Workplace Strategies Revolutionizing Office Space

The modern workplace is transforming the way people think about their office space. Leading enterprises are leveraging their workplace to benefit their business and their people. We recently hosted a webinar to address the best practices for the modern workplace. Our panel of industry experts Jill Zunshine, Former Global Head of Real Estate at HP, Tom Zampini, CEO of Beco, and Luc Kamperman, Partner of Veldhoen Company, shared their insights and lessons learned from working with workplace strategies and activity based working. Below we walk through some of the major highlights from each of our presenter’s presentations, read on to learn more.

How to Take a Workplace from Lifeless to Lively

Presented by: Jill Zunshine, Former Global Head of Real Estate, HP

When beginning a workplace transformation, you must gather data to understand how your company and how employees work. There are many ways to collect data, but there are 3 steps that cannot be forgotten.

  • Business Strategies: Understand each business line and function areas of your business. Talk to them about their strategy and goals for their department.
  • Employee Feedback: Gather and analyze engagement scores and satisfaction surveys to understand what employees think about the current workspace.
  • Utilization Percentages: Collect how space is being used and what spaces are being used for what type of activity. Having the right utilization collection technologies can accelerate your process.

“The best workplace strategies are designed around the people and their work,” says Jill Zunshine. When designing an activity based workplace, workstyles and work settings need to be considered. Jill uses five work styles and five work settings to understand how employees work. Here’s a few examples:

Work Style:

  • Agile: Often means flexible, frequent changes between collaborating and concentrating (ex. System software engineer).
  • Innovator: Refers to constantly developing or creating something new (ex. Research engineer).

Work Setting:

  • Entry Zone: Typically a reception area or business lounge. These types of settings are best for the traveler work style.
  • Quiet Zone: Little to no talking takes place in this area. This work setting is suitable for agile, concentrator, or innovator working styles.

*Design Tip: creating spaces that flow from an active buzz to a quieter noise level has shown to be most effective.

Watch the webinar to learn more about creating a lively workplace strategy >> 

Technology in the Modern Workplace

Presented by: Tom Zampini, CEO of Beco

From experience, Tom Zampini sees three problems that have arisen regarding the modern workplace:

  • Over Spending: Large and inflexible portfolios are heavily underused.
  • Failure to Embrace Digital: There’s a failure to embrace digital and thinking that mobility undermines productivity.
  • Working Environment: Companies are either working in new ways in old spaces, or working in new spaces that impede real work.

To combat these issues, today’s dynamic workplaces need real-time data. “There’s a need for real-time monitoring of space utilization across the entire portfolio. It’s not just a space study, it’s a perpetual measurement of all space, all the time, at scale,” says Tom.

Once you gather the real-time data, it unlocks the ability to see true success. Such as:

  • Saving on real estate: repurpose space, delay expansion, and consolidate buildings.
  • Better management of workplace: optimize design, find a free space in real-time, and bring amenities online.

Watch the webinar to learn more about enabling the employee experience through mobile >> 

Industry Trends & Consulting Experiences

Presented by: Luc Kamperman, Partner at Veldhoen Company

How leadership and employees engage with one another is changing right alongside the workplace. Once you have an activity based work environment, how do you support the employee’s productivity and innovation? Luc follows 3 factors to lead to better performance and personal satisfaction.

  • Autonomy: people want to explore, learn, and foster their inner drive. This can be supported by giving people control in their environment.
  • Mastery: employees should strive to get better at doing things, and encourage improvements and growth.
  • Purpose: what is connecting them to their work and workplace?

*Engagement Tip: If you want engagement, a self-directed approach is ideal.


When optimizing your workplace, an integrated approach is the most effective. An integrated approach consists of the physical, virtual, and behavior environment. What that means is:

  • Physical: the workspace
  • Virtual: mobilization of information
  • Behavioral: change and communication

Watch the webinar to learn more about the opportunities activity based working creates >>

The modern workplace means something different for every company. To learn more about how the modern workplace is impacting today’s organization watch our full webinar here.


Creating an Activity Based Working Strategy

Workplace transformation is becoming a primary focus for innovative companies. In fact, according to the CBRE 2017 Americas Occupier Survey Report, 86% of respondents are reinventing or adapting their workplace standards this year. But, where do you start? New and trending strategies seem to appear every week: open office design, hoteling, agile working. How do you know which strategy will work best for your business?

Today, corporations are relying heavily on their real estate teams to revolutionize their workplaces into modern spaces where employees and buildings are both effective and efficient. The multi-generational workforce has higher expectations from their employers and people want more from their office than just a place to sit. To accommodate these diverse needs and demands, leading enterprises are seeing the most success with activity based working environments.

Download Whitepaper: “Creating an Activity Based Working Strategy”

Leesman describes activity based working (ABW) as a transformational business strategy that provides people with a choice of setting, rather than forcing individuals to work at a singular desk location. Companies who have adopted ABW in their workplace strategy are finding it to be a long-term solution that addresses the modern workforce needs as well as aligning with business goals.

While many companies are realizing the benefits of ABW, the transition didn’t happen overnight. Their corporate real estate teams consider the multi-generational workforce, rising property costs, advancements in technology, and the war for talent when creating their workplace strategy.

To learn how progressive enterprises are developing successful ABW strategies, read our new step-by-step guide “Creating an Activity Based Working Strategy”.


Smart Building Solutions for Corporate Safety & Employee Experience

IWMS 2.0 – Driving lower costs and speed through integrated best in breed systems

According to Gartner, the “traditional, siloed management of the facilities life cycle is being challenged by bimodal business, the digital workplace, a mobile workforce and the Internet of Things (IoT).”

With the emergence of new workplace models and technologies, we are starting to see a shift away from traditional Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) to stand-alone software systems integrated through common APIs in order to achieve true best of breed capabilities across multiple service needs. In fact, one of the original founders of the IWMS concept, Michael Bell, has defined this shift as IWMS 2.0. According to Mr. Bell, IWMS 2.0 has the potential to achieve lower costs, faster implementation and valuable data-driven insights.

At we are strongly aligned with Michael Bell’s IWMS 2.0 vision. We are focused on solving very specific challenges for facilities managers such as;

  • How to improve the visibility of facilities services delivered?
  • How to improve efficiency and quality of services delivered?
  • How to use data to optimize delivery of facilities services?

