Expanding? 7 Surprising Cities for Hiring Top Talent

Is your company planning a move or an expansion into a new US city? Given the war for hiring top talent, especially from the millennial generation, the available talent pool is an important consideration for choosing a location.

You certainly already know that New York, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley are places where you’ll find talented millennials. But even in those cities, which are some of the most expensive markets in the US, the competition is fierce for hiring top talent. Why not consider some smaller, up-and-coming US cities that are attracting millennials as well as smart companies?

7 cities to consider for hiring top talent

Recent college grads are moving to urban centers and increasing numbers. According to a report by City Observatory, in 1980 young adults were 10% more likely to live in urban centers. By 2010, that number rose to 51%, with college grads 126% more likely to live within 3 miles of a major city center.

In mid-size US cities such as San Diego and Austin, the millennial population is growing as a percentage of the total adult population, according to CBRE’s Workplace Strategy group. That makes these smaller cities ideal for hiring top talent. Also, companies can tap into both urban and suburban populations as long as average commute times remain under one hour. That’s another great reason to focus on smaller cities.

These are some of the cities that may be on the way to becoming economic powerhouses of the future, as well as great locations for attracting top talent to your company.

1. Denver, CO

According to Forbes annual ranking of the Best Places for Businesses and Careers, Denver comes out on top. The city is home to growth industries such as tech, telecom, aerospace and energy, and the population of college grads has increased 47 percent since 2000. The city has a thriving arts and culture scene and also attracts millennials looking for an active, outdoor lifestyle in the mountains.

2. Raleigh, NC

Raleigh is part of North Carolina’s Research Triangle region, which is an important center of research for biotech and technology industries, as well as a magnet for hiring top talent. The area also boasts many top colleges and universities, such as Duke, Wake Forest, NC State, and UNC Chapel Hill. These schools not only provide an economic boost to the region, but attract smart young talent who graduate from school and remain in the area. The mild sunny weather, abundance of outdoor activities, highly rated health care and moderate cost of living are convincing millennials to stay.

3. Portland, OR

The millennial generation is socially and environmentally conscious, and that’s one of Portland’s big attractions. The city is known as one of the greenest places in the world, both in terms of its beautiful location and friendliness to the environment. Like Raleigh, Portland is home to universities that attract young people who stay to work, as well as enjoy the microbreweries, outdoor and cultural activities, and even the coffee! Technology companies are flocking to the city and construction is booming.

4. Austin, TX

Austin may be the next best thing to Silicon Valley for hiring top talent for the tech industry. In fact, it has been called “Silicon Hills” since the 90’s as more and more technology companies are locating headquarters and development centers there. However, Austin has another big draw for the millennial generation besides employment in growth industries like tech, pharmaceutical and biotech. In recent years, the city is now known as the “Live Music Capital of the World” and plays host to one of the largest music festivals in the world.

5. Nashville, TN

While Nashville is known as the center of the music industry, the city is also attracting college grads in large numbers due to job growth in tech, healthcare, and education. It doesn’t hurt that the city also boasts interesting neighborhoods, great restaurants and pubs, and of course music everywhere you turn. It’s also an affordable city with median home prices at $172,000.

6. San Diego, CA

If millennials are looking for great weather to enjoy the outdoors, it’s no wonder they are flocking to San Diego, with its mild climate year round and proximity to the beach. Technology and Defense industries dominate the area along with tourism. Pop culture events are also a big draw, such as Comic-Con, the Street Scene Music Fest and San Diego Black Film Festival.

7. Pittsburgh, PA

Google has expanded into Pittsburgh, which says quite a bit about the city’s prospects for hiring top talent. While it used to be known as an older industrial city, today Pittsburgh is a millennial magnet, due to job growth combined with very affordable housing, beautiful green spaces, historic architecture, and abundant cultural activities. Like many of the other cities on our list, young people are graduating from top schools like Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh and deciding to call the city home.

Why these cities are ripe for economic growth & attracting talent

According to the NY times, economists say there is a strong correlation between attracting top talent and long-term economic success for a city. That’s because for each millennial college grad who begins working in an innovation industry, new jobs are created in other sectors, such as building, food service, medical and education. That growth and capacity for hiring top talent attracts more companies, which in turn attracts more college grads, and the economic improvement feeds on itself.

Create a modern workplace to attract and retain talent

No matter which city you choose for your new location, the workplace you design is critically important for hiring top talent. Millennials in particular are not interested in being chained to a cubical in a traditional workplace environment.

research report from CBRE confirms that millennials want choice in their work environment; they are looking for a mix of spaces for quiet and concentration, collaborating with others, and learning and training. Here’s the part that may be surprising: apparently the older generations are looking for the same thing. Clearly, traditional work environments are no longer the workplace of choice.

That’s good news for corporate real estate. It means that moving toward activity-based working and agile working environments is not only the right move for reducing property costs, but the best strategy for hiring top talent of all ages as well.

Read more:
3 Workplace Strategies for Attracting Top Talent
Agile Working Benefits: Moving Beyond the Dollars

It’s important to remember that hiring top talent is only half the battle: you need to retain the talent you have as well. That means creating spaces that effectively meet the needs of your business. Doing that requires a great deal of intelligence about how, where and when people are working and how they prefer to use space. The challenging part of implementing modern workplaces can be gathering the business intelligence that’s needed to create the right mix.

If you are planning a new space, now is the time to learn about the space utilization tracking technology needed to gather intelligence and help you make the right choices. Here is an informative resource to get you started: Managing Workplace Utilization.

Create an activity based working strategy. Learn how.


Key Takeaways from CoreNet Global 2016

The theme of the CoreNet Global 2016 Summit in Philadelphia was focused on some key big picture issues facing corporate real estate: Geopolitics, Economics and the Environment. The overall message was clear: CRE needs to be prepared for a climate of rapidly accelerating change on all fronts.

5 Key Messages from CoreNet Global 2016

Here are some of the most important and actionable takeaways for CRE from CoreNet Philadelphia, specifically related to the global economy, human capital, employee wellness, the modern workplace and the impact of technology.

