Serraview & Accruent Integrate Workplace Management Solutions

The recent announcement of Serraview’s partnership with Accruent has generated quite a buzz in the corporate real estate arena.

In case you missed it: Accruent Announces Strategic Partnership With Serraview

We’ve been getting a lot of questions, so today we’re letting you in on some of our plans and the unique opportunities our combined workplace management solutions will bring to companies transitioning to the modern corporate office.

Why have Serraview and Accruent teamed up?

Serraview and Accruent are both leading providers of workplace management solutions for companies looking to shape, drive, manage and control their real estate portfolio. Our goals are perfectly aligned: to enable corporations to make the best use of physical spaces and transform them into strategic assets.

Accruent’s workplace management solutions are at work in more than 5,800 leading organizations worldwide, including 40 of the top 100 retailers, 25 percent of the Fortune 500, 40 percent of leading universities, all 4 of the top U.S. wireless carriers, 55 percent of U.S. hospitals as well as leading service providers managing more than 15 billion square feet of property. Moving to the modern workplace is one of the primary concerns of these companies and institutions. The integration with Serraview ramps up support for organizations to realize the massive benefits of transforming and optimizing their work space, including:

  • Delivering destination workplaces that attract and retain talent
  • Supporting an increasingly diverse and mobile workforce
  • Enabling a corporate culture that fosters innovation
  • Savings tens of millions or more by eliminating wasted space and maximizing utilization

Find out more about the impact of workplace management solutions on workplace transformation from this white paper: Best Practices for the Modern Workplace.

How does the partnership better support the modern corporate office?

Today’s workplaces need to provide additional value for organizations that was never anticipated in years past. Pressure to reduce property costs remains high, but at the same time CRE organizations must optimize workplaces to enable innovation, attract talent, boost productivity and improve employee experience in the workplace.

Many progressive companies are accomplishing these goals by moving away from traditional allocated seating and transitioning to flexible shared spaces that workers can use as needed. Doing so allows organizations to reduce property costs by optimizing use of space, as well as provide workplaces designed to support mobility and enable each team to work the way they work best.

Learn more: Emerging CRE Tech for Workplace Space Optimization

The partnership between the Serraview and Accruent provides companies with workplace management solutions designed specifically for agile environments built around shared neighborhoods rather than assigned desks. Serraview’s space planning technology manages modern office space based on real-time utilization: visualizing space, creating what-if scenarios, right-sizing neighborhood allocations based on occupancy levels, and pinpointing opportunities for savings. Serraview also provides wayfinding technology that improves the employee experience in the workplace by helping employees find people, find colleagues and find meeting spaces in a large facility.


What are some of the new capabilities planned for the integration?

Here are just a few examples of how we’re planning to integrate Serraview’s and Accruent’s workplace management solutions:

Improve scenario planning with strategic data access. Serraview’s stacking and what-if scenario planning tools make it easy to combine pockets of vacancy into a contiguous space that can be freed up for other uses. You might be able to sublet the extra space, or even exit the space altogether. By adding easy access to Accruent’s leasing products, space planners can check lease expiration dates and sublet options when making space optimization decisions.

Enhance employee experience with integrated fault reporting. In many organizations, it’s cumbersome for employees to report on facility issues (such as malfunctioning equipment, broken furniture or HVAC problems). As a result, these problems often go unresolved for extended periods of time. Which leads to workplace faults that impact employee experience as well as productivity. Integrating Serraview’s wayfinding tools with Accruent’s facilities management tools can solve these issues by providing employees with an easy way to report repair issues. The wayfinding tool pops up a quick form for reporting, while communicating the user’s exact location to facilities staff, who gain a line of sight to where problems are so they can be taken care of on a timely basis.

Streamline the Move-Add-Change process. Managing moves within an organization is typically a time-consuming process involving several groups. Within Serraview, space managers receive space requests, find vacancies and make assignments, and schedule the move process. Accruent’s work order tools tee up the facilities staff to move boxes and furniture. And the IT staff that handles the technology changes required for the move. Integrating the two workplace management solutions will connect those two parts of the move process, allowing work orders required for the move to be created from within Serraview.