Watch in action:

For a facility manager, these challenges form only one part of their overall remit. Whilst it’s tempting to build out a system that covers the entire facilities management function, we realize that by doing so we would be sacrificing the quality of our core product. Therefore, our preference is to integrate with complimentary products that are best of breed and solve a different set of challenges for facilities managers.

To illustrate the IWMS 2.0 model in practice, let’s explore how could integrate with another best in breed software product – Serraview. Serraview is a leader in space planning and management. is a leader in commercial cleaning software and optimizing delivery of facilities services. Combined, these two products can provide facility managers with an end-to-end solution for managing employees, assets, and delivery of facilities services.

Faster work order resolution through crowdsourcing issues

Serraview empowers employees with a wayfinding mobile app that allows them to find co-workers, locate open conference rooms, find meeting rooms, and navigate buildings. With a small amount of effort, this app could be extended to allow office employees to report maintenance, safety and cleaning issues. The issue would be sent to, via an API, and the appropriate responder would be notified via the mobile app. The issue would be managed via automated workflows until resolved, at which time the original employee who reported the issue would be notified via the Serraview mobile app.


  • Faster identification of building issues through crowd-sourcing
  • Faster resolution of issue through API driven cross-platform workflows
  • More satisfied employees through faster issue resolution and cleaner and safer work spaces

Employee feedback on standard of facilities

The traditional model for assessing the quality of facility services, such as cleaning, is via manual auditing. In simple terms, walking around a facility and scoring cleanliness for different areas of the facility. However, when you think about it, the facility services are provided to satisfy the needs of the end users, being the employees. Therefore it makes sense to let employees rate the quality of service delivered, and for facilities managers to use this data to assess the performance of service providers.

Employees could use the Serraview mobile app to rate the standard of facilities. This data could be sent to, providing facilities managers and service providers with a real-time quality score of facility services and employee satisfaction. Scores could be bench-marked across different facilities and low scores could trigger intervention by the service provider.


  • More reliable measurements for state of facilities and service provider performance
  • Ability to respond quicker to quality issues through real-time data and alerts
  • Ability to benchmark employee satisfaction with service across multiple sites

Improved employee satisfaction through demand-based cleaning

Serraview uses IoT sensors to understand how space is being utilized. This real-time utilization data could facilitate new service models such as demand based-cleaning. For example, Serraview could detect increased levels of activity in shared spaces such as meeting rooms, bathrooms, kitchenettes and send this data to via an API. If the activity levels exceed a defined threshold, would automatically create a non-scheduled task for a nearby cleaner.


  • More efficient use of resources, only cleaning areas that need attention

We hope that the examples provided demonstrate some of the benefits of an IWMS 2.0 approach to facilities management using two best in breed software systems. Even without tight integration, at we are firm believers that choosing a set of best in breeds systems has the power to reduce costs and increase speed and quality of services provided.

Download a guide to managing workplace utilization today.


Workplace Strategy: How to Go From Lifeless to Lively

The Journey to Workplace Productivity is a lot Like the Journey to the Wizard of Oz

Have you ever thought your workplaces were boring and lifeless? Have you ever wondered what could be done to turn your boring and lifeless workplaces around? I did. Once I inherited boring, lifeless workplaces. When you find yourself in this situation, you may be tempted to adopt the latest workplace trend. Remote working. Open office. Free address. Co-working. Back to the office. But how do you know that any of these trends will work for your business?

The best workplace strategies are designed around the people and the work. They boost workplace productivity by improving the employee experience, attracting and retaining talent, and improving business productivity. By how much? Here’s a striking example. One of Serraview’s large corporate real estate clients achieved:

  • 89% of people recommending their new workplace to others,
  • Four times more job applicants, and
  • 92% utilization of their corporate real estate portfolio, up from 50% three years ago.

How do you get there? The journey to workplace productivity is a lot like the journey to the Wizard of Oz. A tornado strikes. Dorothy is lost. She follows the yellow brick road to the Wizard of Oz. On the way, she meets three characters: the scarecrow, the tin man, and the cowardly lion.

  1. The scarecrow needs a brain. The brain in workplace strategy is gathering the data and creating design principles.
  2. The tin man needs a heart. The heart in workplace strategy is engaging people in the design and creating a design that engages people.
  3. The cowardly lion needs courage. Courage in workplace strategy is leading the change, especially when it’s difficult.

Brains, heart, and courage. Are you ready to get started? Here are three steps to transform your workplace from lifeless to lively with workplace strategy.

Workplace Strategy Step 1: Gather Data & Create Design Principles (“The Brains”)

“The role of the workplace strategist is to get to know the organization in a really deep way,” says Randy Howder, Gensler workplace strategist in Interior Design. “It’s more than just one vision session. It’s really living with the client, like how Frank Lloyd Wright used to go live with clients, to really respond to the environment.”

Gather Data

To get to know your company and inform your workplace strategy, gather the data to learn:

  • Business Strategies – for your entire company, every business line, and every function, especially human resources, information technology, and brand.
  • Industry Trends – for the industry your company is in, and perhaps even for related industries.
  • Employee Feedback – employee engagement surveys, workplace satisfaction surveys, and facilities satisfaction surveys.
  • Observations – real-time, in person workplace observation studies by a trained industrial engineer who observes activity in both dedicated and shared spaces.
  • Utilization % – how and how much space is used. This is where it helps a lot to have tools to collect and analyze the data. (Learn more from this white paper: Managing Workplace Utilization.)
  • Financial Results – operating expense, capital expenditures, and assets. Get it by site, if possible.

Gathering data to get to know your company and its business, can be the hardest and most time-consuming step, especially if you don’t have good systems, data, or relationships. But you must do it. Without it, you can’t design a workplace strategy that would meet your business needs.

Create Design Principles

When I gathered the data about my company and its business, and analyzed the data, here are the principles that I came up with. Some of them may apply to your company.

  • Connections – How can workplaces become the hubs and connection points for people, places, and partnerships?
  • Focus & Flexibility – Where will we work quietly, free from distraction and noise, and have the ability to change our workplaces based on our needs?
  • Engaging Experiences – How will we design engaging experiences rather than merely spaces?
  • Technology – How can technology bring the physical and digital worlds together? How can technology enlarge our world beyond the four walls?
  • Brand/Culture – How can workplaces communicate brand and culture?
  • Sustainability & Wellness – How can workplaces contribute to better health and better environmental outcomes?

