If your organisation isn’t even planning to transform its workstyle, it should start the process without delay, because if you don’t, you could be incurring costs way beyond what is necessary, and you may find that you are unable to attract the calibre of staff you will need to survive, let alone thrive, over the next couple of decades.
So, first, let’s just take a look at the cost implications. Offices in any part of the UK are an enormous overhead: up to £10,000 per seat in prime accommodation in the West End of London, and down to £4,000 for sub-prime accommodation in provincial office centres.
However, the average occupation rate for offices in the UK is 42.8%¹. Not great shareholder value. Yet ‘right-sizing’ office space can be a quick and tactical financial win when the groundwork is done properly. And that doesn’t mean a ‘consultant’ wandering around the office with a clipboard ticking a box when an employee happens to be sitting at a desk. It means undertaking a forensically controlled survey to provide incontrovertible hard and soft data from which to proceed. Typically, from such an exercise, space savings – and therefore, cost savings – of around 40% can be achieved.
While that can provide a quick tactical win that any CFO will appreciate, it should only ever be a part of a far more widespread strategic plan to protect the future of your organisation.For example, changes in technology have enabled organisations to become more agile, flexible and mobile but, in reality, few have yet taken anywhere near full advantage of this opportunity. And the more they delay, the more difficult it will be to catch up.
Moreover, the changing demographic coming into the workforce now, and over the next decade or so, considers flexible working and access to technology that enables people to work efficiently to be high on its list of expectations. Millennials and Gen Z’ers are likely to choose companies that offer flexible working over and above those that have yet to go down this route. But as well as helping to secure the workforce that the organisation needs to survive, flexible working can offer many more benefits going forward.
Digitising all information to ensure that employees can work ‘Martini’ style – anytime, anyplace, anywhere – not only makes them substantially more productive and increases overall security and resilience for any organisation, it can also contribute to the wellness of staff. Facilitating flexible working can cut down many hours of unnecessary (unproductive) and stressful travel.
One firm in the city offers employees – on a salary sacrifice basis – a ‘plug-and-play’ office that can be positioned by crane into their back garden. For a net contribution of £250 per month, it belongs to the employee after three years. Many city workers have a daily commute of two hours in, two hours out. If the Garden Cabin enables them to cut the commute, say, by three days per week so that they can work from home (or wherever), that could free up to 12 hours per week. If those hours were then to be split, say, 50/50 between the employee and the employer, the employer benefits from an additional six hours of productivity, and the employee gets an extra six hours back into their life – every week.
Put simply, I believe that flexible working has the potential to help change the way people live their lives.
And if you add remote collaboration to workstyle transformation, the benefits to both employer and employee just keep on mounting up. Remote collaboration can help to cut the costs of travel, subsistence and accommodation. It can also help the organisation become more sustainable and make a tangible contribution to employee wellness.
In summary, I believe that workstyle transformation can deliver cost savings, facilitate becoming an employer of choice, increase sustainability, contribute to employee wellness, and help to change the lives of employees for the better.
1Source: Johnson Controls, All in a day’s work: A Global Perspective of Workplace Trends”, March 2012