CoreNet Global takeaway #1: Prepare for an uncertain future with flexibility

At the CoreNet Global Summit, a variety of experts presented different viewpoints and challenged our world view on issues such as geopolitics, the environment, immigration and the global economy. At the conclusion, one point remained clear: the future is uncertain and the only thing we can positively predict is rapidly accelerating change.

Not being ready to meet these changes is a huge risk for companies. Responding too late can impact your company’s ability to remain competitive and profitable. So how can CRE transform their teams and workplaces to be agile enough to meet changing business conditions as they unfold?

One smart strategy is building flexibility into your CRE portfolio with agile working spaces. While companies are moving to this new way of working for its cost benefits and to enable collaboration, agile spaces also provide scalability and allow for fast re-alignment of teams.

Learn more: Agile Working Benefits: Moving Beyond the Dollars


CoreNet Global takeaway #2: Mitigate a growing human capital crisis by providing choice

It’s an indisputable fact: companies are having a hard time hiring knowledge workers with the skills they need. The “war for talent” means that attracting and retaining highly skilled workers, especially from the millennial generation, is a top priority that must drive CRE actions.

According to CBRE research presented at the CoreNet Global Summit, that’s because workers place a high value on their work environment. In fact, 71% are willing to give up other benefits (like a shorter commute or joining a company with a valued brand) to work in a well-designed workplace. The difficult part is understanding exactly what actions you need to take to make your workplace more attractive to prospective employees.

According to CBRE and many other experts at the summit, the key is providing choice in the workplace. Both millennials and older generations want options in the types of spaces available to them to accomplish their work.

Learn more: 3 Workplace Strategies for Attracting Top Talent

CoreNet Global takeaway #3: Addressing employee experience is essential

CBRE revealed that half of companies they surveyed already have employee health and wellbeing programs in place, and 91% expect to increase these programs. Other experts presenting at the CoreNet global summit, including Dr. Cristina Banks, Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces, University of California Berkeley, say that’s because workers are seeking out environments where their human needs are met.

This fact makes employee health and wellbeing an important workplace strategy for attracting talent and also growing productivity. Workplaces designed to increase physical health are becoming popular, providing features like attractive staircases and active furniture to increase movement, and healthy food options to increase nutrition.

What may be surprising is that the psychological wellbeing of employees is just as important as their physical health. That’s why companies are providing work spaces designed to increase social interaction and cohesion as well as provide quiet and privacy. Again, it’s having choice that’s key.

CoreNet Global takeaway #4: Workplace design can serve as a business enabler

How can workplace impact business success? According to many presenters at the CoreNet Global summit, that’s the question driving the design of the modern workplace and especially the movement to agile working. One fact has become clear: in the knowledge economy, ideas and innovation are what’s needed to drive businesses forward. And the key to generating better ideas is increasing collaboration in the workplace.

That’s an important reason that companies are transforming their workplaces into environments that provide more opportunities to collaborate. Agile work spaces encourage both ad-hoc and planned collaboration with the neighborhood concept and with meeting spaces designed for the way teams work best.

Another factor that can’t be overlooked is how workplace can increase productivity. There were many ideas presented at the CoreNet Global Summit about impacting employee productivity with workplace design, as well as how to measure that impact. A common thread was providing space options that make it easier for workers to accomplish a variety of tasks. But to ensure the results you want, it’s essential to transform company culture through change management at the same time you’re transforming the workplace.

Learn more: 8 Tips to Encourage Collaboration in the Agile Workplace

CoreNet Global takeaway #5: Innovative technology is driving workplace transformation

Speakers at the CoreNet Global Summit addressed 3 key drivers in the move to Workplace 2020: innovation in workplace design, policy and technology. The fact is, technology is the catalyst that’s enabling companies to transform workplaces from a cost liability to a productivity asset.

The journey begins with technology that helps you understand where you are, where you want to go and how to get there. In the digital workplace, strategic decisions are increasingly being made based on data rather than relying on experience alone. That means you must be continuously monitoring and measuring the relationship between people and space, because that’s the information you need to drive an effective and efficient workplace.


High performing workplaces are using third generation workplace management tools integrated with utilization tracking technology to get real time insights and respond quickly to dynamic business needs. As a bonus, the data provided by this technology can also be used to power wayfinding tools that improve employee experience in an agile work environment.

Learn more: Managing Workplace Utilization.

Breathe life into your portfolio. Request a demo today.


3 Workplace Strategies for Attracting Top Talent

It’s no secret that there’s a shortage of talent out there. Why? Baby boomers are retiring. Gen Xers, a smaller group to begin with, are also increasingly leaving the corporate workforce in pursuit of opportunities with better work/life balance. And millennials, the largest generation since the boomers, have vastly different expectations than those who came before them.

According to PwC’s Global CEO Survey, attracting top talent from the millennial generation is one of the biggest talent challenges they face today. And it’s crucial to find the answer, since millennials will comprise half the workforce by 2020.

Millennials and the challenge of attracting top talent

The millennial generation has high expectations for their work experience, and many are less than satisfied with where they find themselves.
According to a Deloitte survey of over 7,000 millennial workers, nearly half plan to change jobs within the next two years, and two-thirds hope to do so by 2020.

Those are eye-opening statistics. However, it’s important to realize that this situation poses both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is holding on to the talent you’ve already got. However, the knowledge that so many are actively seeking better positions is also a ripe opportunity for attracting top talent.

Read on to find out the most important factors influencing millennials’ employment choices, and learn strategies to get more top job seekers to choose your company.

3 proven strategies for attracting top talent and keeping it

Here’s something you may already know: it’s not all about the money. Millennials certainly do expect competitive salaries and financial incentives. Yet it’s even more important to them to have personal choice about where and how they work. They also want to work for a company whose values they share.

Attracting top talent from the millennial generation is about building a total employee value proposition that matches their priorities.


1. Develop a culture of empowerment

Millennials want to be judged based on the results they produce, instead of the number of hours they spend chained to a desk at the office. They learn best by doing (especially by leveraging technology) and gain inspiration from collaborating with others.

According to a workplace survey published by Harvard Business Review, the millennial generation values choice: “We found that knowledge workers whose companies allow them to help decide when, where, and how they work were more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, performed better, and viewed their company as more innovative than competitors that didn’t offer such choices.”

