Expanding? 7 Surprising Cities for Hiring Top Talent

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

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

7 cities to consider for hiring top talent

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

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

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

1. Denver, CO

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

2. Raleigh, NC

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

3. Portland, OR

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

4. Austin, TX

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

5. Nashville, TN

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

6. San Diego, CA

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

7. Pittsburgh, PA

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

Why these cities are ripe for economic growth & attracting talent

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

Create a modern workplace to attract and retain talent

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

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

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

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

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

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

Create an activity based working strategy. Learn how.


3 Workplace Strategies for Attracting Top Talent

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

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

Millennials and the challenge of attracting top talent

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

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

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

3 proven strategies for attracting top talent and keeping it

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

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


1. Develop a culture of empowerment

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

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

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

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

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

2. Create a destination workplace that enables collaboration

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

3. Address workforce health and wellbeing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download creating an activity based working strategy today.


How the Gig Economy is Impacting the Corporate Workplace

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

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

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

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

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

Download Now: Creating an Activity Based Working Strategy

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

The gig economy: why it’s gaining ground

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

Benefits of the gig economy for workers:

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

Benefits of the gig economy for corporations:

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

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

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

1. Retaining corporate culture and worker engagement

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

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

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

2. Supporting worker mobility

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

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

Learn more about wayfinding technology by watching this video.

3. Supporting the rapid pace of business change

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

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

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

4. Enabling collaboration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download a guide to managing workplace utilization today.


Scenario Planning Tools Simplify Workplace Optimization

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scenario planning the old (and inefficient) way

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

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

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

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

Scenario planning tools: the old way and the modern way

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

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

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

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

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

Modern scenario planning tools make you an agile planning team

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

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

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

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

Want to see how it works? Watch our video

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

Use email templates to set up comms like this

The icing on the cake

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

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


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

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

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

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



Creating an Activity Based Working Strategy

Strategic companies have transitioned to an activity based working environment in order to meet the needs of the evolving workforce and align with business goals. Those companies are feeling success with increasing productivity, lowering property costs, and talent attraction and retention. But, how did they create their strategy?

Here’s what you’ll learn from this guide:

  • What is an activity based workplace
  • How to address misconceptions about the modern workplace
  • The four steps required for successful transition  
  • How to measure success of an activity based workplace 

We’ll also reveal why culture is crucial to success and how to implement change during the transition to a new working environment.  


5 Ways to Get Management Buy In for Flexible Working Arrangements

This is a guest post written by corporate real estate expert Roland Chua. The opinions expressed in this article are Roland’s own and may not reflect those of his past or present employers.

Flexible working arrangements have traditionally been viewed as a special privilege for employees. Organisations often struggle to embrace this idea and integrate it into the management structure and culture.

More often than not, organisations will have some generalised policy on flexible working arrangements, with ambiguous wordings which basically allow managers to opt out of the option very easily. Statements like “we encourage flexibility in the workplace;” “we offer various work life balance options;” “we have an open and trusting workplace culture which encourages flexibility;” etc, all come to mind.

The typical policies on flexible working arrangements are never specific, and they always fail to list the actual rights that an employee has. And they always include a statement which puts the staff’s line manager in full control of the outcome.

In order for flexible working arrangements to be successful, the plan must have top-level endorsement.

Driving cultural change around flexible working arrangements

The leaders of the organisation must live and breathe flexibility. Their practice of flexible working arrangements must be highly visible, consistent, and regular. This will drive the culture of flexibility into the organisation and infiltrate into the mindsets of each individual.

Taking it one step further, flexible working arrangements must be well documented with very detailed and specific guidelines for all staff and managers to reference. Flexibility should be an expected way of working, not a right or a privilege. It is through flexibility that people will really feel trusted and appreciated. And in turn, they will give their very best performance due to an increase in satisfaction and morale. It is a proven phenomenon that human productivity increases consistently with higher levels of flexibility and job satisfaction.


5 strategies for encouraging top-down support for flexible working arrangements

So what are the essential steps to enable a top-down approach to flexible working arrangements?

1. Share success stories of peers and competitors

Present case studies of similar organisations that have successfully embedded flexible working arrangements into their culture, and achieved greater success.

Witnessing a peer organisation achieve results through specific measures and changes always sends a very powerful message to leaders. Forward-thinking organisations are constantly seeking for process and productivity improvements. Being able to look towards a peer or competitor is one of the most powerful ways to justify improvement initiatives.