Read more in this related article: Components of the High Performance Workplace

Workplace Strategy Step 2: Engage People in the Design & Create a Design that Engages People (“The Heart”)

Engage People in the Design

To create a design that engages people, start by engaging people in the design. If you prefer a more structured approach, consider ideation workshops or design thinking. If you prefer a less structured approach, consider focus groups or just talking with people.

Identify Work Styles

Identify the different styles of work at your company. They may vary within a business or function. They’re likely the same for one type of job or group of jobs. In technology companies and companies with a lot of technology, work styles may include:

  • Agile – flexible; where a person changes quickly and seamlessly between collaborative and concentrative work. Typical jobs include systems software engineers.
  • Communicator – connects and collaborates with his or her team; where a person balances face-to-face interaction with virtual meetings. Typical jobs include brand managers.
  • Concentrator – spends the majority of time on focused work; where a person shares ideas and builds community in a team setting. Typical jobs include region counsel.
  • Traveler – continually visits client sites when not in the office; where a person uses free address or touchdown space when in the office. Typical jobs include field technical support consultants.
  • Innovator – develops future products; where a person works heads-down, testing and building products, and also shares their work for feedback. Typical jobs include research engineers.

Create Work Settings and Zones

In your workplace strategy, create zones that bring the design principles to life and serve as primary or secondary work settings for each of the work styles. In the example below, the physical layout ranges from an active buzz at the entry zone to focused concentrative places in quiet zones. Here’s how:

  • Entry Zone – reception, business lounge, and showcase center. Emphasis on connections, engaging experiences, technology, brand/culture, and sustainability & wellness. Primary work setting for travelers.
  • Hub Zone – cafés, open dining, and break out spaces. Emphasis on connections, focus & flexibility, brand/culture, and sustainability & wellness. Primary work setting for agile, communicators, concentrators, and travelers.
  • Garage Zone – open and enclosed spaces. Emphasis on connections, focus & flexibility, engaging experiences, technology, and brand/culture. Primary work setting for agile and innovators.
  • Neighborhoods – team-based zone. Emphasis on connections, focus & flexibility, and engaging experiences. Primary work setting for communicators and concentrators.
  • Quiet Zones – little to no talking. Emphasis on focus & flexibility and technology. Primary work setting for agile, concentrators, and innovators.

You may also provide specialty areas in your workplace strategy, such as customer briefing centers and auditoriums. Consider where they belong relative to the other places. Close? Far away? Completely separated? And, will specialty areas sometimes serve a dual purpose as work space or public space?

Workplace Strategy Step 3: Lead the Change (“The Courage”)

Take accountability for leading the change. Dedicate time and resources to it, and get help when you need it. Communicate early and often. Leading the change is much easier if you’re completing or you already completed steps 1 and 2. Steps 1 and 2 help you make the case for your workplace strategy with facts & figures, as well as feelings.

Take accountability if and when the going gets tough. Ask for and give air cover. Ask for input, and make sure you both listen and hear what people say about your workplace strategy. And above all else, stay focused on the goal: boosting performance of the people and the business.

By following these three steps, you can achieve great results with your workplace strategy, as I did. Plus, you’ll be well on your way to lively, high performance, and perhaps world-class workplaces.

Download Creating an Activity Based Working Strategy today.


HR, IT & CRE: A Trifecta for Workplace Transformation Strategy

In many organizations, the corporate real estate team is leading the effort to transform workplaces into more modern spaces that better support the workforce. However, to be successful your workplace transformation strategy must be about more than designing better spaces. Moving to a modern workplace also requires significant technology changes, as well as change management programs to help staff not only adjust but flourish in the new environment.

That’s why your workplace transformation strategy should not be developed by the CRE team alone. Outcomes for the company and for employees improve with interdepartmental collaboration between your CRE, Human Resources and Information Technology teams.


What HR and IT can contribute to the workplace transformation strategy

Moving to modern workplaces with flexible seating can be a monumental shift for employees. The fact is, you’re asking them give up ownership of their desks and significantly change their work habits. In the end (when you do it right), your people will be happier and more productive. But people do resist change, at least initially, so a carefully planned change management strategy is a must. That’s where your HR department is vitally important to your workplace transformation strategy.

HR can and should be your “eyes and ears on the ground” with your workforce. They can plan and execute a frequent, proactive communication plan to help employees understand what you’re giving back and how they will benefit from working in the new environment. HR will also be the driving force behind employee health and well-being initiatives in the modern workplace, as well as training managers for leading in a mobile working environment, and providing the necessary policies around flexible working.

One of the biggest investments you’ll need to make for your workplace transformation strategy is modernizing your technology infrastructure to support mobility and shared workspaces. You’ll need help and guidance from your IT group in implementing the best options for your workforce while also staying within budget.

Typically, CRE already understands that modernizing your workplace is a win for the company, the employees and ultimately, your team as well (even though it will take a significant effort to achieve). On the other hand, your HR and IT departments may not understand why they should contribute to your workplace transformation strategy. So how can you overcome resistance and get them on the team?

Interdepartmental collaboration: how to gain buy in and assemble a team

Here’s a three-pronged plan for convincing your HR and IT people to help with your workplace transformation strategy.

1. Share what’s in it for them

When you want to engage your HR and IT teams, it’s helpful to think about the benefits of the modern workplace from their point of view.

What’s one of the biggest issues faced by your HR department? Attracting and retaining talent has become a huge challenge for many companies, and one that workplace can impact for better or worse. Offering a cool, modern, high-tech workplace can make your organization an employer of choice for applicants.

Read more: 3 Workplace Strategies for Attracting Top Talent


What are the benefits of the workplace transformation strategy for your IT group? One is obvious: the opportunity to try out new technology. However, there are more benefits that can reduce their workload for supporting and maintaining technology. Such as: moving to an IT strategy to support shared workspace and mobility is also an opportunity to standardize equipment, streamline supported applications, and also consolidate the number of devices in the workplace. A great example of this is workplace printers: moving from desktop printers at every workstation to larger, shared multifunction printers reduces the load on IT as well as the service and support budget.