A survey by human resources association WorldatWork also found that having an established workplace flexibility culture has a positive impact on employee engagement, satisfaction and turnover rate.

Given the challenges of attracting top talent today, organizations need to move away from the model of rigid work times and places, empowering employees to work the way that best enables them to accomplish goals.

Related article: 5 Ways to Get Management Buy-In For Flexible Working

2. Create a destination workplace that enables collaboration

Attracting top talent from this generation requires more than flexible hours and the ability to work from home. Employees also want more choices and more opportunities for collaboration within the office as well as out of the office. Rather than working at a fixed location, they want to move around as their job demands.

Workplace design is changing to reflect the choices millennials want, with more companies moving toward Activity Based Working (ABW). These are task-oriented spaces designed for different types of work activities, such as quiet areas for concentration, comfortable lounges for group collaboration, and “phone booths” for private phone conversations. An ABW environment is most effective for attracting top talent when combined with an agile working model. Workers are not assigned a seat but instead choose a space to work each day based on what they need to accomplish.

While millennials don’t want to be chained to a desk, they do highly value face-to-face collaboration. They are accustomed to working in teams, and they view the office as a meeting space. Youngers workers are most likely to be lured into the office because of a desire to work with and learn from others, particularly mentors. According to PwC’s research, “Millennials relish the opportunity to engage, interact and learn from senior management.”

A key to attracting top talent is creating a workplace where both senior leaders and young workers want to be. What’s why so many companies are moving away from traditional offices with cubical farms and leaders hidden away in corner offices. The workplace of the future offers comfortable and engaging collaborative spaces, as well as amenities like gyms and recreational spaces.

Related article: 8 Tips to Encourage Collaboration in the Agile Workplace

These features are not only attracting top talent from the millennial generation, but even drawing more senior workers back into the office. And now that they are no longer hidden behind closed doors, they are more accessible to teach and mentor the younger generation.


Australian architecture firm BVN has been involved in numerous workplace projects that have been proven to improve recruitment potential.

“The workplace becomes a direct and tangible reflection of the culture and leadership of organisations,” explained BVN Principal Bill Dowzer. “Clear markers have been transparency, connectivity and a lack of hierarchy in the design of space that have resonated with prospective talent. A major additional factor is the inclusion of wellness as a key aspiration element of a high performance workplace.”

One BVN client, large-scale legal firm Minter Ellison recently reported an 80% increase in acceptances of graduate offers that was in part due to the new workplace design. “The workspace is open and speaks of the opportunities for osmotic learning in a collegiate environment that puts people at the heart of the organisation. It also gave the opportunity to differentiate the culture of the firm from competitors, as a direct illustration of a contemporary forward looking firm,” said Dowzer. (Watch this video to learn more about the project.)

Planning your strategy for moving to an agile, collaborative workspace requires reliable intelligence about how your current space is being used. Learn more about the technologies used to gather and analyze that data with this informative guide: Managing Workplace Utilization.

3. Address workforce health and wellbeing

Work-life balance means more to the millennial generation than being able to choose the hours they work. They are committed to their health and wellbeing, both in and out of the office. Younger workers in particular are drawn to companies that demonstrate the same commitment to employees’ overall well-being.

While providing a gym at the office is a nice perk, progressive companies are doing much more. Supporting workforce health is a smart strategy for attracting top talent of all ages. It’s not just about showing you care about your employees’ heath, but about implementing programs that make a measurable impact. Here are just a few examples.

Enabling activity
Every day more studies are showing the impact of sedentary activities on both employee attitudes and health. Active furniture, such as sit-stand workstations and treadmill desks, allow employees to work out while working, rather than having to build gym time into their schedule.

Office spaces are also being designed specifically to encourage movement. That can mean installing well-placed staircases, and centrally located printers and copiers that encourage getting up and moving around. ABW and agile work environments further support activity as workers move to different spaces throughout the day.

Healthy eating options
It’s no surprise that being trapped in an office with no sustenance but coffee and vending machine fare can negatively impact employees’ health. Providing a variety of healthy food options is not only beneficial to their health and an increasingly popular strategy for attracting top talent. Busy millennials may not have much in the fridge at home, so food is another enticement to get them into the office.

Mood and well-being
Physical health is not the only area of concern when it comes to improving how employees function at work. Mood and mental well-being also have an enormous impact on both satisfaction and productivity. Companies are addressing two workplace factors that significantly impact mood: lighting and noise level.

Experts are increasingly touting good lighting and especially daylight as necessary for optimal productivity. They recommend designing open workspaces where more employees can see the view outside, especially when that view includes green space. These are the types of environments that help with attracting top talent.

Noise can be an even bigger problem that poor lighting. It’s not only distracting, but noise can aggravate mental health conditions. In a well-designed ABW environment, you’ll find quiet areas and group collaboration spaces separated for this reason.

LEED certified buildings
You know LEED certified buildings save money on energy expenses, but how does that help with attracting top talent? First of all, millennials care a great deal about social and environmental responsibility, including reducing pollution. Taking this step shows your commitment to the values they share.

But there is another benefit that can significantly impact employee health and well-being: indoor air quality (IAQ). There is a great body of evidence linking poor IAQ to illness, even systemic problems such as Sick Building Syndrome. Part of LEED certification involves addressing the issues that cause IAQ problems.

Related article: Workforce Health: Is Your Workplace Helping or Hurting?

Millennial job candidates are paying attention to the companies that provide them with the workplace environment they need to be productive. If you’re struggling with attracting top talent from this generation, it pays to create a workplace that aligns with their goals.

Is your company considering expanding into a new city? In an upcoming post, we’ll reveal some up and coming US markets that are ripe for hiring millennial talent. Don’t miss it!

Download creating an activity based working strategy today.


Agile Working Benefits: Moving Beyond the Dollars

I have spent a lot of time over the last few months meeting with clients, prospects, partners and industry experts to discuss how Serraview can provide quick and effective solutions to enable the move to an agile working environment. In those discussions, I have unearthed some interesting misconceptions, as well as agile working benefits that go beyond dollar savings.