Leaders will be empowered to consider innovative ways to move the organisation forward and continually remain relevant in an increasingly competitive landscape. By offering more attractive flexible working arrangements, organisations increase their ability to attract and retain top talent. This is key to the success of any organisation.

2. Quantify potential savings

Make sure you can quantify potential hard and soft savings. This is probably the most tricky but very important step. It is all about being able to quantify time savings due to productivity improvements, and what direct and indirect cost savings that equates to.

Work/life balance and employee satisfaction always has a direct and positive impact on productivity. When a person is more productive, he/she will produce a higher quality and quantity of outputs. This will in turn free up his/her time for additional tasks and responsibilities. As a result, the organisation can increase production and/or operations without any need for an increase in resources. It also means an organisation could improve on their existing offerings through a better engaged and higher performing workforce.


One method to estimate potential hard and soft savings from productivity improvements is by assessing the potential time savings per individual, and then referencing the standard hourly rates. The estimated cost savings can then be compared with the cost of hiring an additional resource.

Note that productivity improvements should not be mistaken for resource planning.

3. Highlight the benefits of flexibility for individuals

Even leaders have needs outside of work! Every individual, no matter what their level within an organisation, has basic needs within and beyond the workplace. Some of these basic needs include recognition, feeling appreciated, being in control, and being trusted and respected. And outside of work, everyone faces different life challenges.

Having a workplace that actually supports a person’s life challenges and embraces each individual’s unique and diverse life situation is vital to a person’s wellbeing and satisfaction.

The leaders of an organisation must understand and appreciate the fact that flexible working arrangements benefit them as much as every other employee.

4. Pilot flexible working arrangements and ABW

There’s nothing more convincing than actually doing it. A pilot is literally doing the real thing but in a limited and controlled environment, typically in a selected location and/or with one or more specific teams.

A truly successful pilot must be carried out as a full implementation, including all the components of a flexible workplace. For some companies, that can include implementing an Activity-Based Working (ABW) environment that eliminates assigned seating and provides different task-oriented spaces for working.

Related article: 10 Factors to Consider Before Implementing Activity Based Working

Implementing a pilot for flexible working and ABW would involve the following:

Technology: laptops/tablets, remote connectivity, mobile communication devices, intelligent printing devices, building population monitoring
Furniture: a full implementation will involve furniture changes to create formal and informal work settings
Management and staff training: to enable flexibility, the people component must be addressed, because users living and breathing flexible working arrangements determines the success of the program

Pilot programs for flexible working arrangements should run for a reasonable period of time, preferably two to three months. This will enable the new culture and way of working to be embedded into the mindsets of employees and managers, and allow for a true assessment of its feasibility and opportunity for success.

5. Report on pilot results

Throughout the pilot, conduct physical audits. Following the implementation period, conduct surveys and report on results to highlight benefits and learnings.

Physical audits involve auditors walking floors, observing and recording specific information on how well the flexible working arrangements and ABW environment are performing. Information such as formal workstation usage, collaboration area usage, average office attendance, is typically recorded. Physical surveys give a true snapshot of how well a working environment is performing, and gives very valuable metrics on areas of strength and areas of concern.

Post-implementation surveys are online questionnaires sent to every participant requesting feedback their experience with flexible working arrangements. The questionnaires must be very specific, with fixed multiple choice answers. This enables quick analysis of results and the ability to draw conclusions. Online tools such as Survey Monkey ( enable quick production of user defined surveys which can either be emailed to users, or set up on a kiosk where users can simply select answers while entering or leaving the office.

What’s essential for flexible working to work

With top-level management endorsement and a solid HR policy in place, flexible working arrangements can be fully embedded into an organisation’s heart and culture.

Flexible working should be an expectation. It is a total departure from the traditional schools of thought where flexibility is considered a privilege, and sometimes a taboo.

True flexibility in a workplace will always lead to higher levels of satisfaction, and in turn higher staff retention and increased productivity. The long term benefits include direct and indirect cost savings, and being able to attract the best talent to help maintain and further the success of the organisation.

Create an Activity Based Working Strategy. Download your copy today.


Wayfinding Apps Help Employees Work Smarter & Faster

Don’t you hate searching for things? Lost keys, sunglasses, that report you know was lying on your desk just a little while ago… Looking for something that should be easy to locate is not only incredibly frustrating, but it wastes a great deal of time in the workplace.

