, your partners at Egyptian are here to help understand you what real estate optimization is and how it can help you shrink your real estate footprint and amplify the performance of your people. 

What is Real Estate Optimization?

Real estate optimization is making effective use of commercial real estate to maximize square footage, reduce overhead costs and increase efficiency and productivity.  If you’re paying for an office space that’s too big or unused, that’s not real estate optimization.

The key to real estate optimization is to embrace and build a resilient workplace to support your organization's unique strategy, core purpose and culture. Most importantly, you should also focus on your people. 

According to Steelcase, researchers define resilience as the ability to adapt to changed circumstances while continuing to maintain core purposes and integrity. To put it simply, it's not just about making things smaller, but better. 

5 Ways to Build a Resilient Workplace

1. Use Big Data to Develop a Better Workplace

Real Estate Optimization 1

We live and work in a world where only 54 percent of office real estate is being used. Forward-thinking companies are looking for data-driven solutions to accurately determine facility usage and drive better real estate usage and decision-making around real estate utilization. 

Unfortunately, there are a number of challenges preventing organizations from getting actionable data. Occupancy data is frequently gathered by people taking unreliable notes or casually walking by certain spaces.

These forms of measurement are inaccurate, inconclusive and labor-intensive. As an alternative, companies should opt for sensors that measure space occupancy and provide feedback to inform their real estate strategies. 

Sensor-based technology is designed to clearly and accurately report real estate usage. This real-time data can reveal what spaces are being used, what spaces aren't being used and help organizations finetune those spaces to better support their people.

Companies can also use sensors to test and measure the results of a new design or furniture installation, helping them save both time and money on a potential renovation or acquisition. 

Design Considerations

  • Use space management sensors like Steelcase Workplace Advisor to see where, when and how often spaces are being used and to drive future design decisions

2. Create Workspaces that Support WellbeingReal Estate Optimization 3

Workplace wellbeing is a bottom-line issue. Some companies choose to address this problem with on-site fitness centers and healthy food options, but the most successful organizations choose to focus on the physical, cognitive and emotional needs of their people.

The workplace should foster mental and physical health support and promote holistic wellbeing through its policies, behaviors and design, to attract and retain employees and amplify team and individual performance.

To stay healthy, people need a balance between sitting, standing and walking each and every day. They also need an office space with a wide range of choices and ergonomic support, such as sit-stand desks and office seating that encourages active sitting

The physical work environment should also help employees think better. It should support the need for focus and rejuvenation through workspaces where individuals and teams can solve problems and generate new ideas.

Business leaders should also support the social nature of work by creating workspaces that nurture a sense of belonging and foster connections between people and the organization as a whole. 

Design Considerations

  • Provide easy-to-adjust furniture to fit a range of sizes, needs and preferences to promote movement throughout the day 
  • Position key work areas close to windows and install glass wall partitions to increase the amount of natural light your office receives 
  • Incorporate elements of nature, like lush greenery, living plant walls or fabrics and materials with organic patterns or natural textiles 

3. Provide Places Where People Want to Work

Real Estate Optimization 5

Real estate optimization is about more than reducing real estate costs. It's about creating a balanced ecosystem of spaces to maximize square footage, provide people with a wide range of options within the office and build a resilient workplace.  

An ecosystem of spaces enables an organization to be more resilient. It uses real estate efficiently and cost-effectively, making it easier for companies to adapt and evolve over time while responding to changing business conditions and fostering higher levels of employee engagement. 

By having access to an ecosystem of spaces, people can choose where and how they want to work, based on the work they need to do and the environment they need to be highly engaged, productive and successful. 

Design Considerations

  • Offer an expanded variety of settings, both in and out of the office, to help employees feel supported in their work
  • Install room scheduling systems so users can easily book space to focus on everyday tasks or deadline-pressing projects
  • Incorporate separate zones for individual, team and organizational needs
  • Provide seamless creativity between spaces to support the exchange of information and experiences from tools-to-tools and space-to-space
  • Replace fixed desks and workstations with benching and touchdown stations

4. Design Collaboration Spaces That Make Distance Disappear

Real Estate Optimization 6

The role of the workplace is constantly changing. As organizations continue to implement alternate work strategies to limit real estate costs and support better work-life balance for employees, distributed teams need fixed places to come together and collaborate

Business leaders are embracing and fostering in-person and remote collaboration by designing spaces to support quality interactions with teams, as well as both digital and analog communications. 

Collaboration spaces need to be inspiring and high performing. They should provide easy access to power and support distributed workforces with large-scale collaboration devices and videoconferencing solutions.

To create a more inclusive experience for everyone, these areas can range from private spaces and small meeting rooms, to larger conference rooms and custom spaces, so long as they support a wide range of people, tools and devices. 

Design Considerations

  • Reduce or eliminate traditional private offices to make room for more project team rooms, work cafes or informal collaboration spaces 
  • Incorporate large-scale collaboration devices and videoconferencing solutions to improve remote collaboration and connect distributed workforces
  • Enhance collaboration with technology like the Steelcase media:scape or Crestron Flex to facilitate desktop sharing and boost productivity 
  • Install videoconferencing solutions and collaboration tools onto all employee desktops, laptops, desks and mobile devices

5. Maximize Office Space with Room Scheduling Systems

Real Estate Optimization 2

In the post-COVID world, some companies have decided to reduce their real estate footprint and downsize their office space. While this offers several benefits, such as decreasing overhead costs and keeping employees safe, it does require better space management.                        

To make the most out of their space, organizations should consider room scheduling systems to help their people book and find space with confidence and take full advantage of their time in the office. 

A room scheduling system seamlessly connects to your email calendar, so open spaces are always visible and available for booking. Most systems have a touch screen panel with an intuitive, customizable interface to display critical meeting information and assist with wayfinding. 

Business leaders can even opt for advanced room scheduling systems to track space usage with real-time analytics that measure and report how many people are in the office, how often space is reserved and more. 

Design Considerations

  • Install room scheduling systems so people can easily reserve meeting spaces from their desk or at the device
  • Use an advanced scheduling system like Steelcase Room Wizard or Crestron Room Scheduling to gather real-time data and make it easy to book space 
  • Customize your scheduling system with customization options, like logos and infinite color options, to reflect your brand and culture 

6. Shift from Fixed to Fluid with Modular Furniture Solutions

Real Estate Optimization 4

Resilient workplaces are designed for maximum performance. As the needs of users shift and external factors impact business conditions, organizations should be able to evolve as needed, without increasing their overall footprint or operational costs. 

Workplaces remain relevant when they're not static. They should live and grow with the people who inhabit their spaces and incorporate modular design solutions to remain functional and effective over time. 

Modular solutions, like architecture, furniture and technology, allow for easy reconfiguration. These solutions support the types of spaces organizations need on the fly and in the future, especially when disruption strikes. 

Design Considerations

  • Install modular walls that provide you with the flexibility to reconfigure your workspace and adapt to changing business needs and potential disruptions
  • Incorporate mobile furniture solutions like Steelcase Flex, so you can easily and quickly rearrange desks, tables, carts and markerboards on short notice 

The Benefits of Building a Resilient Workplace

At the end of the day, a company's employees and its real estate are its two greatest expenses and its greatest assets. To build a resilient workplace, you should rethink and maximize your office space to give people more choice and control over how they work. 

A resilient real estate strategy, combined with real estate optimization, can help you maximize square footage, amplify the performance of your people and quickly and easily adapt to potential disruptions as soon as they strike.  After all, tough times don't last, but resilient organizations do. 

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