Strategic Elements of Post Pandemic Workplace Design: Bumpability

Sooner or later workers will return to the office. CoreNet Global’s own surveys as well as dozens of others all essentially reach a similar conclusion. The office will remain as a place for collaboration and teamwork. But how will it be designed?

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Using your Core Values to Lead and Shine

Guest post by Kathleen Cloud, M. Frank Higgins & Co., Inc., President

You have probably been in an organization, school or business that had their mission statement and core values posted on the wall somewhere. No attempt, however, was made to make these values part of the daily fabric of the group and share with customers.

Broadcasting your core values to all and using them to guide you can be a powerful tool for personal and business success. Businesses like Zappos, Whole Foods and Netflix have seen an enormous benefit in using their Core Values to steer their respective ships.(1) Company morale improves, and customers increase their trust in you when the core values are relevant.

Developing Your Core Values
So just how do you come up with a meaningful set of core values? What image do you want to convey? Get your leadership team together and brainstorm a list of characteristics of those you admire and respect. Copy these on a whiteboard for all to see.

When our team did this activity, we constructed the following:
Honesty and integrity, enthusiastic, energetic, tenacious, services the customer, understands the value of reputation, encourages teamwork, pride in work, ability to adapt, do whatever it takes, commitment to excellence, competitive drive, passionate

Next, narrow down and refine the list to come up with ones you believe as a team are “core” to your business success. The goal is for your list to consist of 3 to 7 key core values that really define who you are. We came up with a graphic that would be easy to see and use daily.(2) Regardless of the format, “define what your brand stands for, its core values and tone of voice, and then communicate consistently in those terms.” (3)

Living your Core Values

When you hire new employees, your core values should be present and discussed as part of the interview process. This lets your potential new hire know about your beliefs and their importance. It also can help you weed out those who do not exemplify what your company stands for. Make sure your employees know the significance of your core values. “Catch” someone exemplifying a core value and highlight it for all to see. When our project administrative team worked exceptionally well with our estimation team on a difficult submittal recently, we noted that teamwork was one of our core values that was clearly demonstrated. It can help improve the morale in the office all around. In the event you have to terminate an employee, these same core values can make that process a bit smoother, making it clear that there was an egregious break from what we value as a company.

Core & COVID
We reflected upon these values during the pandemic. By valuing safety, integrity, teamwork, education, service and passion, we were able to devise, communicate and execute proper protocols to get our employees back to work at the end of May. We renovated a new office with lots of natural light, putting in some higher clear glass wall panels and offices with glass doors, that made social distancing easy to achieve all the while still feeling part of the group. In addition, to bring some smiles and “clean” the air, we installed a special “grow” wall. Those with a love of gardening were thrilled to help in the planting of this beautiful area. Getting your employees involved is a real boost to morale.

In closing, do your core values need to be tweaked? Perhaps there is a better way to broadcast your message to your employees and customers. So shine up your business for all to see!

References:

1 Gino Wickman, Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business (Dallas, TX: BenBella Books Inc., 2011)
2


3 Simon Mainwaring, We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Renew Capitalism and Build a Better World


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Will companies require the COVID vaccine?

A new post on AXIOS poses what could be the next great debate surrounding the pandemic and the workplace. Will companies require the vaccine before employers can return to the office?

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Mace HQ First Building in the World to Achieve ‘Immune’ Building Standard™

Mace, the international consultancy and construction company, has obtained the first IMMUNE Building Standard™ (IMMUNE™) certification globally for its headquarters in London.

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The dispersed portfolio: Short-term reaction or long-term reality?

Guest blog by John Williams, Chief Marketing Officer, The Instant Group

In the UK and US markets, many corporate occupiers are now considering a permanent move to a more dispersed corporate real estate portfolio – or at least that is where a lot of market conjecture is heading. This (potential) model would include a central head office, complemented by satellite offices closer to where people live, framed by a more flexible working policy whereby the employee has a greater degree of choice in where and how they choose to work. Not only does this create a better work-life-balance, but this strategy often drives increased efficiencies across the portfolio, leading to long-term savings. It seems the logical conclusion to supporting internal clients around the requirement to “work nearer to home”, but the real value this approach could generate is also worthy of further exposition.

What are the cost savings?

At the most basic level, a dispersed portfolio can deliver substantial cost savings for the employer thanks to lower rental values in most secondary locations. Research conducted by The Instant Group indicates that for a hypothetical office of 60,000 sq ft catering to around 600 people in Central London, the annual saving by distributing half of the workforce to prospective suburban/secondary locations could be up to 23% per year in rental rates alone.