According to a McKinsey report, workers spend more than an hour and a half each day searching for information they need to do their jobs. Wayfinding apps help you take back some of that lost time while providing a better employee experience at the same time.

Wayfinding apps increase productivity

How much time do you think the average employee spends looking for co-workers in a large facility, or searching for a conference room or other space for a meeting? Now multiply that by tens of thousands of employees for a large corporation. The lost productivity figure can be staggering.

What if people could find co-workers and places in your corporate facilities in a few seconds, using a wayfinding app on their smartphone or tablet?

Just imagine the time that could be saved in each of these situations:

  • Finding a co-worker in an unfamiliar part of the building (a minute or less with wayfinding apps vs. 20 minutes of walking the floor)
  • Locating an open conference room for an impromptu team work session (a minute or less with wayfinding vs. half an hour searching the room booking calendar, then getting there and finding the room in use and having to start all over again!)
  • Finding a meeting room with the right technology such as video conferencing (a minute or less with wayfinding vs. 30 minutes searching a booked-solid calendar, then walking around to find that the room you want is open after all.
  • Navigating a different building or facility (find where you’re going in a minute with wayfinding apps on your phone or a kiosk, vs. time getting directions in advance or walking around lost on arrival!)

Having wayfinding apps for your employees is like having Google Maps just for your company’s workspaces. It makes it simple for everyone to find places and people throughout your facility.

Wayfinding tools enable agile working environments

Are you considering moving to a modern agile work environment, where assigned desks are replaced with task-oriented work spaces that workers choose each day?

These new types of workplaces can save millions in property costs while also promoting a collaborative culture within an organization. But they can create complications for employees if the right tools are not provided.

The last thing you want is for employees to have to waste time looking for the right workspace each day. Well-designed wayfinding apps allow workers to quickly find space based on the type of work they need to do, or to choose a space near people they need to work with. They might also choose to work in a particular area of the building due to comfort issues, such as proximity to amenities or a window. With the right tool, they can find the perfect space in seconds, right from their smartphone.

Implementing wayfinding apps can also be useful for reducing people’s anxiety about changing to a new style of working. Demonstrating these modern tools during the planning stages for a move to agile working is a way to increase comfort level, by showing how quick and easy it will be to find a space in the new environment.

Related article: What does the agile work environment look like?

Wayfinding apps: a secret weapon for CRE teams

Corporate real estate teams may have even more to gain from having modern wayfinding apps. These useful tools can provide the much-needed leverage to gain cooperation from business units about reporting their usage of space.

That’s because wayfinding apps are powered by data about your company’s space and up-to-the-minute data about how it’s being used. Property teams need the same data to handle space requests, manage moves, and work towards right-sizing the workplace to reduce real estate costs. However, getting business units to agree to provide or even validate data about their space usage can be a challenge.

Wayfinding apps can be an enticing carrot that motivates business units to comply with requests for data, since they gain a useful tool that uses the data they provide.

Features to look for in wayfinding apps

To get the most benefit from wayfinding apps, choose a reliable system with these essential features:

Ease of use. If it’s cumbersome or time-consuming to use, employees will be unhappy, putting your workplace transformation project at risk.

Multiple platforms. Don’t force people to use a wayfinding system that’s only available on their laptop. To be truly useful, wayfinding apps must be available on kiosks in convenient areas such as lobbies and elevator banks. Even better, give them access to the app on their mobile phones and tablets.

Powered by accurate data. Wayfinding apps are only as good as the data behind them. They must be powered by a workplace management system that tracks occupancy as well as near real-time utilization data from multiple sources such as badge readers, networks and sensor technology.

Learn more about the utilization tracking technology that powers wayfinding tools from this useful guide to Managing Workplace Utilization.


Workforce Health: Is Your Workplace Helping or Hurting?

Why are companies making workforce health a priority?

A decade ago, “workforce health” was not a term that was on the radar for most corporations. Today, that’s changing rapidly. The fact is, a company’s employees are its most important asset, and more and more companies are recognizing that it pays to invest in taking care of them.

