Director of Workplace Consulting at DeVono Property, Amanda Irwin, provides insight on the steps businesses need to take when going through their workplace planning by walking us through the strategic process undertaken with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) drives standards and empowers recruitment businesses to build better futures for their candidates and themselves.
With a workforce of circa 70 in Southwark, and a lease of approximately 10,000 sq. ft. expiring at the end of 2022, the organisation engaged DeVono’s workplace team to review their future space. It is paramount to them that the workplace supports both their people’s productivity and wellness; as well as being a destination to host its member events, in person and online.
Stakeholder Group: Having the right people onboard from the beginning of the project is essential. We usually recommend there is an executive sponsor, an internal project lead and representation from facilities, HR, IT, communications, and a support person to manage diaries and admin related to the project.
REC went above and beyond this requirement and in addition to the requested roles, included two representatives from the employee council, as well as bringing in the chair of the board for selected engagements.
Leadership and workforce surveys: Our online surveys are structured around our pillars of change pictured above, providing insight and data that we can compare between leaders and people, as well as contrast between different teams or locations, helping us to identify both alignment and gaps that need to be addressed.
REC opted to review their survey information and compare leadership view to that of all employees, as well as review working styles between each team, to get a deeper understanding of the variety of requirements within the business.
Stakeholder interviews: Holding 1:1 interviews helps contextualise the survey responses and drill down into different teams or critical requirements. It gives our consultants a connection to the business and its major players so we can construct more personal recommendations.
We spoke to a range of stakeholders, from facilities, IT, HR, head of all departments, some team members as well as the chair to get a wide range of feedback and understand unique concerns and ways of working.
Member journey workshop: Being a member organisation, it was important to understand how the REC’s members get the value out of the space, and what provisions are most useful when they visit the office. To build this journey, we engaged a range of stakeholders who interact with members on a regular basis. What we were able to distil was that the office should be a welcoming place for those who come for meetings, or a touchdown place for those who may not have an office in London.
By asking people to estimate the type of work they do, and where they are most productive doing that work – we can create a metric called ‘productive in-office days’, that will play a large role in a business’s hybrid working ratio. REC’s figure was a maximum of 2.5 days in the office, with an average of 1.5 days.
We then analysed the current weekly usage pattern, and were able to estimate the maximum capacity required to cater for their needs. For the REC, this worked out to a maximum average of 46%.
It’s important for businesses to consider both the amount of days people are planning on attending the office, as well as have an idea on what that pattern will look like.The majority of people are coming to the office between Tuesday and Thursday, a lesser amount on Monday and an even lesser amount on Friday. Because of this, unless a strict rota is put in place to ensure the space isn’t oversubscribed, the reduction in space won’t be as dramatic – likely only 20-30%. Fortunately, for REC, their new way of working lead them to a much larger opportunity to reduce their space.
Ensuring technology is both functioning at a high level and that people are kept up to speed on the current tech, are equally important.
The main issues identified for REC were either already known, with remedies in process; or were regarding meeting room hybrid hardware or booking. In order to raise satisfaction, a training programme was recommended – to help reshape behaviours regarding remote working and collaboration tools.
Additionally, proptech will play a much larger role in the hybrid office – for REC and many others, desk booking and space monitoring will become important in evaluating if the space is operating optimally. With more people coming together to meet, a user-friendly meeting room booking system is also a must-have. One that will both make it easy for the facilities team to manage use, but also for individuals to have visibility of room availability, so they get the most out of their days in the office.
In order to gauge where the similarities and differences were between leadership and employees, we ran two surveys. Whilst the existing culture differed slightly between the two groups, the aspired culture was the same.
Both groups expressed that higher independence and flexibility are desirable, which marries with the new way of working culture.
The desired change in culture that is demonstrated by our survey, often is representative of current issues or opportunities and doesn’t mean a whole cultural overhaul is necessary.
Through some simple pulse questions, we are able to define some key performance indicators when it comes to people.
REC boasts some of our highest satisfaction rates to date, and more importantly leadership didn’t overestimate, instead people indicated that they were even more satisfied than anticipated, and they had a high eNPS (employee Net Promoter Score) as well. We found that people would thrive when they have the confidence from their managers to perform their jobs in the best way that suits the individual. Cracking this will mean that hybrid working will be a huge success for REC.
To begin on the design brief for REC, we used our collected quantitative and qualitative data to calculate the following spaces:
Number of desks: hybrid working ratio and estimated maximum utilisation. Layout and environmental requirements were identified from the interviews and the survey.
Number of additional work settings: total headcount growth, minus the required number of desks gave us the requirement to facilitate days when there were all-hands events and they would likely need more seats than usual.
Meeting rooms: calculated through survey findings on totals and types of meetings, as well as from existing and anecdotal information.
Member lounge and entertainment: both from our project team and the member journey workshop, we were able to illustrate how the REC could offer comforts and amenities to visitors.
Wellness and social spaces: desire was expressed from the project team and survey regarding the importance of a multi-use wellness room. Furthermore, a social kitchen was deemed as highly important for the level of social interaction and connection at the REC.
Auxiliary spaces: IT and facilities were consulted to ensure the right amount of storage was accommodated.
Our in-house designers Dthree then brought this to life in a test-fit for one of their shortlisted properties.
By taking advantage of the opportunity given to them by hybrid working, and through choosing more efficient floorplates, REC has been able to reduce their space requirement by 50%. This equates to a high cost saving, but also allows them to acquire a new space that helps achieve their sustainability goals. They are driven by providing a comfortable and productive space for their people, and a flexible, welcoming place for their members to visit.
If you are looking for some support and guidance around your workplace strategy, get in touch with the team today to discuss your requirements.
Download our latest Occupier Q2 2022 below for insights into recent office market dynamics for central London, with a focus on workplace transformation and the new purpose of the office.