2. Include IT and HR goals in your workplace transformation strategy

Beyond simply explaining the overall benefits of modernizing the workplace, you can win over your IT and HR teams by helping them to meet their specific KPIs and objectives. Start by asking each group about some of the initiatives they are currently working on, and then incorporating those goals into your workplace transformation strategy. Here are a couple of examples of how to do that.

Let’s say your Human Resources group is working on a plan to improve workplace health and safety, with the goal of reducing absenteeism and lost worktime. Your job is to build that goal into your workplace transformation strategy. Giving workers more flexibility and the ability to move around has been shown to reduce lost worktime. That’s a reason why call center workers and others who are traditionally chained to a desk tend to have high absentee rates. Something as simple as giving them wireless headsets so they can walk over to the window while they talk, or walk to the printer to retrieve a document, can improve health and wellbeing, reduce lost time, and even improve productivity.

Your IT group may be working on improving building security. One problem with traditional badge-swipe technology for entering a building is tailgating: when a person swipes in and holds the door open for others. In an agile workspace, you need a better handle on who is using which space and better technology to track your people. That technology can also serve to improve security from an IT perspective. For example, using an app to enter as well as exit a space provides valuable information for space planning, and also makes your building more secure, since it eliminates tailgating (people have to swipe to get out, so they can’t skip swiping to get in. To gain the interest from your IT group, include plans that meet their objectives in your workplace transformation strategy.

3. Address their concerns about workplace transformation

Your IT and HR groups are going to have questions and concerns about your plans to implement a modern workplace. Make sure you address these in your messaging, and let both groups know need them involved so you can develop a workplace transformation strategy that works for everyone.

Common HR concerns:

  • What will be the impact of this new environment on our people? HR needs to understand how employees will benefit from the modern workplace and how they can communicate that information to the workforce.
  • How can we support the behavioral changes we need from workers in a shared workspace? Achieving the desired outcome from your workplace transformation strategy requires not only workplace changes, but support programs, education and policy changes.
  • How can we help leaders to manage in a mobile work environment? Help HR to understand that one of the most important goals of workplace transformation is creating a culture of collaboration and innovation. That requires managers to develop new leadership skills, and training is needed to help them get there.

Read about Suncorp’s change management plan here: 9 Steps to Implementing Change in the Workplace: Agile Spaces

Common concerns you’ll hear from IT:

  • How does the workplace transformation strategy impact the current and long-term IT strategy? You’ll need to work with IT to come up with innovative technology solutions that support new ways of working while also meeting IT goals for security and infrastructure.
  • How do we manage the costs for technology implementation IT may not have the budget to implement all the intelligent workplace technology you want at once. Work with them on the financial impact and to develop a workplace transformation strategy that aligns the priorities over time. For example, instead of going with mobile phones, initially you may be able to use desktop phones where mobile workers can login at a flexible workstation to receive calls.
  • How will flexible working impact service level agreements? In a traditional setting with low occupancy, a 4-day response time for repairs may be fine because there are always free workstations. However, in an agile setting with higher utilization, response times must be stepped up. However, you can work with IT to come up with other strategies for reducing their workload, such as providing self-service access to frequently requested items like keyboards, and standardizing the equipment and software employees use.

Working together improves the outcome of your workplace transformation strategy

When HR, IT and CRE all have a hand in planning and executing your workplace transformation strategy, the outcomes improve for everyone:

  • You’ve got a team anticipating problems from varying perspectives: technology, workplace and workforce.
  • You gain insights from everyone’s knowledge and experience, so you can proactively plan interventions that minimize concerns and prevent problems from derailing your project.
  • With the right workplace design, technology, programs and policies in place, your employees get tremendous improvements in their workplace experience. They can accomplish more, feel better and actually enjoy the environment and their workday.
  • The big gain for the company (in addition to the huge cost savings from optimizing wasted space) is revenue growth from the increased productivity and innovation that result from the collaborative workplace culture.

That brings us to one final point, which will not be lost on top leaders: the interdepartmental collaboration of your HR, IT and CRE teams on this project is actually modeling the collaborative culture you’re looking to develop within your company.

Find out more about how to get the benefits you want from your workplace transformation strategy.


Modern Workspaces: Getting Started With a Hybrid Workspace

Workplace transformation is not something that can be accomplished in a matter of months or even a year. Rather, it’s a continuous journey of evolution and learning that aligns your workplace with your company’s larger objectives. If your company is just starting out on this journey, you’ve certainly realized that it’s impossible to modernize your entire portfolio at once. That’s why, among all the buzz about the modern workplace, the term “hybrid workspace” is beginning to emerge.

What is a hybrid workspace? Let’s start with what it’s not: an end in and of itself. Hybrid represents an iterative process of moving from traditional to agile, modern environments that support the changing nature of work.


What are the goals behind workplace transformation?

Why is your company looking to begin modernizing your office portfolio with hybrid workspace? Chances are, the stats about wasted space in corporate offices and the staggering amount of money you can save by optimizing space got your attention initially.

However, most companies quickly realize that moving toward hybrid workspace has even bigger benefits. While cost savings in the tens of millions (or more) are often realized by moving to this new environment, smart organizations are re-investing a portion of that savings back into the workplace. They are adding features that support employees, which leads to productivity improvements that drive better top line results.

Learn more: Agile Working Benefits: Moving Beyond the Dollars

Enabling collaboration

First and foremost, workplace must help to transform the way companies operate. Today’s knowledge economy demands unprecedented levels of productivity and innovation for companies to stay competitive. Markets are being disrupted by new players with better ideas, and even the most well-established firms must up their game to maintain their position.

The fact is, innovation rarely comes from a solitary worker in an enclosed cubicle. Collaboration is the fuel that drives more and better ideas, which requires a significant cultural shift from your workforce. Teamwork needs to become the new standard operating procedure.

The biggest benefit of the modern workplace is creating environments that encourage people to work together. The hybrid workplace begins to break down barriers between teams by removing the physical barriers. Designs include open spaces like atriums, shared workspaces in common areas, staircases with seating, and even outdoor workspace. The design of the modern office encourages movement by locating desirable amenities in diverse locations, as well as making access easier with features like staircases. These modern spaces facilitate “casual collisions” throughout the workday to promote teamwork and increase collaboration. The physical environment mirrors and supports the cultural changes happening in the organization.

