RELOCATION BRINGS CHANGE
Office relocations happen for a number of reasons. Company expansion can mean that more space is needed, new working practices may require a more adaptable workplace, and in some cases, a lease renewal or expiration can prompt a conversation about an office move.
Although relocating your office can be extremely challenging and stressful, it can also present a unique opportunity for you to consider exciting changes like new ways of working, refreshing a brand identity, or promoting a workplace culture more aligned for today’s global business. From changing your office’s interior design to implementing innovative ways of working, office relocations can be a great catalyst for giving your entire company a make-over, and not just an aesthetic one.
Regardless of the reason, an office move can have a huge positive impact on your business. When managed well it can improve morale, productivity, collaboration and can make it easier to retain and attract the very best talent.
With any office move, whether the move is to a different floor or to another city, one of the biggest concerns is that it could potentially interfere with your business operations if you fail to plan and organize every detail of the relocation. But despite how daunting an office move can be, it can also be an incredibly exciting and fun project to be involved with and can provide a fantastic new workplace for your employees.
OFFICE DESIGN—OFFICE OF THE FUTURE
Designers are taking the aesthetic functions of other types of spaces, from cafes and hotels to airport terminals and even the home, to create offices that reflect the growing desire for flexible working. Companies are offering people choice about where they work and how they work and that is going to be the main defining characteristic of the office of the future.
Offices are a key tell-tale sign when it comes to a company: you can tell whether they’re young and quirky, or more traditional. Outsiders to your business will learn a lot about your brand from your offices. Moving gives you the chance to update your look along with your brand.
The style, tone, and purpose of company branding often changes as a company develops, so once you move offices, you’ll have the ability to update your aesthetics in line with the message you want to portray about your company.
The building, the interior design, the location, and the style you choose are major factors in creating your brand’s tone and portraying the right message.
INNOVATIVE WAY OF WORKING
In just the last few years, work has evolved from the place you go to the thing you do. Most organizations—even progressive ones—are still transitioning to this new paradigm, however, and wrestling with the implications, not the least of which is rethinking company space.
The traditional open-plan office no longer meets the needs of modern workers. With more and more staff working from home or remotely—permanent, allocated workspaces are becoming a relic of the past. Instead, there is much more flexibility around how and when you use the spaces in the building.
You may find that new methodologies, such as HOTELING, HOT-DESKING, DESK SHARING, SWARM INTELLIGENCE, may prove difficult to implement in your current office building. But once you move, possibilities will open that will allow you to try out these new flexible collaborative workspace alternatives before the interior design is set in stone.
Including multiple collaborative spaces in your design is a great place to start. These spaces are ideal for sharing new ideas, facilitating group assignments, and simply providing some relief from an isolated office or cubicle. Having a work environment that provides options and different ways to work will keep things fresh while having a positive effect on employee productivity.
IS THE OFFICE DEAD?
An office relocation offers a blank space to work with, and you’ll be able to put your own name and style on it. Likewise, employees may expect a total refresh when they start working in a new building: it’s a great chance to start implementing new and innovative ways of working.
More space, a nicer office or a better location means it will be easier to improve your workforce. You may be nearer to large talent pools, or you may have the space to take on additional members of staff. Either way, office relocation opens new doors to improving your workforce.
A company that has recently moved to better, brighter offices is also likely to look more impressive in the eyes of prospective employees and clients alike. It’s a signal of success, determination and dynamism: you aren’t just standing still, letting the company fall into a routine.
These new activity-based workplace methodologies provide interesting workplace alternatives. To be successful, spaces need to balance the requirements of the dominant working styles of the business with possibly divergent preferences of individuals.
Designers and architects striving to meet our demands with increasingly innovative office spaces. So is the concept of the office dead? No. It’s simply evolving.
Hoteling environments are often used for large groups that have low in-office occupancy rates, for instance, consultants. The number of people a hoteling environment can support varies according to the occupancy rate, so it’s important to track space use. Companies who use formal hoteling environments often have either a person or software that tracks use and manages the reservation system. They also have a concierge who sets up a space for the person who has reserved it. Hoteling environments require a great deal of setup and support, but the space and cost savings generally outweigh the setup costs.
Hoteling is aligned with office management in which workers dynamically schedule their use of workspaces such as desks, cubicles, and offices. It is an alternative approach to the more traditional method of permanently assigned seating. Hoteling is reservation-based unassigned seating where employees reserve a workspace before they come to work in an office.
