Workplace Innovation: Your office space is not a cost – it’s a profit generator

Dorota Osiecka, Director, Workplace Innovation at Colliers International


Pick any corporate balance sheet and real estate will most probably be amongst top three expenditure items. Right next to personnel costs and –  in some cases – technology/business processes outlay. And many organizations perceive workplace related issues as just that – a cost generator, a liability much more than an asset you can use to drive your results. Whereas your office space – or broader – the workplace is actually a powerful tool, that can strongly influence bottom line. By harnessing this tool in a right way, businesses can positively influence employee engagement and motivation, the effectiveness of key processes and organizational culture overall. But workplace becomes a beneficial resource only when it is aligned with your company’s other key assets – your people, your processes and culture (aka “the way we do things and why we do them this way”) and key technology.

The world of workplace has changed vastly since the times when narrowly understood cost efficiency and control issues were the dominant criteria. The approach that led to creation of dilberty, inhumane cubicle farms is now luckily a thing of the past. Cost pressures are obviously still high on the agenda in a globalized economy, but the efficiency mantra no longer dictates key decisions. What workplace should be about is not how to minimize costs. The question is how to maximize profits by providing the right environment for our employees to thrive and succeed. Well-designed workplace enhances employee engagement and motivation, supports collaboration, stimulates serendipitous interactions and knowledge sharing as well as providing for basic needs of privacy, acoustic and material comfort and individual work requirements.

The secret to achieving a workplace that works? Move minds not furniture!

So it is not about sqm per head efficiency any more. But neither is it solely about having a new shiny space with a distinct WOW! factor. Well-designed offices that score high in terms of optimally supporting the business may often have fairly unassuming look. It’s the strategic thinking behind specific functional concepts, the right mix of individual and collaborative workspaces as well as rich variety of support spaces, matched with specific organizational needs and careful change management that does the trick.

The journey to an optimal workplace is actually an organizational culture transformation effort as much as a spatial change. Like with any other treatment, you cannot get far without a thorough diagnosis. The Workplace Innovation approach starts out with high level business objectives and key priorities. Once the strategic vision is formulated and refined, diagnostic and analytical part begins where current use of space, key workstyle profiles and organizational culture specifics are assessed. Different levels within the organization are engaged in the process to obtain most accurate picture possible. The results of workplace innovation process are then translated into a design brief for material space arrangement and change management plan for implementing the desired cultural shift. Office move or refurbishment is a fantastic opportunity to introduce organizational changes, improve ineffective processes and get rid of things that hinder us from reaching our full potential. However, whilst changing physical space and design of our workplace is relatively straightforward, changing organizational culture is a complex and multifaceted task that requires careful management to succeed.

Check out a short video on how Colliers International has transformed its workplace!

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