What does that look like? Watch these videos to see examples of workplaces that encourage collaboration:

Minter Ellison Workplace, Sydney
World’s Greenest Office Building Is Dutch: The Edge

Attracting and retaining talent

“The war for talent” is one just about every company is battling. Those that are winning are doing so with a powerful weapon: modern workplaces. According to CBRE, talent now trumps cost as the top consideration in workplace strategy.

Learn more: 3 Workplace Strategies for Attracting Top Talent

Even companies without a fully agile portfolio can attract and retain talent with hybrid workspaces. Workers from all generations are looking for physical spaces that offer attractive design, natural light, greenery, comfortable furnishings for different work styles, and the latest technology, as well as amenities like cafes, gyms and wellness features. An inviting, modern workplace becomes one more tick in the competition for talent. You’re no longer competing with other firms for top candidates based on salary alone, since you can offer a welcoming, efficient and effective workplace where people want to collaborate with others and accomplish their work. Your modern workplace can provide value that others can’t match.

Here are some of the types of environments that are attracting top talent for progressive companies:

The LEGO Group shares plans for new office building in Billund, Denmark
Salesforce Video Wall

Hybrid workspace: planning your journey from traditional to modern workspace

With a global portfolio and a workforce in the tens of thousands at least, change takes time. And it’s not only the physical transformation of space, but the strategic planning and change management that are required to ensure you achieve the desired outcomes.

That’s where the hybrid workspace comes into play: smart companies are transforming space in stages and using each project as a learning experience that feeds the next transformation.

With so many other companies on this journey, it might be tempting to plan your transformation around what other successful companies have done. The problem with this strategy is that every company is different. Even looking at what another company in your own industry is doing will not guarantee that the same strategy will work for you. This is an essential lesson we’ve learned firsthand supporting clients who are leading the way in implementing modern workplaces.

Instead, you need to discover the workplace strategy that will best benefit your business and your people. How do you do that? With thorough research and reliable data about what your people need and how they work best.

Read more about how to do that: Activity-Based Workplace Design: Why One Size Does Not Fit All

How can companies get started implementing the hybrid workspace?

While it is possible to transform your workplace a few floors at a time, the best results will come from starting with one building. That’s because it’s very difficult to achieve the cultural changes that are needed on a smaller scale. Your workforce needs to be immersed in the experience to truly embrace the new way of working.

That being said, while you’re in the process of planning and building your hybrid workspace, you can build excitement and help teams adjust to the new work style by setting up smaller pilots or “experience centers.” These could be a floor or two redesigned for non-assigned seating and activity-based working, where impacted teams can take turns working for a month or so prior to the big move to the new building.

Here are a couple of tips to help you get started planning your first workplace transformation.

Choose your location carefully

A new, modern workplace is exciting for your workforce, and many who are not slated to work there will be curious about the new space. There’s sometimes a risk of unassigned workers flocking to the new building, which can affect the working conditions and the outcome if you have 20% more people using the space than you planned for. So, for your first hybrid workspace it’s smart to avoid choosing a building that’s one of several in the same complex or even in the same neighborhood. Instead, choose a location that’s not too close to your other facilities.

Make it a learning experience

Remember that your hybrid workspace is just the first step to a fully agile, modern workplace portfolio. Your first efforts need to be chosen carefully so you can learn from the experience and apply that intelligence to future projects. So, make sure that the teams you choose to locate in the new space are a good representation of your organization. It won’t help you plan future spaces if you choose a homogenous group that is very different from the rest of your organization.

Also, remember that not every worker and every job function is well suited to working in an agile, collaborative space. For example, customer service or call center workers who spend most of their time on the phone may not have much to gain from the new setting. When choosing teams to work in the new hybrid workspace, be mindful of their daily tasks and work style and choose those will benefit most from working collaboratively.

In an upcoming blog, we’ll address the issue of understanding the needs of your workforce in order to design the right environments for each team. Don’t miss it!

In the meantime, read this guide for more tips for developing your hybrid workspace: Best Practices for the Modern Workplace.


Digital Wayfinding: Employee Experience Tools for Hybrid Workspace

As large organizations shift to modern, agile workplaces featuring non-assigned seating, there are many changes for employees. One of the biggest changes is giving up their desks and figuring out where they will work each day. With improving employee experience being one of the goals of the workplace transformation, the last thing you want is people having to walk the halls to find a desk every day. That’s the obvious reason why companies implementing agile working need a digital wayfinding system.

However, today’s digital wayfinding tools can do much more than help mobile workers find a seat. They can help to enable collaboration, boost productivity, optimize workspace, and serve as a secret weapon for the CRE team to monitor and improve employee experience.

Employee experience is critical in the hybrid workplace

Implementing agile workplaces is on the radar for most large organizations, but a full transformation can take years to accomplish. Many companies are making the move in stages, with some areas of the business going agile while others stay in traditional spaces (sometimes even within the same building). These so-called “hybrid” workplaces serve to reduce property costs while allowing the organization make a gradual cultural shift to a more modern way of working.

However, hybrid workplaces do present unique challenges for the corporate real estate team and the employees alike. For one thing, the new space may be visible and accessible even to those who are still assigned to the traditional space. That’s an opportunity to showcase the benefits and smooth the way for future projects. It also means there’s a lot riding on the outcome.

Here’s a resource that’s packed with tips to guide CRE teams in implementing modern workspaces that produce results: Best Practices for the Modern Workplace

Read on to learn some surprising ways that a digital wayfinding tool improves outcomes both for workers and for the CRE team.

3 ways digital wayfinding tools improve employee experience in a hybrid space

Digital wayfinding saves time and frustration for workers, boosting their productivity and making it easier for them to collaborate.

1. Finding a spot to work

Moving to an agile workspace can be challenging for workers who are accustomed to having an assigned desk. Here’s a common scenario when people have to use typical desk booking system:

  • People have to take the time to book a desk every single day. Adding yet another task to already busy people will not help champion the cause of the flexible workspace.
  • People forget to book a desk, so they just wander around until they find a seat.
  • Typical desk booking systems become inaccurate. Spaces that appear to be reserved are empty, and those that appear free are taken. So people still have to resort to wandering around the building looking for a seat.