Misconceptions About Agile Working Environments

1. Agile is seen as “the future of workplace management”

My contention is that agile working is here now, and will simply expand to a larger number of organizations, business functions and geographies in the (very) near future. Agile working enables employees to work where, when and how they want – the goal is to provide an environment that enables employees to work the most effectively.


2. Agile environments are noisy and reduce privacy

The real intent of agile working is to provide occupants with options for where they can work (and how). This means that optimal agile environments provide appropriate space for many different types of working: individual, activity based, remote, collaborative etc. Appropriate quiet areas are defined (and tracked for usage) as well as providing adequate space for commercially sensitive operations.

Related article: What Does the Agile Work Environment Look Like?

3. Space is underutilized

“Our space is 60% to 80% utilized” is often the gut reaction when asking occupants what their utilization rates are. The reality, as evidenced by recent research from CBRE, is that although space is typically 90% allocated, it is only 49% utilized. This is across all types of real estate. Data can prove the actual measures that mere perception will often muddy. Data can also help the real estate departments socialize ways in which utilization can be increased, and establish the appropriate ratios to ensure users of the space have a desk to work at when needed.

4. Agile working is just a cost cutting exercise

Many people look at agile working as a means to reduce the cost of their real estate. While this is typically a result of implementing an agile working environment, it is not the only driver or benefit that can be derived. One of my favorite comments of recent note was a real estate leader for a major financial institution who stated that “giving up my office has afforded me the option to have 250+ other places where I can work.”

Point 4 is where I want to focus this post, and to do so I want to first set the scene for how we have gotten to where we are.

The Limitations of Historical Metrics

Real estate has been driven for a very long time by two core metrics:

  • Cost Per Square Foot
  • Square Footage Per Person

These metrics have been core for as long as I have been in the industry (18 years and counting). But as the markets have developed, technology has improved and ways of working have changed, the deficiencies of these metrics have been exposed.

The downside of managing based on cost per square foot is that in order to improve the metric results, the only real option is to move to cheaper space. In terms of square footage per person, the most common way to increase the metric is the densification of space. Neither of the solutions above are popular with occupants – essentially moving to worse space or squeezing more people into what currently exists.

Cost Per Person: The Key Metric for the Agile Environment

There is a new metric that I see as core to managing in a modern, agile working environment, and that is Cost Per Person. Cost Per Person allows companies to focus on how space is actually being used. It does not matter what a company is paying per person or what each person is allocated to if they are not using the space. Cost Per Person also allows companies to factor in all workers: fully assigned, partially assigned, contractors (if desired) and remote.

5 Agile Working Benefits Beyond Pure Dollar Savings

Agile working enables companies to reduce their total square footage, and more importantly (in my opinion) free up funds to improve the quality of the workplace. Recent studies have shown that the workplace is a core driver in the following critical corporate objectives:

1. Attraction of talent

PwC’s 2014 Global Talent Survey found 63% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of key skills. The workplace is one of the most visible representatives of a companies’ culture, what it stands for and how it operates. Workplace is a core driver in a candidate’s decision on what job opportunity they wish to pursue. We are in an environment now where there are 4 generations in the workplace, so the workplace support structure has to be different in how it appeals to the preferences of the diverse workforce.

2. Retention of talent

In the current working environment, most companies are in competition to keep their best performing and most highly skilled workers. The skills needs of employers are arguably more homogeneous, with every company having requirements for high demand skill-sets such as e-commerce, web and app development.

3. Increased productivity

When people have options as to how and where to work, there is a correlation with increased output. Harvard Business Review found that 86% of the most highly engaged workers report that they can choose where they wish to work within the office according to the task at hand.

4. Reduced sick time

Wellbeing is worthy of an entire article of its own (watch this space!) and is greatly enhanced when employers are committed to providing a workplace that promotes health and well-being – from provision of ergonomic devices, to healthy food options and facilities to exercise, these factors can help in reducing employee sick leave.

Related article: Workforce Health: Is Your Workplace Helping or Hurting?

5. Employee engagement

WorldatWork survey found that “85% of organizations with an established flexibility culture reported a positive or extremely positive impact on employee engagement.” Establishing this culture is often a challenge as it can require a mindset change by management as to how different work styles are perceived, and management by observation has to become less prevalent.


Recommendations for Implementing Agile Working

Adoption and implementation of agile working environments is here now, and shows no sign of slowing down. As more and more companies implement programs, across a multitude of functions, the benefits are being realized.

One of the largest impediments to implementing agile working is having the right tools in place. Technology can provide evidence through hard metrics about what the optimal ratio planning and utilization rates should be. Companies also need technology to support the cultural challenges of adopting agile working. When removing a traditional office environment for employees, it is critical to advertise all of the agile working benefits and provide technology such as wayfinding, and including smart-apps, to ensure the transition is seamless.

Learn more about the technology needed to implement agile working in this informative guide to Managing Workplace Utilization.

Download Best Practices for the Modern Workplace today.


How the Gig Economy is Impacting the Corporate Workplace

By whatever name you call it: the gig economy, shared economy, or contingent economy, the same shift that has led to the growth of on-demand services like Uber and Airbnb is increasingly impacting the global workforce.

“Gig” workers are those who work on a contingent basis: meaning consulting, freelance or temporary. Their number has risen dramatically in the past decade. The increase ramped up around 2007 during the global economic downturn, and by many accounts, gig workers now represent a third of the workforce.

According to Peter Miscovich, Managing Director, Strategy + Innovation, JLL Consulting in New York, by 2020 gig workers will comprise half the workforce, and as much as 80% by 2030.

JLL in support of the Accenture Tech Vision has defined what they term the “Liquid Workforce” that promises to significantly impact CRE strategy.

In the very near future, says Miscovich, enterprise “Liquid Workforce” platforms will be based upon the emerging “Hollywood Model” of working where agile and “liquid” knowledge workers will be intelligently organized via the Internet on a project basis much like Hollywood movies are made today. The future Liquid Workforce will be organized via crowdsourced “uber-like” cloud based work platforms providing greater workforce and workplace efficiency.

