March 24, 2021

Property Rationalisation and the Right ‘Hybrid’ Work-from-Home Model

By David Webb, Director

David Webb looks at how companies can determine the right Work-from-Home model for their business and release savings through property rationalisation.

David Webb, Director

It’s high up the agenda in nearly every Boardroom – what does return to work look like?

The spectrum of strategies is well represented, from the ‘presenteeism’ of Goldman Sachs to the ‘WFH 4ever’ of Twitter.

For the majority of our clients, ‘hybrid’ solutions are all the talk. But as the promise of a lockdown lift approaches, some are doing more than offering flexibility to staff.

One example is a global brand with more than 300 sites worldwide. It is undergoing a fundamental rethink about its Estates portfolio. While it is reviewing business strategies and workforce planning, it is performing a fundamental rethink about the purpose of each of its properties.

HYBRID HOME WORKING ABOUT MORE THAN COST SAVINGS

Of course, there’s an obvious financial incentive here. The whole relationship between landlord and leaseholder has shifted and many of our clients are applying a much more sophisticated lens to the opportunity than shifting workforce patterns.

A different client articulated it well, “There are significant savings to be had in rationalising our real estate but the opportunity is greater than that. Productivity has held up and in some cases improved over lockdown. If we can get the right balance between working from home and using our buildings in a smarter way for collaboration, ideation and training – and afford our people a blended experience – then we can have the best of both worlds.”

IDEAL OPPORTUNITY FOR PROPERTY RATIONALISATION

Optimising is never simple though. Leases don’t end when you want them to. IT systems and security structures don’t always hold up. Management sometimes get frustrated tracking who’s at home and who isn’t and not everyone has ideal work from home set-ups.

But nearly every C-suite I talk to is sponsoring some form of initiative whether its basic lease negotiation or full-blown Target Operating Model transformation. Some of this will be aligned to smart repurposing of business continuity planning to be better prepared for any further pandemic. Some of it will be naked economic opportunism… and when office vacancies in the City of London are up 45% year on year, why wouldn’t you renegotiate?

ADVICE FOR STRATEGIC WORKFORCE PLANNING AND PROPERTY RATIONALISATION

Whatever your plans for optimising your workforce and rationalising property, I would advise having a conversation with someone who has executed on that change elsewhere.

The global brand I mentioned earlier used our ‘Ask the Community’ service (ATC). It gained insight on how best to position a review of its property portfolio. This included gaining buy-in with the various stakeholders.

Insights coming back from relevant members of our 800 strong community were fascinating. Little surprise that this service has surged 350% since the beginning of the pandemic.

ACCESS ‘ASK THE COMMUNITY’ (ATC)

We’ve been helping people navigate change for 17 years – most recently making the hindsight of our Change community, the foresight of our clients through ATC.

As we plot a path out of this chaotic pandemic to a different set-up for our workforce, it is worth considering. Access to ‘trusted’ counsel on how to optimise your work-from-home model and property portfolio could not be more important.

All of the change insights and expertise are readily available to you, quickly and independently. If you want to optimise your operation, you could worse than starting with the best practical advice.

David Webb, Director, Practicus

Find out more about Ask the Community or get in touch to access the advice:

01491 577122
change@practicus.com

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