This is not the kind of employee experience you had in mind for your modern workplace, is it? Here’s how that experience works with a digital wayfinding tool powered by real-time utilization data:

  • When people arrive, they glance at the kiosk in the elevator lobby, which shows currently empty seats highlighted on a floor plan. (Employees can also see this information by opening the digital wayfinding app on their phones or tablets).
  • They walk over and sit down. The floor plan automatically updates to show this seat as occupied, so no one else will attempt to sit there.

What could be easier? Not only are employees happier, they’re also not wasting time every day trying to find a space to work.


2. Finding a meeting room

Locating the right meeting space can be frustrating for everyone, especially for a meeting not planned in advance. Just like the desk booking system, room reservation systems have annoying limitations:

  • People book rooms for recurring meetings that are discontinued, but they never cancel the reservation. The room shows as booked when no one is using it.
  • Large conference rooms are taken by small groups of people, leaving the large groups scrambling to find a space.
  • Reservation systems may not provide information about tech equipment available in the room.

As a result, it can be difficult for groups to find an available room. The problem is compounded when they need video conferencing or other tech equipment in the room. Again, they are forced to walk the floors looking for a space to meet.

How does the process work with a digital wayfinding system?

Using a mobile app, locate a room with the needed capacity, equipment and amenities. The heatmap confirms that the room is currently unoccupied. Head on over for an impromptu collaboration session, or reserve the room for later if needed.

3. Finding a person in an agile space

When people no longer have an assigned seat, employees can be challenged to find one another in an agile workspace. That situation can be an impediment to collaboration, the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.

A digital wayfinding system powered by real-time network presence data helps everyone in the hybrid work space to locate one another. Here’s how it works:

  • Using the same kiosks or mobile app, search for a person.
  • See their current location, and walk over or locate an available desk nearby.

Even people working in the traditional space, or visitors who don’t know their way around the building, can use the digital wayfinding system to find their co-workers in the agile space.

Watch this video to see digital wayfinding in action: How Can Wayfinding Technology Shape Employee Experience?

Digital wayfinding: the benefits for CRE

Accommodating the needs of everyone in a hybrid workplace (with both traditional and agile spaces) can be tricky for CRE. Consider the following scenarios.

Optimizing meeting room space

In most traditional workplaces, conference room availability is not optimized for the needs of the teams using the space. You’ll typically find large rooms being booked for groups of 2 or 3 people, while other groups struggle to find space. In an agile space powered by utilization tracking and digital wayfinding, CRE has the data to optimize the space and improve employee experience at the same time.

For example, utilization data can reveal the optimal sizes for conference rooms, allowing CRE to reconfigure the space to provide more, smaller rooms to accommodate more meetings. That gives employees the freedom to have the impromptu collaborative work sessions that are proven to drive innovation.

Learn more: Workplace Transformation Strategy: Is Yours Based on Data or Perception?

When the agile workplace goes viral

When you unveil a new, modern workspace, the news travels fast. As agile workers discover all the benefits of the new space, they will be talking about it to all their co-workers. People still working in neighboring traditional spaces will visit out of curiosity. Some will even decide to use the meeting rooms and even begin working there regularly, even though they may not be assigned to the new area.

That can lead to overcrowding in the new space, and a potential problem for the CRE team. A digital wayfinding system that’s powered by network presence data can tell you how many unauthorized workers are using the agile space. That data can then provide the ammunition to gain approval for expanding the agile space to accommodate all the workers who want to use it, as well as expanding the company’s workplace transformation efforts overall.

Learn more: 9 Steps to Implementing Change in the Workplace: Agile Spaces

See how wayfinding can help you. Request a demo today.


Evidence-Based Decision Making for Corporate Real Estate

If your CRE organization is planning a workplace transformation initiative, you’re facing a great many important decisions ahead. To develop modern work spaces that work for your people and also reduce property costs at the same time, you must make the right calls about your workplace design.

If you’ve been reading Serraview’s blogs as well as the advice of many other workplace experts, you already know that there is no “one size fits all” model for the modern workplace. So how can you develop spaces that will be effective for boosting productivity, attracting talent and encouraging collaboration in your organization?

Here’s our advice for creating workplaces that optimize space and improve employee experience: base your decisions on the best evidence. Today we’ll discuss how the practice of evidence-based decision making can be applied to improve outcomes for workplace transformation.

Learn more: Activity Based Workplace Design: Why One Size Does Not Fit All

What is evidence based decision making?

The Center for Evidence-Based Management CEBMa defines evidence-based decision making as the practice of “making decisions through the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of the best available evidence from multiple sources.” It’s an idea that emerged from the medical industry and the practice is increasingly being applied to corporate management.

You may be surprised at how few decisions in business are based on trustworthy evidence. Far more often, decisions are based on beliefs, conventional (but unproven) practices, anecdotal experience, and what others are doing (even when the situations are significantly different).

When results are critical, experts recommend turning to more reliable evidence. According to a Harvard Business Review report on evidence based decision making, “when managers act on better logic and evidence, their companies will trump the competition.”

But what exactly is reliable evidence when it comes to workplace transformation?

Using evidence-based decision making for workplace transformation

CEBMa has defined 6 basic steps in the evidence-based decision making process. Here we explain how following these steps can guide your workplace decisions to produce better results for your organization. With so much riding on the outcome of your workplace transformation, you can’t afford to get it wrong.


STEP 1: ASK the right questions

Let’s say you want to transform one floor of traditional office space with assigned seating into several agile neighborhoods, incorporating activity-based work areas. According to evidence-based decision making guidelines, it helps to begin the process by breaking down your workplace design decisions into a series of answerable questions, such as:

  • How many workpoints does this neighborhood need to meet utilization targets?
  • What’s the appropriate mix of space types for the people who will use this area?

STEP 2: ACQUIRE evidence

To guide your evidence-based decision making, you need information about how many people from the impacted teams are in the office each day as well as how they use space. Possible sources include:

External benchmarks and “best practices.” What have others done and what were the results?

Stakeholders. Survey impacted teams and meet with managers to ask about space needs and average attendance figures.