If the company wanted to implement an even more agile approach by incorporating flexible workspace across the portfolio, the cost saving is even greater, with a fully inclusive flexible workspace offering over a 28% discount on just the rental cost.

The chart below breaks down the costs of moving 50% of the workforce out of a central CBD office and into satellite offices. The all-inclusive rate provided by flexible workspace in this scenario is only 17% more expensive than the rates paid by a company in a central location. The significant savings are due to the reduction of CAPEX costs at the beginning and end of the lease, the agility the turnkey solutions offer, and eradicating the additional costs ahead of lease occupancy. In effect this approach flattens cost, preserves cash through the avoidance of capital investment and allows the requirement to flex upwards and downwards with headcount (something no one can really predict in this market).

Value Creation in disaggregated portfolio

*Data represents the annual cost for an office portfolio for 600 employees within London, at a figure of 1.2 people per desk.

To this point expanding the use of flexible workspace can drive further value through a portfolio – flex needs to be better considered as a real driver to managing headcount and an agile approach to strategy. The complexity of planning the use of large, legacy, leased space can result in it being under-utilised by up to 40 to 50% after only a few years of occupancy (Source: Leesman). A more flexible approach to procurement allows space to be “switched off” or expanded within a matter of weeks. This degree of agility preserves capital, which can be better invested in core business functions.

Choices, choices, choices

But cost is not always the driving factor and the benefits of offering employees greater choice in the way they choose to work gives a significant advantage when it comes to retaining and attracting top talent, with the barriers of location and accessibility broken down. We have already seen demand in the regions in the UK and the US for flex space increase – particularly within the smaller requirement brackets – driven by employees from large corporates voting with their feet and taking space independently. The recent pandemic has shown that the desire from employees to save time and money by being able to work closer to home is expected to become a significant driving factor going forward, with research starting to indicate that, without such flexibility, employers may struggle to recruit.

Equally, a dispersed portfolio with a core central office allows for a far wider catchment area for talent, something HR teams are focusing on. The benefits continue with shorter commutes providing carbon savings and, while the employee commute has so far stayed out of most companies’ Carbon Neutral commitments, it is not long before it is scrutinised.

To date, all these benefits have been hard to measure which is why basic cost often becomes the main quantifiable factor. But this is all set to change over the coming months as businesses are forced to take a serious look at the way they manage their corporate real estate strategy and identify the best approach for its people. The C-Suites of organisations around the world want visibility of these costs and the inherent value in alternative approaches to office occupancy – the sector is keen to provide answers and develop the tech and data to match this challenge. One thing is certain, businesses are going to have to work very hard to bring back the millions of homeworkers who left their offices behind in March 2020, and a dispersed portfolio is a strong contender for resolving this challenge.

About the author:

John Williams is a marketing and PR consultant with more than 15 years’ experience and particular knowledge of working within the property and financial services’ sectors. John advises a number of clients on marketing, digital marketing, social media and PR. John joined The Instant Group in 2015 to spearhead the marketing team and support the rapid growth of the business both on and offline.


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An Urban Exodus? 3 Reasons Why a Flock to the Suburbs is Not Happening

Guest Post by Alex Morales, Assoc. AIA, EDAC, LEED GA, Structural Steel Specialist, American Institute of Steel Construction

Recently, in the calamity of COVID, there has been much hype across the real estate, design, and construction industries with claims of an exodus back to the suburbs.

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The Future of Urban Business Districts

Guest post by Jeremy Zuker, Co-Founder, WhereiPark

Downtown. It’s a term that all of us immediately understand. It’s part of the lexicon, shorthand for everything that the centers of American cities represent. When we hear the word, we think of vibrant shopping districts, office towers, and trendy condos and lofts. And thanks to the pandemic, all of that may be changing. The new normal is anything but normal, and everything that we knew about cities a year ago is fundamentally different today – and will most likely never go back to the way it was prior to COVID-19.

Downtowns have always been in flux. They’ve been industrial centers, landing places for new immigrants, the flashpoint for gentrification, and the proving ground for new modes of public transportation. In the 1960s many US cities experienced declines as middle-class residents migrated to the suburbs; 50 years later, the children and grandchildren of those suburbanites moved into the downtown areas that their families had abandoned in search of their version of the American dream. But no matter the political or economic climate, downtown areas have always been centers of commerce. Until now. It’s not a stretch to say that urban business districts are collapsing. And while the downturn may have seemed like a short-term situation back in April and May, the reality is now setting in that we may be in for another major shift in the role of cities as commercial hubs.

