Office landlords are accustomed to competing with other properties in their submarket, but that competitive set is widening. Worker mobility and the growing acceptance of telework now allow many companies to move across town or even across the country without requiring their entire workforce to relocate with them. Today’s landlords often are vying for tenants against numerous properties in multiple markets.
Enterprising landlords are differentiating their properties by offering services focused on the workplace experience as amenities, particularly services that help tenants to enhance performance, reduce costs, or attract and retain employees. And one service – workplace optimization – can deliver on all those points.
A workplace survey and utilization study reveals unmet or underserved needs to be addressed in a workplace strategy. Here are the chief fields of information to expect from this valuable tool.
- Work patterns. What activities are employees doing in the space? What routes do they follow? Where do they spend time, and what do they do there? Differences in usage for similar activities can be telling. Is one conference room used more often than another? If so, why? Does one have better technology, acoustics, or lighting?
- Performance. How well does the space support key business activities? Here the tenant must differentiate between desired but unessential activities and those critical to completing the organization’s mission and meeting its responsibilities. A workplace strategy should focus on making sure the space effectively supports the most important activities first, and then incorporate desired but less-essential improvements as resources allow.
- A workplace dashboard. Using collected data, a workplace strategist can show how well the tenant is performing in four key areas: employee satisfaction, support for individual performance, support for group performance, and inspiring pride in the workplace. All four areas shed light on the company’s ability to attract and retain talent, and a strategy that improves these indicators will make the tenant more likely to remain in the space.
Working with an in-house workplace strategist or a third-party provider, the landlord can help each tenant monitor and evaluate its space use, identify inefficiencies and suggest changes to improve workflow, eliminate wasted effort and boost efficacy. What’s more, as a landlord develops a deeper understanding of tenant satisfaction and ongoing requirements, the owner can work as a partner to address deficiencies in the space before dissatisfaction escalates.
Establish a baseline
The framework required for a landlord to initiate a workplace strategy program is similar to the approach that individual companies take to measure and fine-tune their own offices.
The first step is measuring how effectively the space already functions. Rather than rely on gut instinct or vague impressions to gauge attributes such as tenant satisfaction and space usage, a workplace survey can provide numerical values that identify strengths as well as opportunities for improvement.
A workplace survey provides valuable insight into the ways people are interacting with their office space. More than a questionnaire, a thorough survey will collect data using motion detectors and other devices to map traffic patterns and activity. The goal is to produce a clear picture of current space usage. With that information, which serves as a baseline for evaluating future performance, the tenant can plan changes to increase effectiveness.
While the landlord is imbedding technology to help tenants monitor and understand how they are using their space, it is a good time to add technology that improves the experience of working in the property or eliminates common service problems. For example, running fiber alongside the main cable in an elevator can eliminate dropped calls. Insufficient conference space is a common complaint, so installing iPads or digital signup boards outside of conference rooms is a smart investment to reduce conflicting demands for those spaces. Proximity readers that sense identification cards can provide convenient access to parking garages and secure areas, or even whisk employees to their own floors automatically via smart elevator cabs.
With a better understanding of existing work patterns, the tenant can begin making adjustments to improve effectiveness and employee engagement. Look for positives as well as opportunities for improvement in the data, identifying strong scenarios that the tenant may want to replicate in other parts of the office.
Flexibility is foremost
Tenants increasingly value flexibility over cost, so space that can adapt to users’ ever-changing requirements will enjoy a distinct advantage over more rigidly administered properties. This is especially true for companies using workplace strategy to increase efficiency, as these firms may desire opportunities to reconfigure their space.
Landlords that provide flexibility will be rewarded with increased tenant retention. For example, with data about workplace utilization in hand, the landlord may observe that a tenant has more space than it needs, and could preemptively offer a move to a smaller or more appropriate space in exchange for a longer lease commitment.
And for marketing available space, a workplace strategy initiative can supply the leasing team with useful measurements of occupier satisfaction and performance to share with potential tenants, along with descriptions of the greater efficiencies tenants have achieved using the property’s strategic advisory services.