Our respective product and business development teams are excited by the potential of this new partnership, and we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of the functional enhancements we can provide for our clients in our combined workplace management solutions. Feel free to reach out to us with your questions!

Can traditional IWMS meet your evolving needs? Learn more.


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.


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.



Workplace Redesign: Building a Business Case

How do you develop financial justification for workplace transformation?

Even though office space is such a large chunk of the budget for just about every large corporation, until a few years ago companies didn’t seem to expect much of a return on that investment in space. It was simply considered a necessary cost of doing business. Today that’s changing in a hurry. Workplaces need to become business enablers that improve employee experience, attract talent, and boost productivity to help companies compete in the knowledge economy.

That’s why every day we see more companies embarking on the journey to implementing modern workplaces that help them meet their business goals. That process often starts small with pilot programs and small projects impacting a floor or a few teams at a time. Positive results at this stage encourage CRE teams to push for more of a good thing. However, gaining approval for a workplace redesign on a larger scale typically requires proving the financial payback for the workplace transformation with a business case.

How do you quantify what your business can expect to gain as a result of the workplace redesign? Here at Serraview, we work with large, global companies in all stages of workplace transformation, and these are the strategies we see them using to establish a solid business case.

3 Steps to building your business case for workplace redesign

Step 1: Calculate COST SAVINGS

Reducing your current expenses is the first place to look for the cost justification you need for your workplace redesign plans.


It’s no secret that office space is a big-ticket item, so reducing space by optimizing your property portfolio is where you’ll find the biggest cost savings with workplace redesign. Modern workplaces reduce property costs by eliminating assigned seating and implementing agile shared spaces instead. Think about how much space you could take back that’s currently under-utilized by mobile workers. A traditional office is commonly only 40 percent occupied at any given time. With an agile working strategy, you can eliminate that all wasted space by consolidating and exiting leases or subletting extra space, increasing utilization to 90 percent or more.

If you know your approximate space usage, you can make a ballpark estimate about how much you stand to save. Here’s an example: if your space is 40 percent utilized each day, how many workpoints (or desks) are being used each day on average? If your target is 90 percent utilization, how many workpoints can you eliminate? Most companies spend between $10,000 and $15,000 per workpoint on space. If you can eliminate 1000 workpoints, you can potentially save $10 million to $15 million per year in space costs.

This is just a starting point; with modern space utilization technology and analytics you can gather actual utilization data for each business team and each area you plan to transform. Having hard evidence from sensors, heatmaps and usage analysis allows you to plan your workplace redesign correctly so you have enough space (and the right types of space) to support each business team. That maximizes your cost savings while also ensuring you’re providing the best employee experience.

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


With workplace redesign, eliminating unnecessary space also allows you to eliminate the operations costs associated with that space, including:

  • Energy costs for lighting, HVAC and plumbing
  • Cleaning
  • Facilities maintenance
  • Security


According to the Society for Human Resource Management, every time a business needs to replace an employee, the cost is between 6 and 9 months’ salary. And that’s for mid-level workers. For a top executive, the cost can be double their annual salary. That’s just one reason why companies are looking to the modern workplace to help retain talent.

What’s the current attrition rates for the teams in your traditional workspaces? Comparing those figures to attrition rates in modern spaces with a better employee experience can be eye-opening. How many people can you save from leaving the company with your workplace redesign and how much in recruitment costs when you don’t need to replace them?

Step 2: Calculate COST AVOIDANCE

In some parts of your property portfolio, you may find that you’re not in a position to eliminate space with your workplace redesign. That’s because certain parts of your business may be growing very quickly and adding to the workforce faster than you can provide adequate space. That’s good news for your business. And it doesn’t mean you should skip over that property in your plans for workplace redesign.

Avoiding leasing or purchasing new space can save you just as much money as eliminating space in other parts of the business. When your business is growing and changing rapidly, you often find yourself having to pay top dollar for more space in the right location to meet an immediate need.