Beyond the human benefits of supporting and nurturing people and workforce health, it just makes good business sense to do everything you can to keep employees healthy. That’s because studies show time and time again that happy, healthy employees are more productive and innovative in their job performance. On the other hand, the costs of employees with poor health can be significant. These numbers were reported by the World Green Building Council:

  • In the US, the cost of missing work due to illness approaches $2500 per employee each year.
  • In Australia, absenteeism due to poor health costs companies $7 billion each year, while lost productivity due to illness (sometimes termed “presenteeism” or not functioning at full capacity at work) is estimated as high as $26 billion.

For the majority of companies, staffing is by far the largest business operating expense. In fact, according to a report by the World Green Building Council, staffing accounts for as much as 90 percent of operating costs. Since staffing is such a big ticket item, even a modest gain in productivity can have a large financial payoff for a company.

Here’s another reason companies are increasingly investing in workforce health and well-being initiatives: these programs help attract and retain talent. In many industries and parts of the world, there’s a critical shortage of labor and companies need to do everything they can to attract top job candidates. Millennials in particular are drawn to companies that demonstrate an interest in and commitment to their overall well-being.

How the workplace affects workforce health

It’s no secret that buildings and work environments can have a huge impact on workforce health. Those impacts come from a wide range of sources, including both the physical environment as well as working conditions. Here are a few notable examples.


It’s well established that sitting for prolonged periods increases the risk for many chronic health problems. There’s been a lot of buzz in the media about the phrase “sitting is the new smoking,” a phrased coined by Mark Hamilton, a leading researcher on inactivity physiology, to describe the detrimental affects of too much sitting. According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting too much at work is just as harmful as couch-potato behavior at home.

Global health and care company BUPA studied the impact of sedentary activities on both employee attitudes and health, by having people wear pedometer devices that could measure the amount of time sitting, standing or walking. Employees reported feeling happier and were also healthier (shown by blood pressure levels and other measurements) when they spent less time sitting. One way to reduce sitting is to provide sit-stand workstations.


The stress of working in a noisy environment can cause employee dissatisfaction at a minimum and even aggravate mental health conditions. Separating quiet areas and group workspaces can increase productivity as well as improve attitudes and health.


Many factors about the layout of an office can impact workforce health and well-being. For example, the density of workers packed into an office space, the availability of (or lack of) space to collaborate with others, social space and break areas all affect people’s ability to concentrate and be productive.


There’s a reason why everyone wants the office space with a window! Good lighting, and especially daylight, enhances mood and improves productivity. Experts are also saying that the positive impact from proximity to windows is even further enhanced by exposure to nature—when those windows provide a view of green space.


Good indoor air quality (IAQ) in a workplace means providing well designed and maintained ventilation that ensures low levels of carbon dioxide and pollutants. There is a great body of evidence linking poor IAQ to illness, even systemic problems such as Sick Building Syndrome. However, according to research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, there is also evidence to suggest that improving IAQ can also lead to work performance and productivity gains in the range of 6 to 9 percent.

How modern workplaces can improve workforce health and productivity

With so many companies building modern workplaces featuring activity-based working environments, it’s the perfect opportunity to make changes to the workplace that can improve workforce health and well-being.

Encourage movement

Modern workplaces not only encourage collaboration, they also increase movement. Some companies, such as international property and infrastructure company Lendlease (a firm that has led the way in workforce health improvement and awareness), are providing alternative work spaces such as sit-to-stand desks and treadmill desks that cut down the time people spend sitting while doing office work. Lendlease estimates that their personal device initiative has reduced blood pressures by 20 percent, reduced waist measurements by 10 percent, and even increased sleep quality in their employees.

However, it’s important to think beyond the type of furniture to promote activity and workforce health. Emily Fielding of office furniture design firm Markant explains:

Encouraging movement throughout the day is about creating a dynamic working environment and educating employees on why this is important. When we sit for prolonged periods, our heart rate slows, inevitably slowing the rate at which we can provide required nutrients to our brain for optimal productivity.

To understand the brain’s need for activity, consider ‘three-thirty-itis’ (yes, it’s a thing). Our body’s energy at this time of the day is focused on digesting our lunch. We become tired, and immediately reach out for our afternoon coffee. What I find funny about this is that it’s not the coffee itself that wakes you up (in fact, caffeine restricts blood vessels in the brain and can decrease productivity), it’s really the action of standing and walking over to the office kitchen or local cafe. Think of sitting as a battery drainer and the movement as a generator; a couple of minutes of movement have effectively rebooted your brain and woken you up.

