Presented by: CoreNet Global, The LEADER

Author: Anna Alm-Grayhek, Hendy

The sharing economy, ever-increasing traffic congestion, cloud technologies, machine-learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) are just a few examples of the disruptive forces that continue to radically alter how, when and where work is getting done. Today, many organizations face increased uncertainty about the future composition of their workforce and what type of environment they should be building to better support that work. Given that change is continuous and inevitable, you might be asking how you can confidently move forward with planning your next office space. Here are some best practices to consider that will
help mitigate risk before committing to your next lease.

Develop a flexible model

Develop a workplace strategy that includes access to spaces that are on-demand or more activity-based. Building in the flexibility for your employees to work anywhere and at any time will provide your organization with the ability to accommodate a more varied and fluid workforce. Also, partner with a professional who can help evaluate and implement the strategies and spaces that best suit your organization. Here are some design strategies to consider:

  • Technology integration. Consider how implementing a technology system might improve your space usage and efficiency. These can include booking systems, utilization sensors or seat-reservation apps for “free address” – an environment where employees can choose to where to work within the office – that can help manage predetermined personal preferences.
  • Go universal. Since working in the digital age has removed many of the physical requirements – and most of the necessary resources have gone virtual – the variety of space types previously needed within an office has been dramatically reduced. Establishing universal office standards with a few limited sizes and types of workspaces can maximize the usefulness of your new workplace, allowing groups to expand or contract with minimal disruption.
  • Go mobile. Products that allow for easy and cost effective reconfiguration without the need for special tools or construction can help you be more agile in a
    volatile environment. Examples such as desk systems on casters, mobile screens, and monitors that are furniture based rather than wall-mounted can help reduce the need to tear down and relocate expensive millwork and audio-visual systems or to hire a contractor to get the job done. You might also consider using a kit-of parts instead of rigid standards, which allows for both flexibility and personalization in the workplace.

Consider an HR strategy
Prior to committing to your next office lease, consider implementing an HR strategy complete with training opportunities for new and existing employees and a new hiring and staffing approach that not only aligns with your business objectives but complements your workplace layout. Here’s a closer look at what elements you should consider:

  • Cross-train your workforce. Your employees are your most valuable and expensive asset, so make sure that they are fully prepared to meet the new challenges in the future workplace. Consider implementing training opportunities in which employees can learn how to best utilize the new space, software and technologies. Targeted training programs can help ensure that your team is able to support your organization’s needs as it moves into the future.
  • Hire employees on an as-needed basis. The gig economy has resulted in many freelancers who enjoy the freedom of working on their own terms. These can include highly specialized design, graphics, or virtual modeling professionals. You also can take advantage of a workforce that is in a different time zone, enabling you to get additional work done when your office is closed.

Have an exit strategy

  • Engage design professionals. Utilize real estate professionals and designers to pre-plan your suite with an optional sublease or give-back space in mind. Working with a professional who is familiar with local codes and exiting requirements is essential to ensure that you don’t find yourself stuck with unleasable space.
  • Plan wisely. Keep vital elements in a central location so that you can maintain your core infrastructure without an expensive remodel should you need to downsize or expand. This might also be the right time to re-evaluate your current technology solutions. For example, one consideration is moving servers off-site or to a cloudbased platform rather than keeping them on the premises.
  • Select real estate that will best suit your needs. If you’re looking to add amenities that will support your corporate culture and attract the right talent (e.g., fitness facilities, food offerings, or day care) a better option might be to find an existing development that already has these elements built in. This will alleviate the need to build out costly and often highly customized spaces.

Employ change management

Lastly, implement a change-management strategy. Changing your workplace environment, employee behaviors, and protocols requires a formalized approach. Failing to recognize the risks of not properly preparing and engaging your staff significantly reduces the likelihood that these new strategies will be fully adopted. In addition, these new ways of working require guidance to maximize your chances of success. A change-management professional can assist you with developing the appropriate strategy, building the right internal team, and determining communications and training plans so your team members are ready to work in their new, dynamic environment from the day they move in.