Download Now: Creating an Activity Based Working Strategy

The rise of the Liquid Workforce and the gig economy makes one thing clear: the nature of work is changing, and corporate workplaces must be prepared to support that change.

The gig economy: why it’s gaining ground

The rapidly expanding gig economy is not merely a response to changing economic conditions. Here are just a few of the reasons that workers are choosing to work on a contingent basis, and companies are choosing to hire more contingent workers:

Benefits of the gig economy for workers:

  • Working on projects for multiple companies simultaneously can help to grow skillsets and expose workers to more opportunities
  • More independence and freedom to choose when and where to work
  • Less risk of job and income loss with multiple employers
  • In some fields, gig workers can earn more while working less than FTE counterparts

Benefits of the gig economy for corporations:

  • Ability to hire experts for services not needed on a regular basis
  • Agility in scaling their workforce up and down quickly to meet business demand
  • Reduced cost of providing healthcare and other benefits
  • Lower space costs

Supporting the gig economy: 5 challenges for companies and for CRE

The changing nature of work and the gig economy pose new challenges for corporations, especially for planning and managing corporate real estate. That’s because today CRE groups are expected to do much more than provide every worker with a desk and maintain the space. They must create the environment that supports and contributes to meeting company goals.

1. Retaining corporate culture and worker engagement

How can you build and retain the desired corporate culture when 30 to 50 percent of your workforce are not employees? Working on a contingent basis may impact worker attitudes, especially relating to their commitment to the long term needs of the company.

Addressing this concern starts with demonstrating a commitment to all workers, whether employees or gig workers. It’s important to realize that in the gig economy, people who move on to work elsewhere may return in new roles later on. Consultants may come back as long-term employees, and employees who leave may return as contractors. Or even as customers. When all workers are supported, they are more likely to be committed to company goals and even act as ambassadors after they move on.

CRE can go a long way toward supporting this mindset, by providing environments that encourage all workers in the gig economy to feel like part of the team.

2. Supporting worker mobility

It’s no secret that corporate employees are increasingly mobile, often by choice. People are working from home, in coffee shops and on the road as suits their responsibilities, schedule and lifestyle. Contingent workers may not have a choice in the matter, since they may not have a permanent desk to work at.

CRE can support gig economy workers by providing technology that helps them stay connected and efficient (such as wayfinding technology). Even better, moving toward shared, agile work spaces (that accommodate more people with less space) can make it possible and even desirable for contingent workers to spend more time in the office. Agile workspaces also serve to accommodate a greater range of daily fluctuation in worker attendance, without spending more on space.

Learn more about wayfinding technology by watching this video.

3. Supporting the rapid pace of business change

One of the advantages of the gig economy for corporations is the ability to scale the workforce up and down as needed to respond to changing business goals. For example, companies can quickly assemble a new team to meet a business need by using contingent workers that are hired on a project basis. It’s also easier to move gig workers with a particular skillset between business teams for short-term work.

CRE groups must be poised to respond to the rapidly changing structure of business teams in the gig economy. That means being ready to move and rearrange office spaces at the drop of a hat. It means implementing technology that makes it faster and easier to manage churn. Another strategy is creating spaces with mobile and adjustable furniture that can transform to meet the changing needs of the team.

Read this article to learn more: 3 Strategies to Modernize Your Company Relocation Process

4. Enabling collaboration

Just about everyone agrees that more collaboration is what’s needed in the modern workplace. That’s because teamwork generates more and better ideas, driving the innovation needed to be competitive in the global economy. Increasing collaboration in the gig economy can be even more challenging, when teams are constantly in flux and people don’t know each other as well.

To encourage more impromptu collaboration within and between teams, CRE groups must provide appropriate collaborative spaces. That means understanding the spaces people need: is it more 10 person conference rooms or breakout spaces for 2 or 3? It’s also essential to provide perks and features that make people want to come into the office, such as gyms and coffee lounges. CRE must provide the office design and technology that helps people get more work done, like quiet phone booths, smart whiteboards, and comfortable team huddle areas.

5. Contributing strategy and analytics for the workplace of the future

To effectively support the growing gig economy, CRE professionals will need to grow well beyond their traditional roles. It’s now essential that CRE work closely with business units and contribute a voice to the company’s strategic vision.

Understanding how people use space (and want to use space), as well as developing appropriate workplace strategies that align with company goals, requires the ability to measure and analyze. For example, creating agile workspaces is a key strategy for optimizing the use of workspace and meeting all the challenges described here. However, implementing that strategy requires detailed and timely data about how space is used and who is using it.

Utilization technologies provide the means to track that data, and the right workplace management system provides the context and the ability to glean intelligence for decision making. Here’s a great resource to learn more: Managing Workplace Utilization.

There’s no question that the gig economy brings added complexity to the tasks of managing corporate real estate. New skills and strategies are needed, and all of these depend on being able to deliver reliable and flexible business intelligence.

Here’s how CoreNet summed up their recent report on the future of CRE: “… providing metrics and analytics will be the next frontier of managing a company’s greatest resource – its people … whoever can provide useful tools to measure progress in these areas will certainly earn a seat at the leadership table.”

Related article: Using Business Intelligence Analytics to Drive Better CRE Decisions

Download a guide to managing workplace utilization today.


Problems With Occupancy Reports? You’re Doing It Wrong

Workplace occupancy reports: how’s that going?

What’s your level of frustration with your workplace occupancy reports?

A.  Just fine, thank you. They give me everything I need.
B.  I’m uneasy basing my decisions on them.
C.  Annoyed with what I’m getting and embarrassed to show them to anyone.
D.  I’m tearing my hair out as we speak.

Since you’re reading this, chances are you’re in the B to D range (or even all the way to Z). If so, your frustration with occupancy reports is understandable. After all, there’s a lot riding on the CRE plans and decisions you’re making every day. There’s the cost of long-term leases and all those empty desks, for one thing. Not to mention your reputation and your inability to move toward modern workplaces that better support your business.

Without accurate and actionable information from your occupancy reports, you probably feel like you’re flying blind. As a result, your decisions concerning your CRE portfolio may not be working out as you hoped they would. You are likely facing low occupancy rates, lots of wasted space, and business units that are just as frustrated as you are.

