With more than 70% of employees working from home at least two to three days a week, according to the 2022 EY Future Workplace Index, we expect an equally dramatic shift in how companies will manage their real estate portfolios. Making changes to the real estate portfolio to align with hybrid working may be critical to increased agility and to attracting and retaining talent.
Developing a high-performing corporate real estate portfolio that effectively supports a hybrid workplace while optimizing total cost includes three actions:
- Activate workplace and real estate technology that enables occupancy and utilization analysis, real-time decision-making and an improved hybrid workplace experience for employees.
- Explore agile options that reduce the total cost of occupancy, optimize capital expenditures and utilize effective portfolio strategies.
- Embed ESG programs to enable workplace and workforce resilience.
1. Double down on technology to understand actual use of space and predict workplace patterns
After an accelerated shift to remote work during the pandemic, workplace utilization is upside down. The 2022 EY Future Workplace index revealed that only about 30% of employees are working from the office five days a week.
Even prior to the pandemic, the idea some executives had that their people were all working from the office every day isn’t backed up by the data on actual use. Pre-2020 workplace utilization data on an average day shows office desks were in use only 47% of the time. ¹ This fact creates a dramatically different perspective on utilization rates and total occupancy costs per full-time employee or per workspace. Based on a traditional one-person-per-workspace seating model, many businesses were leaving valuable office space sitting empty.
The focus on data, however, extends beyond occupancy. Look for workplace management technology such as digital twins, integrated workplace management solutions and smart building solutions — to gather the real-time data that allows your working environments to flex to employee needs. If your real estate portfolio can be equally adaptable as your workplace programs are, the ability to reduce cost, improve retention and enhance productivity can grow exponentially.
You need to know who’s coming to the office, why, when and how they’re using the workplace when they get there. Corporate real estate and HR/Talent teams can work together to develop a full and nuanced picture of workforce and workplace data, drawing from both quantitative sources and listening to employees and leaders.
Key questions to consider include:
- Which technologies can you use to collect, analyze and visualize your real estate and workplace data?
- Do you have an occupancy strategy that can adapt quickly and withstand disruption?
- How are you improving your workplace experience to enable the changing workforce?
- How do the personas of your workforce affect your workplace design, planning and management?
- When people come into the office, what type of space will help them be the most productive?
- Which workspace components and spaces are being utilized most often by employees?