Why businesses need a clear road map for the workplace

5 min read

The workplace needs to change. But where to start?

The ongoing impact of both remote working and changing business requirements has stalled workplace projects across the globe. While some businesses have a clear idea of where they are heading, others don’t know where to start. We all know that change is needed - but what can be lacking is direction.

Still, many organisations have already found answers to some key workplace questions - on how space will be used, what features will encourage teams into the office and what experience employees and visitors need, to make using office space an imperative and desired part of their hybrid work pattern. But there’s still more to be done.

Mace’s head of Facilities Management (FM) Consultancy, Andrew Smart, explores why now is the time to take action on workplace strategies and the benefits that having a distinct road map could bring.

Realising the benefits

One of the clear, long-term benefits of having a strong workplace and facilities strategy is that it will support employee wellbeing, productivity and attract new talent. However, on top of this, there’s the savings to think about too. At Mace, we've found that companies with a clear line of sight on their workplace strategy can save up to as much as 30% on total occupancy costs. Industry research continues to show a clear preference for a hybrid mix of remote and in-office working, driving a significant shift in how space is allocated, and FM and workplace services utilised. This could lead to an opportunity for further savings on space utilisation and energy costs.

As more industries look to take an approach to the office previously only widely adopted by start-ups and the tech industry, decisive action is needed now. Not only to benefit current employees but to also stand out and attract talent in a quick moving market where options are abundant.

Lesser-known benefits support better planning; for asset management, maintenance and a clearer organisation structure of the FM team. Ensuring the right team is assembled not only guarantees that the best ideas, experience and innovations are shared within the business, but also that the cost of operating the spaces is being invested in the right way.

Why act now

The workplace continues to play a key role in the success of organisations – creating opportunities for collaboration, fostering company culture and aiding productivity. However, the way employees are using these spaces has changed.

Now, the workplace needs to take on the role of a social hub - a meeting space for colleagues to collaborate and catch up. Employees require a flexible, hybrid approach where businesses recognise a stronger need for a work/life balance and a workspace to facilitate focused and team work, and as industries open up again, employees are voting with their feet.

Businesses are also increasingly looking for the workplace experience to be balanced with operational efficiency – delivering savings and sustainability objectives along the way.

Having a clear line of sight is absolutely necessary for business leaders to be able to take the next step after years of stalling, and plan for the future of the workplace. Factor in the costs faced by businesses of operating spaces with lower occupancy figures for over two years and there is a need to reap back the value of the workplace.

We are relying more and more on data to lead our decision-making process, but what good is data without a clear objective, or a comprehensive strategy that accounts for the needs of both the business and the employees and other building users?

A road map for the future

The benefits are clear but with so much information and so many conversations taking place about the workplace, it can be difficult to really see where to begin - particularly when many businesses have been working in the same way for decades.

Businesses need to take a view of what their needs are and understand the gaps within their operations, whether through an audit process to identify areas for improvement or utilising external consultants, who are able take a step back and look at the bigger picture, identify trends, and isolating hindrances. We’ve seen great success at Mace in supporting some of our FM consultancy clients in these types of projects, working with international businesses to assess various aspects of their facilities strategy, including the FM maturity of the business and utilising our workplace toolkit to attract employees back into the office.

To move forward, businesses must have a clear road map of where they are going and how they intend to get there - otherwise we risk turning our buildings and workplaces into costly prototypes for new ways of working. For workplaces to truly thrive in this new world, a clear plan for the future is a necessity.