Let’s talk about some of the most common problems with occupancy reports, and how modern workplace reports technology can improve things.


Top 6 frustrating problems with occupancy reports

1. It takes too long!

Whether you’re crunching numbers yourself, or relying on analysts to pull together the occupancy reports you need, it’s a maddeningly slow process. If you’re doing it yourself, you’re stuck at your desk well into the evening juggling spreadsheets. Or struggling to extract some useful information from your behemoth IWMS database.

You might be even more frustrated if you’re waiting days or even weeks for someone else to produce the commercial real estate analysis you’re after. That’s because analysts have to pull raw data from various sources, crunch all those numbers manually and put the results into a (somewhat) readable format.

SPOILER #1: Imagine if you could just open a modern workplace tool and click a button to get the information you need.

2. Information is unreliable

Are you collecting occupancy data with manual audits? How often is your data validated? When you’ve got incomplete or out-of-date occupancy information (or likely both), nobody trusts the data in your occupancy reports.

You heard the old adage, “garbage in, garbage out.” That’s why, when you finally do manage to get a report, you probably find yourself reluctant to trust what it’s telling you. Certainly your superiors and your business units won’t.

SPOILER #2: How much more would people trust you (and your plans) if you had accurate occupancy data? Using the right tools, you won’t need to waste time with manual audits. Believe it or not, you can get business units to enter and validate their own data.

3. You can’t get the level of granularity you need

Are you stuck with the canned occupancy reports provided by your IWMS system? These will rarely provide the level of detail you need to make decisions. For example, you can only see occupancy levels at a building level, rather than for a particular business unit or team.

You also might have data that’s stored in non-auditable locations, so you have no ability to track high level metrics. For example, how many move requests did you fulfill this year? If many of the requests are stored in email instead of a ticketing system, you have no way of knowing.

SPOILER #3: How much better could you plan the use of space if you could drill down in occupancy reports to see the exact information you want? Or access a central source of truth to roll up information and see how you’re meeting high-level goals and KPIs?

4. Customizations are difficult

Another reason canned occupancy reports don’t fit the bill is that they are never designed for the way you do things. If you want to do something as simple as change terminology in an IWMS report, you’ll have to pay extravagant fees for (and wait ages for) customizations.

SPOILER #4: What if you could get customizations done quickly and easily? Impossible? Not with the right workplace management system.

5. Presentation quality is poor

Are you actually embarrassed to share occupancy reports with your superiors? Not surprising when you see the sophisticated, graphical dashboards and reports your business unit counterparts are producing.

This is really about more than impressing people; it’s about wasted time. When you have to pour over piles of complex, cumbersome spreadsheets to get answers, it hampers your ability to make decisions.

SPOILER #5: Grasping the essence of your data is much faster and easier with interactive visualizations. And it takes seconds as opposed to hours to find out what you need to know. Plus, you look like a star!

6. Can’t integrate multiple data sources

It’s difficult enough to track occupancy without a modern workplace management system. What if you’re tasked with tracking actual hourly utilization of space, with the goal of moving to flexible work spaces?

To plan for the efficient & collaborative workplace of the future, you need workplace reports that can aggregate data from a variety of sources. These include badge reader systems, sensor technology, WiFi triangulation, and many others. There’s little chance you can pull that together manually, or using an IWMS system.

SPOILER #6: What if you could see heatmaps on a floor plan showing real-time space utilization? You can plan seat ratios by neighborhood, revise the mix of space types on a floor, and even provide wayfinding tools for your employees.


Modern tools do it better

You’ve probably guessed by now that you can easily fix all these occupancy reports problems with modern workplace management software. Here’s what you can get with the right best-in-class technology:

  • A central source of truth for all your CRE data. And TRUTH is the key word here: data that’s accurate and up to date.
  • Less work for your CRE team gathering occupancy data and more help from your business units. (Read this related post to find out how you can “crowd-source” your occupancy data: The 8 Superpowers You Need For Office Space Management).
  • Always-available presentation-quality commercial real estate reports that make you look good and are available at the click of a button.
  • Visual reports like heatmaps, building-level stack plans and floor plans showing seat assignments that make it easy to find & process information.
  • The ability to drill down and slice & dice information exactly how you want to see it. Or roll up data from numerous sources to provide high-level insights.
  • The ability to track utilization data from numerous technologies and see that data in a useful format for driving smart decisions for smart environments.

Want to see how easy it is for us to customize workplace reports in Serraview? Watch our video.

Isn’t it time you moved up to the “A” level for your workplace occupancy reports?

The right reporting tool is only one of the essential vetting points for workplace management software. Get this informative guide so you don’t overlook anything that could make you regret your decision: 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.

Create an activity based working strategy. Learn more today.


Serraview Welcomes Jo-Anne Mann as Global Head of Client Success

MELBOURNE, Australia – September 26, 2016 – Serraview, a leader in workplace management and optimization solutions, is pleased to announce that Jo-Anne Mann has joined the firm as Global Head of Client Success. The appointment comes as the firm continues its expansion beyond APAC and North America to serve the global market, and addresses corporations’ increasing desire to transition to modern, agile workplaces.

Jo brings over 15 years of experience in corporate real estate. Most recently she served as Executive Manager, Customer Relationship Management for Suncorp’s Corporate Real Estate Division, where she provided expertise in the design and delivery of workplace management solutions aligned to the group’s strategic business plans. Jo was also responsible for delivering Suncorp’s agile working initiative.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jo to our leadership team during this exciting period of growth for the company,” said Serraview CEO Stephen Macnee. “She brings a remarkable energy, thought leadership and depth of experience in moving large corporate occupiers to Activity Based Working (ABW). Jo has also garnered an exceptional reputation for delivery amongst her corporate real estate peers. Our entire team is very much looking forward to having Jo on board.”

In her new role, Jo is tasked with harnessing Serraview’s global customer success team and technology to help customers save money and build out their workplace of the future faster and more efficiently. Jo plans to focus on people productivity, one of her key business drivers, as she implements workplace management strategies that achieve both bottom line savings and top line productivity improvements.