Here’s how open plan office spaces can encourage movement to improve workforce health:

  • Physically seeing your co-worker across the room can encourage you to walk over to talk instead of sending an email.
  • Centrally located bins, printers and copiers encourage getting up.
  • Allowing enough space around workstations helps people feel comfortable moving around.

Give staff control over their environment

An activity-based work environment allows employees to choose the type of workspace they will use each day, so they can choose a space that’s suited to the work they need to do. For example, they can choose a private, quiet space for tasks that require intense concentration, or an open and comfortable space for a team brainstorming session. This type of control improves well-being as well as increasing productivity and performance.

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

Offer healthier food options

According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employees spend an average of 8.9 hours working each day, and many spend a great deal more. Being trapped in an office where the only sustenance comes from coffee and vending machines can negatively impact workforce health. Lendlease studied the affect of healthy food options by replacing sweets with fresh fruit. Their employees reported feeling better about coming to work as well as improved mental health and anxiety levels.

Taking steps to improve workforce health, including making a move to an activity based work environment, is an investment that brings significant returns in the form of healthier bodies, minds, workplaces and even a healthier company culture. And ultimately, a healthier bottom line and long-term success for the company.

Technology enables the move to activity based working

If you’re considering moving to an activity based work environment, the first step in the planning process is to collect data about your current space utilization. Many companies don’t have a true picture of how much space sits empty every day, and that number can be 50 percent or more. Start with workplace management software that helps right-size office space and get occupancy levels under control.

Next, implement the right mix of sensors and other technology to track not just desks that aren’t assigned to anyone, but overall utilization of all your workspace. That data allows you to plan for the right ratios of seats-to-people and mix of space types in a non-assigned seating model.

Here are a couple of helpful resources to get you started:

5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software
Measuring Workplace Utilization


Case Study: Automation Helps Optimise Workplace Space Utilisation

Are you under the gun to improve workplace space utilisation and reduce your footprint? Just about every large organisation is facing this challenge today. If you are looking for solutions to this problem, you might be surprised to hear that you can learn a thing or two from the Australian government.

In 2009, the Australian government began reviewing its property footprint with the goal of saving money by reducing space. The result was a new process called PRODAC, which requires departments to report their space utilisation every year, and to work toward meeting progressively shrinking targets for vacancy and occupational density. They must also meet a yearly efficiency dividend by reducing operational costs.

If you think you’re under a lot of pressure to reduce your space utilisation, imagine being mandated by law to do so! That’s the burden on the Australian public sector. Let us tell you a story about one department, which we can’t name for security reasons, and how they have made significant strides in reducing the space they hold. At one point they reduced vacancy from 18% down to 10% in a short period, even with severe restrictions due to security and employee conditions.

How did they do it? By automating space utilisation management, and learning some important lessons about managing change along the way.

What can you do when you’re mandated to reduce space utilisation?

When the PRODAC regulations were announced, Australian public sector departments and agencies were suddenly faced with a huge burden: carrying out a time-consuming reporting process each year, and figuring out how to go about reducing their space utilisation.

One government department, who became a Serraview client, realized early on that this was their opportunity to explore automating their space management processes. Their property team consisted of a group of smart individuals who had seen what technology could accomplish, and they had a vision of how they could do better with space utilisation.

Challenges to automating space utilisation management

Now, as you’re probably aware, implementing new technology can pose challenges, even when everyone’s on board about the need for the change. However, the public sector face even more difficult hurdles to implementing new technology than most:

  • Strict security requirements. Any new software must treat data with the same level of security as the government does. Although the data being stored is classified at the lower end of the risk spectrum (as it doesn’t include any financial data, health data information about the public, or top secret classified data), it still requires stringent controls to be put in place to protect personal data about employees and their locations. Any new system would need to pass extensive, time-consuming security accreditation in line with the Australian Government Information Security Manual (ISM) published by the Department of Defence.
  • Enterprise Bargaining Agreements. Due to strict employment conditions negotiated for government employees, the property team had restrictions on their ability to transition people to best-practice workplaces, such as agile working. Any changes would have to be negotiated and implemented slowly.

The property team realized that getting security clearance to put detailed data into the system, as well as the IT support to implement advanced utilisation technologies like Serraview Live, was going to take some time. However, they knew they couldn’t wait that long to get started taking control of their space utilisation. So they devised an implementation plan in stages to help them reap the benefits as quickly as possible.