By implementing modern, agile workspaces in locations like this, you can accommodate more people in less space, and build in the flexibility needed to accommodate growing teams and changing business structures with short notice.

How much space do you expect to add in growing regions? How much could you save by accommodating that growth in your existing space with a workplace redesign? Also don’t forget to account for the operations costs you’ll forego when you don’t need that new space.

Step 3: Project TOP-LINE GROWTH

This may be the toughest part of building a business case for workplace redesign, but one you should not leave out, since it addresses the essential goals of your business.

Ultimately your company is looking to grow and be more competitive by increasing productivity and innovation. A well designed knowledge-based workplace clearly improves productivity levels, which can have a significant impact on the bottom line.

Here’s a recommendation from Peter Affleck, formerly head of real estate for Suncorp, a banking and insurance company that’s well ahead of the pack in implementing modern workplaces.

“Bank the space and operational costs as a first start, but then be bold and focus the conversation on the real value-add: the revenue side. Without even considering the extent to which a smart workplace redesign could ignite revenue growth, productivity improvement alone will significantly bulge enterprise profits. Even a very small 3% productivity improvement will expand profits per employee by ~$4,500 in most financial services companies, and significantly higher in the IT giants such as Google and Amazon. It becomes a no-brainer!”

That means quantifying the productivity impact of the modern workplace, using metrics like these:

OUTPUT: Each group within your company measures the efficiency and effectiveness of its team members according to their job functions.

ABSENTEEISM: How much work time are employees missing due to illness, family obligations, “mental health” days and the like? Those figures have a measurable impact on productivity.

ABILITY TO ATTRACT TALENT: This is the other half of the talent equation: how much time and money are you spending trying to recruit new talent, and what’s the impact on productivity when you can’t find people with the skills you need?

If you already have some modern work spaces in your portfolio, look at the differences in the above metrics for your modern vs. traditional workplaces. What differences are you seeing in levels of output, absenteeism, and recruitment efforts? Those numbers can help you project expected gains in productivity following your workplace redesign.

Learn more: How Do You Measure Knowledge Worker Productivity?

Download Best Practices for the Modern Workplace today.


Multiply Agile Working Benefits: Invest in the Employee Experience

Corporate real estate professionals understand agile working benefits: the company stands to cut property costs significantly by optimizing space and reducing footprint. At the same time, this workplace strategy can help to attract and retain talent, boost engagement and productivity, and even increase innovation within a company.

However, at first your employees and managers may not be fully convinced that the move is in their best interest. After all, you are taking away the private offices and desks that many have worked at for years. Even though they may complain about them, people may be emotionally attached to their workspaces and even feel a sense of ownership. That’s especially true of managers who feel they have earned their private offices and worry that their status within the company is being reduced.

That’s why, to achieve all of the touted agile working benefits, your workplace transformation must do more than simply reduce workpoints. One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make in moving to an agile working strategy is failing to reinvest in the workplace to improve the employee experience. When you are taking something away from employees, it’s essential that you give back workplace features that facilitate productivity, collaboration, and employee well-being.

Gaining agile working benefits: how much to invest?

Your business needs to decide what to reinvest back into the workplace and I would recommend 10% at a minimum. Remember the aim isn’t to just reduce costs, it’s to attract, retain and ENABLE the best people. That’s especially true for knowledge-worker driven businesses. It’s your people who will drive your next innovation and big revenue gains.

Moving to a flexible environment provides the agile working benefits mentioned above, and also helps you pay for your modern workplace along with investing in overall business requirements.

Here are some ways that companies are multiplying their agile working benefits by improving the employee experience.

5 ways to increase agile working benefits by investing in employee experience

1. Use technology to get neighborhood designs right

To get the agile working benefits you expect, each neighborhood fit-out needs to accommodate the needs of the teams that will be using it. That means you need to have a deep understanding of how each group works, what they need to accomplish, the types of spaces needed to do their work, and how many people are using which spaces each day. Asking people what they need is a great start, but doing that is not enough to provide the accurate, timely data you need to improve the employee experience in the workplace.

