As the CRE professional in your organization, what would happen if you walked into your CFO’s office and proposed an initiative with a one year ROI that could reduce occupancy costs by as much as 30%, substantially improve productivity, worker satisfaction and retention, and organizational agility?
My bet is they would want to hear more. You could tell them about the “perfect storm” that is occurring between: the technological advances of mobile devices, VOIP, and videoconferencing that enable workers to no longer rely on a cube or an office in a building; the economic challenges calling for the need to cut operational expenses; and the staff’s desire to access flexible work environments that promote team-oriented work styles and allow field personnel to be closer to clients/suppliers.
What is this magical idea? Alternative workplace strategies (AWS) which, are defined as “the dynamic alignment of an organization’s work patterns with the work environment to enable peak performance and reduce costs.”
While it is the logical transition for organizations who want to shed space and boost staff productivity, AWS is increasingly becoming the ‘new normal’ with the emergence of virtual companies that no longer rely on the water cooler to exchange gossip or the conference room to share ideas.
A study conducted by the International Facility Managers Association and the real estate services firm of Jones Lang LaSalle found that:
- 62% of companies use some form of AWS
- 42% utilize flexible work areas designed to support teaming
- 32% of companies with 1,000+ employees use telecommuting and expect the percentage to rise
- 65% found an improvement in morale associated with telecommuting – the greatest gains in employee productivity in utilizing “remote” offices
- 40% saw a decline in the SF/worker as a result of AWS and 20% reported a reduction in the total amount of space
The statistical and anecdotal evidence is fairly clear on AWS’ benefits of occupancy cost reduction and worker productivity making the open office plan, coffee shop, airport lounge, home office, client site and other public places viable alternatives to the traditional “four walls with a window” or the “Dilbert cube.”
If you’ve already implemented some of the principles of AWS, what strategies have you found to be the most successful? If you haven’t yet embraced AWS, what are you waiting for?
Go on, schedule the meeting with your CFO armed with the confidence that an AWS plan will reduce occupancy costs and boost worker productivity. It will be your chance to make a sunny day out of a perfect storm.