With hoteling, workers are not assigned their own desks. Instead, they reserve a desk for their temporary use for just the days they expect to work in the office. The benefits of hoteling over a more traditional, one-desk-per-employee scenario include saving costs on commercial real estate. For instance, if your employees are simply using their desks as “touchdown” spaces where they recover from and prepare for their next conference room meeting, perhaps that dedicated workstation is simply wasting space. The same goes for desks of employees that have the ability to work remotely from a home office. Companies that have moved to a hoteling structure have realized that a 1:1 desk to employee ratio can be inefficient and even costly.
It wasn’t too long ago that your workspace defined you in the hierarchy of your company’s organization. Top brass measured their worth in square feet. That, and the scenery out of their office window. Now, activity-based workplace environments have replaced corner-office dreams and aspirations with collaborative and creative interactivity.
A concept called "hot-desking" is rewriting the rules on how companies should landscape their work environments. With this alternate method of handling unassigned seating, a worker chooses a workspace upon arrival, rather than reserving it in advance.
By ditching desks and dividers, the hot-desking faithful make the entire office—and more—their workspace. This free-range approach, in which employees (and their laptops) shuffle between open tables, couches, and stations, encourages greater collaboration and innovation among co-workers.
A lot of major companies have jumped on the hot-desking bandwagon—where you can sit wherever you want—in search of greater efficiency and teamwork. But that is not to say that hot-desking is for all. For many businesses, it simply just won’t work.
Hot-desking is more suitable for workplaces with flexible schedules for employees, where not all employees are actually working in an office at the same time or on the same schedules. Consider hot-desking if the majority of your employees use existing offices only occasionally or for short periods of time, leaving offices vacant. By sharing such offices, you can have your employees make more efficient use of company space and resources. For some organizations that have a lot of staff on the road, such as sales reps or consultants, they’re used to not having their own desk, so they’re better able to adapt. But hot-desking is not for everyone. Some people find it difficult to adjust and acclimatize to different colleagues and different locations on a regular basis.
However, hot-desking does come with disadvantages—these include a lack of permanent space, an unclear work hierarchy, and possibly inconvenient communication between members of a team. An alternative version of hot-desking would be in a workplace where employees have multiple tasks and multiple employees may require a certain work station, but not for their entire duties. Thus a permanent work station can be made available to any worker as and when needed, with employees sharing the station as needed. This could be for a single element of one’s work, for example, when an employee needs an office for a client meeting but does not otherwise have need of a personal office.
The alternative work style a company implements depends on which one it thinks will align with corporate goals. Any of the alternative work styles can result in cost savings. On the other hand, if work/life balance is the goal, a company might want to ramp up its support of telework. Leading companies seem to be using a combination of approaches to accomplish their goals.
MOBILE TECHNOLOGY—HOSPITALITY HUB
The practice of hoteling or hot-desking has resulted from increased worker mobility, enabled by advances in mobile technology. Organizations whose workers travel frequently, or with growing remote or mobile workforces, are best suited to these collaborative workspace environments. A Washington Post article cites the rising use of hoteling and hot-desking as reflecting a shift from the office being a "home base" to being a "hospitality hub."
There are a variety of reasons for this burgeoning trend. Mobile technologies, affordable high-speed Internet access, and more secure, cost-effective virtual private networks have helped managers gain faith in something workers have long known—that there are times when you can be more productive someplace other than the office, or even the home office.
Today, workers work from multiple locations, including airports, coffee shops, and vendor or customer sites. Companies have always talked about being closer to the customer. With today’s technology, they can be sitting right next to a customer without sacrificing access to their own company’s data. The results are powerful. In an Economist Intelligence Unit study of 1,500 executives worldwide, “50 percent [of highly mobile respondents] said that mobility yielded improved customer satisfaction.”
Technology now lets us be more mobile, and the work we do has changed. In today’s digital world, workers rely less on being watched and more on being connected and getting the work done.
With the increasing presence of technology in the workplace, tools have been developed to make it easier to utilize hoteling, hot-desking and other alternative activity-based workplace methodologies in an office environment, to standardize the process, and to automatically enforce basic business rules or policies. Advanced mobility services such as voice routing and other messaging services to any location where the user can log in to their secure corporate network. Therefore, their telephone number, their email, and instant messaging can be routed to their location on the network and no longer to just their physical desk.
SOUNDS COOL, BUT WILL IT WORK FOR YOU?
So strictly from a business practice's financial standpoint, hoteling or hot-desking may be a good idea. A company that uses hoteling or hot-desking approach can complete more work in less space. However, the setup might not be for everyone or every industry. How do you know if these alternative workspace approaches are right for your company? Here are some things to consider:
Hoteling and hot-desking have its supporters and critics, but if you want to create an open environment for your employees, this could be a good office practice for you. If it doesn't work out, you can always take the cubicles out of storage and go back to the traditional office design.