A better way is to invest in utilization tracking technology (such as IP networks) and a modern workplace management system. Various types of IP networks collect data about how and when your employees are using work spaces. A workplace management system designed for agile working aggregates the sensor data along with your occupancy information, and makes it useful for making workplace design decisions that make employees happier and more productive in the new space.

Here’s an example. Imagine being able to pull up a floor plan with a heatmap that shows you exactly how & when spaces are being utilized throughout the day, week or month? You might find that the phone booths people asked for are rarely used, but people are spending a lot of time gathering in the kitchen. You can then take back the under-used phone booths and convert to a team collaboration lounge.

Find out more about utilization tracking technology and how you can use it to maximize agile working benefits and improve your employee experience: Managing Workplace Utilization.


2. Consider investing in flexible furniture

I want to make one point clear: you can definitely move to an agile working strategy in an existing workspace without spending a lot of money on new furniture. However, investing in furniture that’s easily customizable for everyone’s health and safety needs can be helpful for improving employee experience.

When everyone has an assigned desk, they are able to adjust the space to meet their individual needs and preferences. For example, by setting computer monitors at a certain height and adjusting the chair to a comfortable position. When they no longer have an assigned seat, you need to give them the same ability to customize the furniture. The difference is, they will have to adjust it each time they move to a new workpoint. So, be sure to choose height-adjustable desks, monitor mounts and chairs that are quick and easy to adjust to gain the agile working benefits you’re looking for.

While you’re at it, it’s smart to get some flexible, breakout furniture for collaboration spaces as well. That way, the area can accommodate multiple uses as your business needs change (as they certainly will).

3. Personal storage is a must (for a while)

When people are asked to give up their desks, one of their biggest concerns is, what will I do with my stuff? When they are accustomed to relying on lots of paper files and being surrounded by their family photos and other personal items, doing away with that all at once can be a shock. And if you’re expecting this new environment to make people more productive and collaborative, you won’t get those agile working benefits by forcing too much change all at once. People need some personal storage space… for now.

Here’s a secret you don’t have to tell your employees just yet: they won’t always care so much about personal storage space. As your culture matures, people become less dependent on paper files, and they find other ways to express themselves in the workplace without desk clutter. For now, you must invest in locker space or even individual storage bins so people have easy access to some of the things they are used to having around. But rest assured, after a while those bins will never come out as people become comfortable with the new mobile way of working.

4. Add tools to help people find their way in the agile space

Besides wondering where they will keep their things after the move to agile working, the other issue employees worry about is how they will find a desk and how they will find the colleagues they are used to sitting with. Here’s my advice: you need to challenge their ingrained habits on one hand, while also making it easy for them to move around in the new space. It’s essential to make sure agile working benefits your employees as much as the company.

When I first implemented an agile working strategy, we didn’t yet have the advantage of modern desk booking and wayfinding systems. So I invented a manual way to track people’s locations: they used magnets on a white board to record where they were sitting. However, I saw that people still tended to sit in the same area with the same team members. One of our goals was getting different teams to mingle and collaborate more, which would not happen unless people felt comfortable moving around.

So every Friday we changed things up with a game that encouraged people to sit somewhere new, just to get them to feel more comfortable moving around. But that white board was always there to help them choose a desk or to find a colleague.

Today, of course, modern wayfinding technology makes that process much simpler: people can find a desk, a meeting space or a co-worker in seconds using a kiosk or a mobile app.

Watch this video to see how wayfinding tools work: VIDEO: How Can Wayfinding Technology Shape the Employee Experience?.

5. Implement employee health and well-being programs

Which agile working benefits are critical to you? Does your company want fully engaged employees that produce more, collaborate more, and create innovation that drives business success? Accomplishing that goal is not only about attracting and retaining top talent, but also improving their well-being in the workplace.

That’s why so many companies are implementing health and wellness programs that support and nurture employees so they are at their best. In addition to the agile working benefits, these programs also have the added benefit of reducing absenteeism and lowering healthcare expenses. According to CBRE, 91% of companies they surveyed expect to increase their workforce health and wellness programs.