Implementing space utilisation technology in 3 stages

STAGE ONE: Taking control of business space allocation

When the property team first implemented Serraview’s space utilisation management technology, the only data they were allowed to put into the system was information about business units and their space assignments. So that’s where the team started. Serraview took care of importing all their floor plans, then they were able to overlay allocation data and easily view color-coded plans showing where teams were located.

While the team couldn’t yet track seat assignments and employee data at this stage, having those graphical floor plans helped the team to drive conversations with business units about space requests and even relocations. The ability to create scenario plans and show a group their new space went a long way toward easing people’s concerns about moving.

Related article: Property Teams: How to Drive Space Utilization Planning Conversations

STAGE TWO: Adding employee data

Additional security hurdles were cleared when Serraview achieved ISM certification, allowing the team to begin tracking employee data in the system. Now they were ready to get a better handle on occupancy and achieve their space utilisation targets. When business units submitted requests for additional space, having those graphical floor plans that showed exactly who sits where really changed the conversation. Groups could no longer “hide” space that they didn’t really need.

At this stage, the property team could actually see the pockets of available space and fill them when new requests came in, rather than having to increase footprint. They could also easily restack and consolidate available space, and reduce their footprint by subleasing that space out to another government department. That new strategy saved significant cost instead of waiting out a 10 year lease with under-utilised space.

STAGE THREE: Implementing utilisation tracking technology

Today, this government department is in the process of implementing utilisation tracking technologies, such as badge swipe/speed gate data, and moving toward collecting utilization data through their IP network using Serraview Live. With that system in place, utilisation information will be automatically maintained with no need for staff intervention.

Tracking utilisation tells you how and when space is actually being used, not just who it’s assigned to. As a starting point, the property team is finding the data useful as proof to gain approval for their strategic plans, and they continue to find more ways that data can help drive down space utilisation.

One idea in the planning stages is a move to an agile working environment, as opposed to the current assigned-seating model. One successful pilot has already been completed and a second is slated to begin later this year. These modern workspaces not only reduce footprint significantly, but also help attract top talent and even promote a culture of collaboration and innovation within an organisation.

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

What results can you expect from automating space utilisation planning?

Here’s what this Australian government department has achieved and some of the lessons they learned along the way:

Space utilisation targets achieved: twice!
It takes resiliency along with the right automated tools to reduce space utilisation and achieve the aggressive targets required from the Australian public sector. This particular team had to do it twice! They managed to reduce their vacancy rate from 18 percent down to 10 percent, and they were also able to meet their density target (at that time) of 16 square meters per person. Then in 2014, the government imposed significant staffing reductions, which shot their vacancy back up to 23 percent! At the same time their density target was reduced as well.

Talk about taking the wind out of your sails! It was back to the drawing board for the property team, but now they knew they had the tools and the skills to accomplish their goals. Within a year, they managed to get their vacancy back down, reduce their total real estate footprint by 25%, and are on target to meet the new density requirements.

Proactively managing change
This Australian government property team have learned more than they bargained for in the process of automating their space utilisation management. Not just about how to best use the new tools to reduce their footprint, but about managing change and how others react to that change.

The team found that the visual nature of their new system was a great help in changing people’s mindsets and reducing conflict. For example, previously their business units were focused on their own interests and not very concerned about impacts of change on other groups. As a result, it was difficult for them to accept a scenario that was best overall. That all changed when they were able to see visual move scenarios and the impact their “wants” would have on other groups. Seeing is believing!

The accommodation staff also benefited from being able to see both the current state of their space utilisation and the potential results of their strategic plans. It helped settle differences between team members about how to tackle space planning issues.

Furthermore, the data also allowed the property team to make excess space available to other government departments and agencies. Thus they could decrease their own space holding and apply the cost savings to their efficiency dividend, the annual reduction in operational expenses imposed on the Australian public sector.

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

What space utilisation challenges are you facing?

Today’s large organisations, whether public or private sector, are facing the need to reduce their space footprint. Organisations are waking up to the fact that as much as 50 percent or more of their space sits vacant each day due to increasingly mobile workforces, and those wasted costs can be reduced.

To do so, you need to improve space utilisation using the right automated tools. The trick is choosing the one that will bring the best and fastest results.

Here’s a helpful resource that can help jump-start your search for the right workplace management software: 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.