The reason that cities are natural locations for commerce is density. Simply put, more people buy more goods and services. And downtown cores in cities provide the kind of numbers that allow merchants to thrive. Mix in the fact that fewer city dwellers own cars than their suburban counterparts, and the need for walkable retail destinations is obvious. It’s no accident that there seems to be a Starbucks on every corner of any city you visit.

And it’s not just the people who live downtown to drive the local economy: it’s the millions of Americans who work in downtown areas, even if they don’t live there. Locals might not line up at a deli to get lunch, but office workers are the lifeblood of an entire segment of the urban economy. It’s no accident that restaurant owners talk about their “daytime crowds” and their “evening crowds.” They are very different populations, but the end result is the same: they keep local businesses afloat.

The pandemic has changed all of this in a matter of months. Beginning in March, most American companies implemented emergency work-from-home programs to keep their employees safe. While this no doubt saved hundreds of thousands of lives, it gutted businesses that cater to people who commute to downtown areas. Today, if you walk down the street in any major city, you will see dozens of shuttered businesses, ranging from restaurants to office supply stores to barbershops. It’s simple economics: fewer people equals lower revenues. Unfortunately, most small businesses can’t weather this kind of sustained downturn. Even temporary measures — such as patio seating and expanded delivery services — aren’t enough to keep these businesses healthy.

To make matters worse, it’s not just remote working that’s affecting the viability of downtown business districts. Many urban dwellers choose to live in the city because it is convenient and close to where they work. Now that millions of Americans are working from home, there are fewer reasons to spend $2500 a month on a small studio apartment when it’s possible to rent an entire house just outside the city. As a result of this shift, New York is experiencing its highest vacancy rates in more than 14 years. Rents for San Francisco apartments – among the highest in the country – have plummeted by nearly 20 percent in 2020. Simply put, people are rethinking the need to live downtown if location is no longer a factor in their career paths.

With the loss of residents and commuters, urban businesses are closing at record rates. In fact, recent studies have shown that 61 percent of American restaurants might not survive 2020. That would have been unfathomable to consider even 10 months ago. If this were a temporary situation, cities might be able to figure out a way to keep them afloat until things return to normal. But it doesn’t look like things will return to normal, even when the pandemic ends. Major companies, including Shopify and Google, have announced plans to allow employees to work remotely even when a vaccine is discovered. Major tenants of downtown office towers are rethinking their real estate strategies and are downsizing their presence. Even companies that are keeping their offices are considering allowing people to only come in a few days a week. This does not bode well for businesses that support downtown workers.

It’s a pretty bleak picture, but it’s not time to give up hope just yet. That’s because cities are resilient. The death of urban areas has been predicted for more than a century, but cities remain vibrant centers of commerce and culture despite all of the naysayers’ predictions. Over the last decade, they have become the destination of choice for many professionals and young adults. What is needed now is a radical reimagining of what cities are, and what they can be.

Jeremy Zuker is the co-founder of WhereiPark, a technology company that enables multifamily residential and commercial property owners to discover new revenue sources through innovative solutions that leverage unused parking spaces.


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Pandemic? What Pandemic? Investors betting on office space in India

In India, the bet among investors is that offices will remain vibrant as the coronavirus has to date left them unscathed, according to The Print.

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Incentives still shaping corporate real estate deals: Former GM stamping plant in Indiana to become a global headquarters

Elanco Animal Health will build a new $100 million global headquarters in Indiana on the site of a former GM stamping plant, reinforcing that economic development incentives are still alive and well. 

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The Difference of a Decade

Guest Post by Anthony Hansen, Director of Marketing, Installation Specialists, Inc. (ISI)

If you think back to 2010, the iPhone had not yet outpaced Blackberry, broadband was still the primary method for internet connectivity, and cellphone data was extremely expensive. Instagram was founded that year and Amazon had 30,000 employees (today that number skirts around 1 million). These advances in technology, social connectivity, and procurement created fundamental shifts in the ways that furniture manufacturers and dealers designed and delivered commercial interiors. These changes also forced the evolution and rapid adoption of service expectations for installation companies everywhere.

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Navigating Healthcare Construction through COVID

Guest Post by Paul Nielsen, Operations Manager, Swinerton

COVID-19 has changed every aspect of our lives, from social distancing to teleworking, masking up to navigating toilet paper shortages. Healthcare facilities have had the added responsibility of balancing construction and renovation plans with unexpected, short-term fluctuations in patient needs while keeping an eye on long-term needs and juggling budgetary implications stemming from COVID’s impact.

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Hewlett Packard Enterprise To Move from California to Texas

Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which describes itself as “a global, edge-to-cloud Platform-as-a-Service company,” will move it’s corporate headquarters from  San Jose, CA to Houston, Texas. 

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