Investing in workforce health is about much more than adding a gym and removing junk food. Read these related articles about how workplace impacts health and well-being:

Workforce Health: Is Your Workplace Helping or Hurting?
11 Active Design Ideas to Improve Wellbeing in the Workplace

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Desk Sharing: 4 Ways To Gain Leadership Buy In

In 2017, giving up assigned seating and moving toward to desk sharing is a workplace strategy that’s gaining ground worldwide. And for good reason: large corporations stand to save tens of millions in property costs (at the very least) by consolidating and maximizing utilization of office space. When implemented as part of a shift to a modern, mobile work environment, desk sharing strategies (also known as agile working) can also do much more:

  • Attract top talent in an increasingly competitive climate
  • Improve employee experience and engagement in the workplace
  • Boost knowledge worker productivity to grow profitability
  • Enable collaboration, seen as the key to driving the innovation companies need to be successful in the knowledge economy

As a CRE professional, you are probably becoming more aware of these benefits every time you read an industry publication or attend an event. However, convincing your business leaders to get on board with a move to desk sharing can be more challenging than you might imagine.

Here are 4 proven strategies to help you win leadership buy in and ensure a more effective outcome for your workplace transformation.

Desk sharing: 4 strategies for winning management buy in

1. Use cost savings to get the C-suite on board

When it comes to gaining leadership buy in for a new workplace strategies such as desk sharing and modern work spaces, it’s essential to recognize the differing perspectives of executives at various levels in the company. You’ll probably want to start with the C-suite and senior leadership, because top-level endorsement gets your plan approved, moving forward, and promoted throughout the organization.

For senior executives, one of their primary concerns is the financial impact on the company. So focus your pitch for implementing desk sharing on the cost benefits the company can expect to achieve.

The problem is, how can you develop an accurate business case for desk sharing without resorting to generalities? You need a source of truth that can produce concrete evidence to support your ideas, and show real cost savings projections.

When I implemented desk sharing strategies as part of what we termed “smart environments” at Suncorp, we collected a lot of data to provide that evidence. To begin with, you need to know how many people from each team are actually working in the building each day. You can do this manually, but it’s quite time consuming. A better way is to turn to technology: badge readers, lighting sensors, network sensors and Low Energy Bluetooth gather utilization data automatically. This technology enables you to see which groups are using which types of space and with what frequency. You also need a workplace management system that can aggregate data from multiple sources and make it useful for making decisions.

Learn more about this process from this blog: Activity Based Workplace Design: Why One Size Does Not Fit All

Also, learn more about utilization tracking technologies from this white paper: Managing Workplace Utilization.

Armed with that information, you can easily put together a picture of your current space utilization and how much money is being wasted. Next, develop workplace scenario plans that maximize use of space and allow you to reduce your footprint, significantly reducing spend year after year. Suncorp’s workplace transformation took utilization levels from 50% to 92%, and reduced property costs by millions each year.

Numbers like that will almost certainly convince senior management to approve your desk sharing initiative and promote it to the lower levels as a company mandate. However, a successful outcome for desk sharing also requires winning over managers at lower levels.


2. Managers respond to productivity and engagement benefits

Just getting your desk sharing plan approved is not enough to win acceptance throughout the company. As you well know, many a good plan has failed because of pushback and resistance from the ranks. That’s why it’s in your best interest to help lower level managers understand how this new way of working can work better for them.

Middle managers are responsible for the output of their teams. The way to get their attention is by showing how the modern workplace can improve employee engagement and drive increases in productivity. Time and again, research shows a correlation between availability of workplace options and increased output. Harvard Business Review reports that that 86% of the most highly engaged workers have choices as to how and where they work.


3. Get managers to lead by example

Once managers begin to buy into the desk sharing concept, your next step is to get them to become active role models for their employees. In the process, they experience the benefits first-hand; even those who were unsure initially become fans of the new workplace strategy. Some may even become active evangelists for your cause.

I worked with a manager like this. He was an insurance underwriter who had worked his way up through the company to become a manager of 60 people. He had a large prestigious office, and was mortified when told he would need to give that up and work in a desk sharing neighborhood with his employees as part of the company’s workplace transformation. He felt like he was being stripped of his status in the company. He understood that he needed to lead his team in the new way of working, but he was traumatized at first: he went from a huge office with years of accumulated belongings to one box.