At Suncorp, Jo led the successful implementation of smart environments across Suncorp’s entire portfolio in Australia and now New Zealand. The move has saved Suncorp millions of dollars year on year, taken the utilization of their portfolio from 50% to 92%, along with providing employees with more flexibility, mobility, and a cultural shift toward collaboration.

“Serraview’s workplace management software was a key contributor in this implementation,” said Jo. “It enabled us to really understand our utilisation, reduce our portfolio footprint, and at the same time save the company millions of dollars. Allowing our people to choose how and where they worked also increased the opportunities to interact and collaborate more in a shared environment. Now I’m looking forward to moving to the technology side, and sharing my passion for workplace management across all of Serraview’s global clients.”

Prior to her work in corporate real estate and workplace management, Jo owned an IT consulting company that provided project and change management services to large corporations.

Interested in joining the Serraview team? Contact us today.


Scenario Planning Tools Simplify Workplace Optimization

A couple of months back, Ian Morley discussed workplace optimization on the award-winning business program, Worldwide Business with kathy ireland®. He shared that many corporations are wasting 50 percent or more of the space in their real estate portfolios. Kathy wanted to know, “why is workplace optimization so challenging?”

Watch the interview: Serraview’s Workplace Management Software Success Stories Featured on Worldwide Business with kathy ireland®

Here’s one of the key reasons: there are many time-consuming steps involved in making even the smallest improvements to a company’s use of space.

Simply moving a few teams around on one floor is a complex project that can take weeks or even months to plan and execute successfully. Re-stacking an entire building is vastly more complicated, potentially involving hundreds of teams and thousands of people. The idea of optimizing your company’s work space on a city, region or even global level can seem truly overwhelming.

Even the most experienced space planners will agree that optimizing space on a large scale is a monumental task without using modern scenario planning tools.

Just like a home space planning tool lets you test your ideas for rearranging the living room without moving furniture, the best corporate scenario planning tools also allow you to test your ideas on a floor, building, or even region-wide scale without the heavy lifting.

Scenario planning the old (and inefficient) way

Does this sound something like what you’re doing now, without scenario planning tools?

  1. You need to fit a new team into a floor. You suspect there are vacancies, but you have no idea exactly where they are.
  2. Time for a manual audit: you send out your team with clipboards in hand to check every desk and find out who sits there and what team they work for.

Read this related article to learn more about better alternatives to manual audits: Why Bed Checks for Commercial Space Planning Are So Yesterday.

  1. That information gets written by hand on a printed floor plan and highlighted with colored markers to show team locations. Then you enter the data into massive spreadsheets. This process alone typically takes days or longer.
  2. Once that’s done, you must validate the data with your business
    teams. You might enlist the help of move champions in each business unit for this task. You’re grateful for the help (even if you have to beg for it) but then you have control issues with so many people accessing your data.
  3. Many weeks later, you have a fair baseline (at best). Now it’s time to actually develop a move plan. When you lack modern scenario planning tools, this task involves printing a blank floor plan and getting out your trusty highlighters to color where teams might go. Or, you might just resort to using a whiteboard and post-its, like this:
Scenario planning tools: the old way and the modern way

Scenario planning tools: the old way and the modern way

Even if you have some occupancy data in an IWMS, you’re still stuck with planning any changes with outdated methods like this. You won’t find any useful and scalable scenario based planning tools in an IWMS.

Learn more about IWMS deficiencies for scenario planning: Is Your IWMS Missing Strategic Facilities Planning Features?

  1. Next, you need to run your plan by management for approval, then get buy-in from each affected team. Well, that never works out the first time around. Each time you need to make a change, you must start from scratch with a fresh blank floor plan. Without automated scenario planning tools, you’re probably going through a lot of markers! Not to mention trees.
  2. When everyone finally agrees on a plan, the real fun starts. Now it’s time to figure out the dependencies and move sequences to get everyone in their new spaces. This is another manual task that takes a great deal of time. And the consequences of making a mistake are costly: have you ever tried to move a team into a space that’s still occupied?
  3. Possibly the worst part of manual scenario planning is communicating the information needed by the people being moved. Once again, you’re printing out floor plans. Individuals are lucky if they receive a map with the general location of their team. Maybe they get a workstation ID and need to find it on their own.

Needless to say, people get lost, their work is interrupted and they wind up frustrated with the move. No wonder everyone dreads moving and your business teams do everything they can to fight your optimization plans.

The good news is, many of these time-consuming and inefficient planning steps can be eliminated, or made vastly simpler, with the right automated scenario planning tools.

Modern scenario planning tools make you an agile planning team

One of the frustrating problems with manual scenario planning is the fact that you’re shooting at a moving target. While you go through those slow and painstaking steps, your business continues to change at light-speed. That means you must be constantly re-validating your data and tweaking your plans throughout the move.

That’s where modern scenario planning tools provide a great deal of value. They allow your CRE team to be more agile, responding to changes quickly and adjusting without delays, mistakes and negatively impacting the business.

Here’s what workplace optimization can look like using modern workplace management software with scenario planning tools.

  1. You begin with a trusted source of truth about occupancy data, so you can skip the weeks of manual audits and juggling spreadsheets. Modern workplace management software provides automated tools for collecting and validating your information.
  2. To find pockets of vacancy, simply open your online floor plan and look at your team and seat assignments.
  3. Next, create a “what if” project using visual scenario planning tools to harvest empty seats. It’s as easy as dragging and dropping teams and individuals into a new spot. You can easily create a plan for a floor, or restack one building or multiple buildings. No more paper or highlighters! You can even create multiple scenarios in minutes to try out different plans.

Want to see how it works? Watch our video

  1. Now you’ve got a professional-looking floor plan visualizing your new scenario to present to management and the affected teams. Even better, making adjustments takes minutes instead of re-creating the whole thing each time you tweak the plan.
  2. With scenario planning tools, collecting move requirements is simplified, too. Teams and individual data are already in the system, so all you’ll need to do is add asset information and special requirements for those you haven’t moved before. It’s easy to add details and validate data with an online move matrix that allows your teams to take ownership of their information.
  3. When it’s time to execute the move, the system automatically generates all the move dependencies and sequences for you. That means your moves happen faster and with no embarrassing and costly mistakes.
  4. Perhaps the best part is the improved service you can offer to your employees. Prior to the move, you can use email templates to set up comms for everyone involved. Imagine how pleasantly surprised people will be when they get an email the week before the move, with everything they need to know including a personalized floor plan showing the exact location of their new workstation.

