Workplace strategy and empty office space
So, let’s talk about the space.
Once you know what the business is looking to achieve, you need to consider how can the space provided by the organisation truly support the aims of the business? In other words, what is the purpose of the office and where should it be located? Is it to provide a place for employees to work in an individual focussed environment, a place for teams to congregate and collaborate, a place to remind employees of the organisation they work for, a place to work for those who do not have suitable facilities at home, a place to access technical equipment, a place to greet clients or maybe a combination of all of these requirements plus any number of others. What workplace experience do you want to create? Make sure you truly understand the (probably new) purpose of the office before moving forward. This understanding will also help determine (amongst other things) how many days a week employees are likely / need to attend.
It is also important to understand the right workplace settings needed to support the new purpose of the office. For example, people collaborating and working on projects may no longer require a dedicated desk, but a creative, flexible project space.
Scaling the amount of space is always a challenge – you don’t want too much space or too little. Use the defined purpose of the office, to help you with the size calculations and carry out scenario planning, to determine the best answer. But always remember:
- Old space calculations won’t cut it in the hybrid workplace– start with ‘demand’ by understanding the way teams work. Each team will be different as they will have different tasks, different team members and different needs.
- Spaceless headcount growth strategies mean that conventional ways of accommodating headcount growth are toast. More headcounts do not necessarily mean more space.
- Demand volatility needs to be factored in and flexible supply solutions sought.
- Innovation in space occupancy is needed to smooth demand to avoid overcrowded Wednesdays and ‘dead’ Mondays and Fridays – see the AWA Hybrid Working Index data. There are always alternative workplace solutions to consider, such as co-working areas, space sharing with other organisations or maybe even having no space at all. Using assets well will need out of the box thinking. To create vibrant buzzy work environments and effective working, organisations need to consolidate their occupancy of space on a daily basis.
- Always consider implications for services/amenities.
- The desk is no longer king in calculating the space demand. Consider your maximum predicted occupancy using a ‘team centric’ evidence-based approach and ensure the space supports your purpose, probably with fewer desks and more alternative spaces, such as phone booths, hybrid meeting rooms, social and wellbeing space.
Learn more about how we reduced office space by 28% and helped create an award-winning workplace with the British Heart Foundation.