For the first few days, he felt very distracted by all the conversations going on around him, and got little work accomplished. But then he began to participate in those conversations: offering advice and guidance to his employees that improved the outcome of their work. Over time, he grew to see the collaborative benefits of desk sharing and the agile workplace, and became one of the biggest advocates of the program. Today he says he would never go back to the secluded office!

4. Address HR policies for managing dispersed teams

Another challenge with desk sharing is the fact that many managers are used to judging performance by how many hours they see employees sitting at their desks. In an agile environment, they need to adjust their expectations and learn new ways of managing and evaluating the work of their teams.

One practice that may be new and challenging to managers is flexible working, or allowing employees to work at home or elsewhere outside the office. Embracing flexible working is not necessarily required to implement desk sharing. However, many companies are moving toward both at the same time, since the cost benefits can be greater and also help to attract talent.

Here’s some important advice: in the new way of working, don’t use working at home as a reward. It needs to be viewed as an accepted policy across the board. That being said, HR should establish guidelines; for example, each group can set planned days when people are allowed to work off site, with the expectation that if you’re needed in the office at any time, you will be there. Also, the privilege is contingent upon good performance at all times.

Putting formal HR policies into place around flexible working arrangements and desk sharing can go a long way to help managers who may not be experienced with dispersed teams in a mobile work environment.

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

In our next blog, we’ll discuss how to get even more benefits from an agile working environment by re-investing some of the cost savings back into the workplace. Don’t miss it!

Download Best Practices for the Modern Workplace today.


9 Steps to Implementing Change in the Workplace: Agile Spaces

Strategies for overcoming resistance to adopting agile working practices

In a business climate characterized by constant and accelerating change, dealing with employee resistance to those changes is troublesome at best, and costly in many cases. That’s certainly true when it comes to implementing change in the workplace, especially moving to shared workspaces and adopting agile working practices.

Companies save millions by implementing agile workplaces, and the move is also widely recognized as an effective strategy for attracting talent, improving employee experience and boosting productivity. That’s why Forbes has predicted an increasing demand for more flexible workspaces in 2017.

Download Now: Best Practices for the Modern Workplace Environment

Yet it’s unlikely that all employees will recognize the benefits of agile workspaces beforehand. Many will resist the change, which can result in lower productivity and loss of talent, potentially sabotaging the success of the project. That’s why the right change management program is so essential when implementing change in the workplace.

Implementing change in the workplace: a 12-week change management program

Here’s a proven change management strategy that helped Suncorp successfully implement agile working practices and environments across the company’s entire portfolio in Australia and New Zealand. The move has saved Suncorp millions by reducing property costs, taken the utilization of their portfolio from 50% to 92%, and provided employees with more flexibility, mobility, and a cultural shift toward collaboration.

1. Enlist champions

Research shows that there’s a social aspect to implementing change in the workplace that’s a major factor in employees resisting new initiatives. People worry about the social impacts of the change. For example: will giving up their desks mean they won’t be able to sit with their team members and friends? Will giving up their private office decrease their status within the company?

According to HBR, “the social aspect is what determines the presence or absence of resistance. Just as ignoring this fact is the sure way to trouble, so taking advantage of it can lead to positive results.”

Suncorp used office social networks to improve success with implementing change in the workplace. As their smart environments initiative was implemented floor-by-floor, space champions were recruited from each team that would be impacted by the upcoming move to shared, flexible workspace. Those champions worked as a team to develop a plan that worked for everyone, and they were able to explain the benefits of the change and ease the concerns of their team members.

2. Establish goals

At Suncorp, space champions worked alongside the property team to establish what success would look like for the project. That’s because different teams can adjust to implementing workplace changes at different rates. Here are examples of what the outcome goals might look like:

  • Everyone adheres to the clean desk policy
  • Everyone moves around within the agile space at least once per week

3. Anticipate obstacles

Once goals are established, the next step for implementing change in the workplace is to identify the potential obstacles that could fuel resistance and possibly derail the project. According to Forbes, “The best way to avoid resistance to change? Seek to uncover potential resistance prior to implementing change.”