Pilot programs. Before making big changes, conduct smaller trials to test plans and seating ratios. You can also measure differences in turnover rates, productivity levels and satisfaction for the impacted teams versus the overall employee population.

Utilization tracking technologies. Technology solutions can provide the most reliable evidence for your workplace transformation, collecting data about everything from team attendance levels to the size of groups using conference rooms. For example, your existing badge security data can provide attendance averages for various groups. Sensors can measure utilization of conference rooms and breakout areas. Network presence technology can track mobile workers as they move throughout an activity-based workspace.

Utilization tracking technology is a complex subject. Learn more from our comprehensive guide: Managing Workplace Utilization.

Read on to learn how to weigh these information sources in terms of reliability for evidence-based decision making.

STEP 3: APPRAISE your sources of information

Not all sources of evidence are going to be equally trustworthy for helping you make the right workplace design decisions. For example, while it’s great for relationships to understand the values and concerns of your business teams, the information they give you may not be completely accurate. They are likely to overestimate attendance, and may misrepresent their usage in an effort to hold onto the space they have.

Likewise, benchmarking data and success stories from other companies are great ways to learn about new ideas, but what others do may not be appropriate for your business. You can’t be sure you’ll see the same results.

According to CEBMa, for evidence-based decision making to be effective, you need to focus on the “best available evidence.” For workplace transformation, that means conducting pilot programs and implementing utilization tracking technology that provides actionable data that proves how your people are using space.

Learn more: Workplace Transformation Strategy: Is Your Based on Data or Perception?

STEP 4: AGGREGATE the data

If you have any experience with utilization tracking technologies, you know that each type has its strengths and limitations and you will likely need several sources to gather all the data you need. That means you’ll need a way to aggregate your data and make it actionable.

That’s why companies with effective modern workspaces are deploying workplace management technology designed to integrate utilization data from multiple sources. Applying evidence-based decision making to your workplace transformation decisions is easy when you can visualize your best evidence displayed as heatmaps on your space plans.

STEP 5: APPLY your intelligence

Armed with intelligence from reliable sources about how your teams are using space, you’re in the best possible position for successful evidence-based decision making about workplace design. For example, you can optimize a building by moving to flexible workspace with the correct seating ratios. And create the best employee experience for each team because you have an accurate understanding of the space mix that supports the way they work.

One important caveat, though: a change management plan is essential to the success of your roll-out. Learn more about how to do that: 9 Steps to Implementing Change in the Workplace: Agile Spaces.

STEP 6: ASSESS the outcome

Workplace transformation is rarely a one-time event. Rather, it’s an ongoing process that starts with small areas and expands through the organization. Also, you must be constantly monitoring the results and so you can make adjustments as things change.

With each transformation project, you’ll gain valuable insights about your people and how they work most effectively. That’s why it’s so important to evaluate the outcomes of each project. This means not only surveying impacted teams and tracking changes in satisfaction, engagement, and retention levels, but also monitoring ongoing usage of space with utilization technology. Doing so validates your evidence-based decision making and helps you gain the best possible evidence for your next project.

Download Best Practices for the Modern Workplace today.


Workplace Transformation Strategy: Is Yours Based on Data or Perception?

It’s no secret that organizations with large portfolios of office space need to rethink how they’re using their space. Yours is probably like many CRE teams: pressured to make workplaces work better for the modern business and the mobile workforce. It’s a tall order, and there’s no magic formula for workplace transformation guaranteed to work for every company and every situation.

Are you struggling to create workplaces that get teams to collaborate, attract and retain talent, and enable the company to produce and innovate? Read on to learn why you may not be seeing the results you expected, and how to get your workplace transformation on the right track.

What’s wrong with your workplace transformation design?

This is a common scenario we see with companies just beginning to move toward modern workplaces: their first attempts at workplace transformation only go so far, and are sometimes disappointing.

Does this sound familiar? You get approval for a pilot program based on all the modern workplace benefits you’ve heard about. You begin to put together a workplace transformation strategy by doing observation studies. You might even go to the trouble of asking the impacted teams what they want in the new space. You purchase white boards and other enablement technology, put in lots of comfortable space for collaboration, and make sure to include those phone booths everyone wants for privacy.

After the workplace transformation is complete, your CFO wanders through the space and comes to you in dismay. Where is everybody? Why does the space still look underutilized? Why is nobody using the technology and furniture we spent so much money on? Why is the business still asking for extra space?

If you have found yourself in this situation, you are probably facing two problems:

  • How can you prove what’s working?
  • How do you fix what isn’t?

Learn more by watching this video: 5 Tips for Companies Moving to Agile Office Space


The problem: workplace decisions based on perception

When you began your workplace transformation project, you thought you were doing the right things: getting expert designers involved (either your own, or outside firms) to do observation, and asking employees about what they need. The problem is, both of those strategies can provide you with misinformation instead of reliable data.

Manual observation studies typically involve people walking around with clipboards, taking notes about the spaces that they see being used. The problem is, those observers can’t be everywhere at the same time. They can only record what they see. And the studies are only conducted for a period of days or a few weeks at the most, so they can’t capture changing conditions over longer periods. The issues are the same as using manual methods to record occupancy. (Read more about that here: Why Bed Checks for Commercial Space Planning Are So Yesterday.)

Asking your teams what they want is a great way to get them on your side. However, taking that information as gospel without verifying it often leads to poor decisions. Remember that teams being asked to move to a new way of working will be anxious about giving up their assigned space. In an effort to hold onto what they have, it’s likely they will ask for more space than they are actually using or overestimate how many people are in the office each day.

When you base your workplace transformation on these sources of misleading information, it’s no wonder that the results don’t work out as well as you hoped.

Here’s another problem: even though your new space may not be humming with collaborative activity all the time, you know that utilization has improved. But you have no way to prove that to the casual observer who walks through at the wrong moment.

So, how can you show your superiors what’s working better today? And get the reliable information you need to improve your workplace transformation strategy moving forward?

The solution: data-driven workplace transformation

The answer lies in turning to technology to gather reliable data about how your space is being used.

There’s a wide variety of different utilization tracking technologies on the market. Here are some examples of the kind of data you can collect and how you can use that information to prove what’s happening in your space, and also to plan more efficient and effective workplaces.