Use email templates to set up comms like this

The icing on the cake

It’s easy to see how much time you stand to gain using modern scenario planning tools, not to mention gaining the trust of your business units and your superiors. But there’s another gain that can be even more valuable.

Instead of always needing to react and catch up, scenario planning tools help your CRE team gain the ability to proactively plan for the future of your business.


Spend some of the time you’ve saved with scenario planning tools getting to know the business units you serve. Learn as much as you can about their plans and their goals. Ask them how space can better meet their needs. For example, would it help to consolidate a team in one location, or to align teams that can benefit from working together? Would it be more useful to provide more meeting spaces that seat fewer people rather than a few big conference rooms?

Armed with this information, you can proactively plan workspaces that actually work for your business and have a significant impact on their productivity. You’ll also find yourself gaining a seat at the strategic table.

How can you get started? You’ll need a space management system that provides sophisticated scenario planning tools.

Learn how to properly evaluate potential solutions with this helpful guide to 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.



Why Bed Checks for Commercial Space Planning Are So Yesterday

Still relying on manual audits or “bed checks” to collect occupancy data for your commercial space planning? We don’t need to tell you it’s inefficient, but you’re losing more than you think without a modern workplace management tool.

6 reasons why bed checks aren’t useful for commercial space planning

1. Labor-intensive and costly
To properly handle commercial space planning, you need to know which work spaces are being used and who is using them. Walking the floors with a clipboard and checking off occupied desks sounds simple enough. But with multiple regions, dozens of buildings, hundreds of floors and many thousands of work points to check, it takes quite a lot of people (not to mention money) to gather all that data manually.

TRY THIS: How much are space planners making? How long does it take to audit a floor, then input the manual data into a spreadsheet or IWMS system? How often does the task need to be done to update the data? Do the math and see how much this inefficient process is costing you.


2. Take too long to capture constantly-changing data
That brings up another big problem with bed checks for commercial space planning. How long does the process take to audit even one building? Keep in mind, during that time your business is not standing still. If you’re like most large corporations, people join the company and leave the company every day. Teams continue to move around. So by the time you’re done with one floor and moving on to the next, your data about the first floor is already out of date.

After weeks (or longer) of work collecting and compiling data, the result is inaccurate. And the worst part? You need to start all over again to update it! It’s like your dog chasing his tail: you’ll never quite catch up.

3. Subjective process that’s prone to error
As we mentioned, to those who have not done it, conducting bed checks for commercial space planning seems like a simple task. Just check off which desks are in use.

Well, that’s never as easy as it sounds. People try to game the system. There’s a computer on this desk, but nothing else. Is someone using that or not? This desk has a pile of files, but not much else. Is it a dumping ground for someone’s extra stuff or is that space in use? An empty-looking cubicle could turn out to be assigned to someone who is currently traveling or off on leave. In some cases, teams actually try to “hide” vacant space by putting coffee cups or jackets there to try to fool you into thinking it’s in use.

As a result, the manual audit process is subjective and error-prone by nature. That gives people even less confidence in the data and your commercial space planning.

4. No ability to track utilization
We don’t need to tell you this: today’s mobile workforce is using space differently. So even if bed checks could tell you accurately which spaces were assigned to whom, the process tells you nothing about actual utilization of space. Even if someone is assigned to a space, how much time do they spend there? Optimizing space based on utilization data is the biggest opportunity to reduce CRE costs.

That’s the data that should be driving your commercial space planning and helping you to create more efficient and productive modern workplaces.


5. Contributes to adversarial relationships with your business
Why do you suppose those teams feel the need to “hide” vacant space when they know you’re coming around to check? They want to keep ownership of that unused space because they’re not sure they can get more when they do need it. Simply put: they don’t trust you to provide what they need. The inefficient manual audit process only contributes to that lack of trust.

On the other hand, modern tools for commercial space planning help you do the opposite: build good relationships with your teams by solving problems and meeting their needs. More on that in a minute.

6. Can’t help you plan for the future
With manual commercial space planning, you have no basis for making good strategic space decisions. When considering renewing leases, adding or consolidating space, or implementing flexible workspaces, you need more than occupancy data (and flawed data at that).

Successful strategic planning requires an understanding of your business units, their goals, and their projections about how their space needs will change over time. To get that information, it’s imperative to gain their trust. You also must have modern tools in place so it’s easy for teams to provide that information.

The modern way to collect data for commercial space planning

Even if you have a legacy IWMS system that’s not helping you much with commercial space planning, you can still take advantage of modern tools that can change everything. Here’s what you get from a best-in-class workplace management system like Serraview:

  • Integration with your other enterprise systems (including your IWMS) to provide reliable data about your organizational structure and workforce.
  • Business units can enter and update their own occupancy data, so it’s always current and accurate. Even better, they can provide you with projections for future space needs. Think they won’t do it? Read this article to learn how to make it happen: How to Get Business Units to Help With Office Space Management.
  • Accurate data visualized on a floor plan and in customizable dashboards and reports. This feature completely changes the conversation with your business about commercial space planning. You quickly gain their trust when they can see you know all about them and have the ability to meet their needs.
  • Powerful scenario planning tools that help you create a plan to restack a building in minutes. Even better, you can easily create multiple scenarios to right-size your portfolio in an entire city or region. It’s a great way to turbocharge your commercial space planning.
  • Best-in-class tools (like Serraview) integrate with sensors, badge readers and many other utilization tracking technologies to provide real-time data about who is using space and how often. This goes far beyond tracking occupancy to help you optimize space, move towards modern flexible spaces and reduce CRE cost.

Read these resources to learn how corporations are moving away from inefficient manual audits and gaining the benefits of modern tools for commercial space planning:

How To Turbocharge IWMS With Facilities Space Management Tools

Learn how to manage your workplace utilization today.