A detailed look at what space rationalisation means, what drives it and how businesses can use the process to achieve greater operational flexibility, increase space efficiencies and obtain a higher return on investment.
Adaptability has always been a defining characteristic of successful businesses. The coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic tension have sparked a dramatic increase in the importance of flexibility across business models, operating models and workspace models. This, along with the global adoption of remote working, has prompted businesses to re-think the amount of workspace they really need; recent research from CBI and PwC shows that nearly 75% of city-based firms are reviewing their office space requirements.
Space rationalisation is the process businesses use to realign their workspace and operating models with their business model, supporting the achievement of business objectives and driving commercial success. It’s a process that results in greater operational flexibility, space efficiencies and return on investment. Workspace is one of the most powerful assets a company has, so it’s important that it’s optimised to perform at its best – something best achieved through space rationalisation.
Space rationalisation involves looking at your current office space requirements and aligning them with your overall corporate strategy. In addition to reviewing operating models, this process combines data regarding space use and occupant sentiment to identify existing inefficiencies in the way a space operates. The purpose of this process is to increase efficiencies with purpose-built environments in order to maximise productivity, creativity and profit.
Inefficient office space is a loss on investment and stifles occupant output, meaning a loss in potential profit. Updating or rationalising workspace to maximise efficiencies is the best way to ensure your asset yields the highest ROI possible.
Space rationalisation is an ongoing process and a core part of a business’s operating model. It’s important to continually monitor the performance of commercial assets in order to ensure the maximum return on productivity, innovation and investment. There are many reasons to consider starting a new space rationalisation programme, some of which include:
• Streamlining a complex or inefficient real estate portfolio
• Relocating your business
• Reconfiguring and redeploying capital
• Reducing fixed costs and overheads
• Inefficient space use
• Outdated workplace design
• Adopting new ways of working
The process is different for different companies, however there are seven stages most will experience: understanding your objectives, gathering data, identifying inefficiencies, planning for change, visualising your space, design and delivery, and monitoring performance. The data and insight gathered in the first half of this cycle informs the solutions implemented in the second half. By understanding your space use, occupation levels, ways of working and employee sentiment, it’s possible to identify inefficiencies and the corresponding solutions best suited to supporting your objectives and aspirations. There are many benefits to this process, but the main three are added operational flexibility, increased efficiencies and a higher return on investment.
Flexible workspace allows businesses to adapt to and successfully navigate change with the ability to transform their office space to best support their business. Flexibility measures can be built into new and existing space. The correct measures for your business will be highly individualised depending on your current and aspirational ways of working, and your business objectives. Examples of built-in flexibility include:
• Subletting a floor or portion of your workspace. Your company will be able to take up this space with future growth.
• Open plan workspace with modular furniture. These spaces are multi-purpose and can be configured to accommodate a wide range of activities.
• Taking more space to accommodate social distancing and future growth once occupancy levels return to normal.
• Adopting agile work practices and other behavioural changes like hot-desking can free up existing space and increase space efficiencies.
• Coworking space and other flex space memberships are great short-term solutions for businesses that need more workspace or added locations. This solution is particularly suited to accommodating rapid growth.
Improving space efficiencies
The first step towards improving space efficiencies is identifying inefficient space use. Generally, this is done by conducting a workplace study and analysing the resulting data. These types of studies involve monitoring space use over a period of time, as well as leading internal comms to understand the way your employees use your current space and would like to use it in the future.
By analysing your data, you’ll be able to identify any inefficiencies in your workspace. It’s not uncommon to realise completely new patterns in space use during this process: what may have felt like an over-crowded workspace or too few meeting rooms, could simply be improper space use. It’s important to involve a workplace specialist at the very start of your space rationalisation process in order to benefit from industry expertise. Your specialist will help you collect and interpret your data, but the following questions are a great place to start:
• Can you identify any unused space? What might it be better suited to?
• What percentage of your workforce want to work from home, the office or a combination of both?
• What percentage of desk space is used and at what time of day? Could you change your employee/desk ratio?
• How do you use meeting rooms? Are they fully-booked or operating at partial occupancy?
• Where do employees congregate? Are there sufficient breakout and amenity spaces?
• Is there enough private workspace for concentrated tasks?
• Is there enough private space for virtual meetings and calls?
Your workspace is your business’s most valuable asset, second only to your people, with the ability to support your operating model and drive business success. Inefficient workspace causes a loss in productivity and creativity, leading to a decrease in profitability as a result. Office space is a serious financial investment, so it’s important that it runs as efficiently as possible in order to maximise your returns.
The space rationalisation process delivers workspace that’s tailored to your people and their ways of working, supporting their ability to be the best at what they do and increasing productivity and innovation as a result. Optimal space use may reveal reduced space requirements for your business, allowing you to downsize and move to a new location or sublet the unused portion of your space. Both options achieve a higher ROI by either reducing overheads or supplementing them with added income.
In our latest video our team of specialists discuss how businesses can re-evaluate their commercial space to increase flexibility and space efficiencies with office space rationalisation.