Badge data

Many companies begin by leveraging the badge scan data they already collect as employees enter the building. That data doesn’t provide details about where people are, but you do know who is in the building and what part of the business they work in. Using that information, you can produce average attendance by business unit or team to help you in calculating more accurate seat ratios for agile neighborhoods.

You’ll probably find that you underestimated those ratios in your initial workplace transformation attempts. Now you can adjust and take back the underutilized space. The result? A more active space that leads to more collaboration.

Badge data is also useful for building your business case for your next workplace transformation project. The data can show who is spending time in the office and help you estimate cost savings based on wasted space.

Learn more: Workplace Redesign: Building a Business Case

Because badge data can’t tell you specifically where people are, it won’t be able to help you plan the right mix of space types based on actual utilization. That’s where sensors can be useful.

Occupancy sensors

Sensors help you pinpoint where people are in your space, as well as how many are using different types of spaces over the course of a day, a week, or a month. That data can be very useful for learning things like:

  • Are meeting spaces optimized? You might find that a room designed for 12 is most often used for groups of 3 or 4, while others have trouble finding an open room. Using that info, you might decide to reconfigure the space into several smaller conference rooms.
  • Are people using collaboration spaces? In the scenario described earlier, walking through the space at a slow time gave a false impression about use of space and technology. Occupancy sensors can prove how often (and in some cases how many) people are using various areas in your workplace.

IMPORTANT: There is a wide range of sensor technologies available, and they don’t all provide the same level of granularity. For example, lighting sensors usually only tell you if someone is in the room, whereas desk level sensors pinpoint location down to a seat level. (We’ll explain more about sensor technology in an upcoming blog). Sensor data is anonymous, so you won’t know who is using the space. There’s also a capital investment you’ll need to make to install and maintain the sensors.

Network sensors

Network presence technology (such as Serraview Live) uses software to track where people are spending time in the office. As long as they are using their laptop, you can track their location in real time and over periods of time. There’s no hardware to install or maintain, and you’ll know who is where as well as how many people are using space and which spaces are available.

That data is extremely useful for another purpose: powering workforce enablement tools such as wayfinding technology. Using a kiosk or a mobile app, employees can easily find work spaces, meeting rooms, and colleagues in an agile work environment.

The downside is that people may not always bring their laptops to meetings in a conference room, so you may need to supplement this technology with room sensors in meeting rooms.

Because each utilization tracking technology has its strengths and limitations, most organizations deploy a mix to gather all the data needed to plan workplace transformation and manage effective and efficient space. That means you’ll also need a way to aggregate all the data from multiple sources and make it useful for making decisions.

Heatmaps: making sense of utilization data

You could employ a team of data analysts to pull together your utilization data and show you trends and actionable opportunities. Of course, then you’ll always be waiting for answers. Instead, deploy a workplace management solution designed to integrate utilization data from multiple sources (along with your space plans) and visualize it for smarter decision making.

Heatmaps provide you with a visual representation of how people are using space. You can drill down to the level of detail you need, and see real-time or data compiled over a specified time period. Heatmap data can show you hot and cold spots in your workplace, which can help you adjust your workplace transformation strategy to get the mix of space right for each team and each neighborhood.

If your workplace transformation isn’t producing great results, it’s time to take a hard look at your strategy. Is it based on perception or actionable data?

Here’s a resource that explains more about the different utilization tracking technologies: Managing Workplace Utilization.

Can traditional IWMS meet the requirements of the modern workplace? Learn more today.


Agile Workspace Design: Have you provided enough desks?

When you’re moving to an agile workspace design for the first time, there’s often a perception among employees that there won’t be enough desks for everyone. Watch this interview to learn proven strategies for effectively dealing with this issue.

Read more about agile workspace design and strategy here: Activity Based Workplace Design: Why One Size Does Not Fit All


Hi. Ian Morley, Serraview co-founder and Chief Evangelist.
Today I’m joined again by Serraview’s Global Head of Client Success, Jo-Anne Mann. Hey, Jo. Welcome back.

Great to be here.

Quick question for you today from one of our clients. So, a lot of clients are considering a move towards agile workspace design, but they’re wondering how, in your experience, you’ve dealt with the concern from some of your businesses that there won’t be enough free seats when they do move to agile working?

Yeah, that’s a great question. And I think it’s a concern in many organizations when you first start to roll out an agile workspace design. There’s a couple of things I advise people to remember.

One is to have the discussion openly… don’t shy away from it, number one.

But there is a perception around not enough desks with agile workspace design, because we take the ownership of an individual desk away from a person. So in a traditional workspace, you’ve always had that desk;
nobody else ever sits at it. With agile workspace design, other people will be sitting at that desk.

And so people think, naturally, because you’re not going to give a desk
to every single person, that there’s not going to be enough.

You should be doing a lot of research in your organization before you start agile working. So we did research in our organization that told us 50% of the time, not all people were present in the office.

So for varying reasons around annual vacations, personal time off, they have sick leave, they go to conferences or training courses, and travel between countries, interstate, between cities. Therefore you’re never, ever going to have a full workforce always there.

But there’s an inaccurate perception when people have never been through that transition to agile workspace design before.

So the key thing is to have data. If you’ve got really good data… and that’s where Serraview came in for our organization… around looking at utilization, we can prove to people that they’re not all present every day.

And typically in organizations, if you do that manually and walk around, you can see 50% of desks are not utilized. But people don’t believe perception or what you’ve observed, so I would always turn to a really
good data source.

So use a tool like Serraview that can actually show you that utilization. That will also help your organization sharing that business conversation, and actually taking people on that journey of “here’s the proof in the pudding,” if you like.

Learn more about utilization tracking technology here: Managing Workplace Utilization.

And so I imagine that a lot of that’s taking a very emotionally-charged
conversation potentially and changing it into a fact-based one.

Absolutely. Because there’s a lot of emotions. You know, as you start to implement change to an agile workspace design, people react in different ways.

But if you’ve got some factual data to back that up, that will prove to people that they can actually work in this different way and start being productive.

Sounds good. Thanks again.

Not at all!

If you do have any questions for Jo or anyone else at Serraview,
please do reach out to us over Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, using the hashtag #Askserreview. See you next time.