That’s why Suncorp’s space champions were tasked with communicating the workplace needs of their teams, and bringing to the table any issues they could foresee. Having that information helped the project team work out a realistic plan to minimize resistance and proactively prevent problems.

4. Develop a plan

Implementing change in your organization is slow, incremental steps helps people to adjust and become comfortable in the new flexible environment a little at a time. That’s one reason Suncorp chose to implement agile working in their existing space. Some companies implement agile working for the first time when moving to new space. However, this practice can make it even more difficult for employees to adjust. A new space adds another big new factor into the equation and forces people into making the shift to a new way of working all at once.

Instead, Suncorp developed a plan for implementing change in the workplace that entailed small shifts over a 2-month period, with the specific changes determined by each project team.

5. Address technology issues

For agile working practices to work for the more mobile workforce, it’s essential that related technology issues are addressed when implementing change in the workplace. For example, will people use desktop workstations or laptops with docking stations? Telephones with login capability are usually needed to help employees move around with ease and still be contactable in an agile space. You may also need to step up IT processes and expectations: it may no longer be acceptable to take days to repair equipment problems in an agile environment.

Also, how will the property team determine the right seat ratios for each neighborhood? The best results come from implementing utilization tracking and workplace management technology to get the facts about how people are using space. You can learn more about that technology from this informative resource: Managing Workplace Utilization.

Also, read this topic to learn more about using data to design the right agile workspace for each business team: Activity-Based Workplace Design: Why One Size Does Not Fit All.

6. Address health and safety issues

When people will be sharing desks, you may need to purchase new furniture to accommodate everyone’s needs, such as height-adjustable desks and chairs, as well as adjustable monitor stands or mounts. Suncorp found that it was helpful to train employees in advance on appropriate etiquette for desk sharing to ensure a sanitary environment, such as not eating at their desk and leaving it clean for the next person’s use.

7. Implement changes week-by-week

With a plan for implementing workplace change agreed upon, that plan was communicated to those involved and implemented week by week. For example, these are some of the steps that might be needed:

Week 1: Clean out the office space to get rid of unnecessary items and paper.
Week 2: Establish central storage for files.
Week 3: Establish personal storage space, such as lockers or bins.
Week 4: Everyone swaps seats with a neighbor, so each person can figure out what they need at their desk to get work done.

By week 8, employees are ready to go live with the agile workplace, and the goals established in step 2 should be met.

8. Make policy changes and train management for agile working practices

Implementing change in the workplace can be especially difficult for middle managers, who may have little experience managing a dispersed team. It takes training to change their longstanding expectations of seeing team members at their desks all day. Managers need to be taught to evaluate team members based on the results they produce. Also, it’s important for them to model agile working practices themselves in order to empower their team to adopt the changes.

More on this issue to come in next week’s blog.

9. Provide post-implementation support

Even when you properly prepare employees in advance for implementing change in the workplace, don’t skimp on adequate post-implementation support. After a move to agile working, it takes a full 12 months for the new way of working to be fully embedded in the culture. Empower your space champions to solve problems that arise within their teams.

The property team should also be monitoring the use of agile space at all times, and jumping in to proactively address and issues that are popping up. Here’s an interesting thing that happens over time as the culture matures: everyone wants to work in the cool new space! That can lead to areas becoming overcrowded, lines for lifts, increased consumables and other problems. Using technology to monitor what’s happening can mitigate issues and keep the space working well for the business.

Outcome achieved by Suncorp

These are some of the impressive results Suncorp has achieved with implementing change in the workplace and providing agile working environments:

  • Productivity up 10%
  • 91% positive enablement response
  • 10% reduction in voluntary turnover
  • Expanded access to high quality, diverse talent (4x more applicants)
  • 89% would recommend the new workplace

Next week, we’ll address how to gain leadership buy-in for moving to agile working practices. Don’t miss it!

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