4 Steps to Easier PRODAC Compliance

What’s your least favorite month of the year? If you’re part of a property team for an Australian government agency or department, it’s probably September. That’s PRODAC reporting time.

How much time and expense could you save if you had an automated system that contained accurate data about all your workpoints, including actual occupancy information? And you could use that system to collect data and output your PRODAC report every year?

Did you know you can have that system today?

PRODAC reporting the old way

Everyone on your team probably dreads the last week of September, when you have to produce the time consuming and labor-intensive manual report about all your agency’s leased and owned workspace. You’d better get your trainers ready because you’ll be spending days walking the floors. And while you’re busy doing that, nothing else gets done. So once you’re finished with the exhaustive PRODAC process, you’ll have to work even longer hours to catch up on the pile of work you had to put off. Guess you won’t be seeing much of your family for a couple of weeks.

Related article: Fast-Track Corporate Space Planning: Technology Can Shorten Your Day

Here’s how the PRODAC process typically goes. First of all, you need to know exactly how many workpoints you have in your space. And then you need to figure out which ones are really being used.

Sounds simple in theory. After all, HR should have all that information, right? Not exactly. While they know who is employed, they may not know about contractors. And they certainly don’t know where all those people are. How many work off-site? How many spend most of their time traveling and don’t need office space? Are there part time workers sharing space? It’s unlikely that anyone can give you the answers to those questions.

As things stand now, the only way for you to count your workpoints, and determine which ones are occupied, is to walk around with a clipboard and physically count them. Presumably, that’s why the PRODAC process requires you to do a walk through. While time consuming, it’s easy enough to count workpoints, defined as “a desk, enclosed office or a counter where it would be reasonable to expect a person to carry out office work on an ongoing basis.”

On the other hand, figuring out which work points are actually occupied can be a challenge. The PRODAC regulations tell you to look for “signs of life” including name plates, papers or folders on desks, or even personal items that mean you can’t reallocate the space. But what if someone who’s off traveling, and likes to leave her desk neat? It may look like the space is not occupied. Or, what if a team is trying to hold onto vacant space, and someone goes around leaving coffee cups and files on unused desks? How will you be the wiser?

Once your team has done their best to count all those workpoints and figure out which ones are occupied, you have another tedious task to complete: the actual PRODAC report. Since you have captured all your data manually, now you need to compile and aggregate all that data into a single spreadsheet. That process can take just as long as walking the floors!

Especially for large departments, the expense of all that work is the most unfortunate part. You can probably think of many ways you could put that part of your budget to better use. How about applying it to strategic planning activities to identify ways right-size your portfolio and achieve your yearly efficiency dividend?

Related article: Property Team: How to Drive Space Planning Utilization Conversations

The good news is, there is a faster and easier way to complete your PRODAC reporting.

Here’s how it works.

STEP 1: Automate occupancy data gathering

The right workplace management software serves as a repository of accurate, trusted data about your work spaces, including floor plans showing allocations to different teams and exactly who sits where. You can be sure the data is accurate when your teams have the ability to update and validate their data monthly. You can also automatically capture accurate utilisation information from badge swipe data, network data, or other types of occupancy sensors.

Want to learn more about technologies for collecting utilisation data? Grab a copy of this free resource that explains the pros and cons of each: Measuring Workplace Utilization

Although the PRODAC regulations still require you to walk the floor to verify your occupancy data, that exercise is faster and easier when you only need to validate the information you already have in your automated system. Perhaps the day is not too far off when the regulations will allow you to use the data in your system and skip the manual audit altogether.

STEP 2: Access your floor plans to facilitate PRODAC auditing

How much easier is to do your walk-through when you can reference accurate floor plans showing all your workpoints (and who sits where) on a tablet, confirming occupancy data as you go?

STEP 3: Enter your audit data

Get ready to retire your trusty clipboard. With an automated system, you can use a tablet to enter data as you walk the floor.

STEP 4: Run the report

As of now, here’s the part where you save the most time and effort. With an automated system capturing your PRODAC audit information, you no longer need to compile all that data manually. Simply export your data into a report that’s already in the required PRODAC format. Couldn’t be easier!

Are you ready to move to a simpler process for PRODAC compliance? The good news is, you can have Serraview’s workplace management software up and running in a few months, so there’s still time to get everything in place before the next PRODAC reporting period. Get started by scheduling a demo now!

Download a guide to measuring workplace utilization.