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  • Alexis Hultine

The Office Dilemma: Too Much Space, Too Little Use. What to Do?

You’ve probably discovered that your employees aren’t going to let go of their work-from-home flexibility. And, according to Nick Bloom, if you allow people to work from home two days a week, they value it at about an 8 percent pay increase. That’s a tremendous amount of money and a high-value benefit.


So here you are with a half-full office, a lease that’s coming up, looking around thinking, “we don’t need this space, and hybrid is here to stay.” Now what?


Here is how to consider options for your office space.


Gather data


My first advice is to gather data on how your people are working now. Collect qualitative and quantitative data points. A great place to start is a survey to your employees asking what they’re doing now and what they’d like in the future. Ask about which days they’re in the office and what types of workspaces they need.


In tandem with employee surveys, gather any data you can about actual behavior. For example, you may need to get creative and explore available data sources to determine when employees are coming into the office. If you have badge reader info, fantastic. Other sources could be calendars, Wi-Fi usage, or parking garage swipes. Knowledge of current usage and employee voice data will allow you to make strategic decisions.


Discuss your hybrid work model


How flexible are you willing to be to achieve real estate savings? I’ll narrow down your options to three hybrid models and discuss the pros and cons. However, there are plenty of nuances between even these options.


Fixed-Hybrid

A hybrid model where employees are required to work from the office on certain days and from home on others, as determined by the company. This often looks like Monday and Friday at home, and Tuesday through Thursday in the office. Fixed days establish clear in-person collaboration days across your organization. The downside? You’re paying for office space that isn’t used 40% of the time, and it’s unlikely you can reduce space.


Flex-Hybrid

A flexible hybrid model where employees have the option to choose between working from home or the office, based on their needs and preferences. The manager or department could also determine days in the office. This model enables you to optimize your real estate footprint. However, this could have a very high coordination cost if not implemented correctly. Do your teams frequently work across departments? They’ll find themselves frustrated and, in the office, only to be on calls half the day if you reduce the office space without investing in a process (and probably a tool) to coordinate in-person meetings.


Remote-Hybrid

A combination of remote work and office work, where employees usually work from home and come into the office for critical meetings, quarterly planning sessions, etc. This model offers the greatest potential for reducing your real estate costs. The conversation here becomes about how to reduce your office space and leverage flexible office space, i.e., WeWork or a comparable, for those moments to bring everyone together and for employees who prefer working in an office.


Making a move


You can save on real estate costs if you’re already operating or willing to move to flex-hybrid or remote-hybrid models. The roadmap looks different for everyone and could include implementing hoteling and coordination software, subscribing to flexible office space, or engaging a broker to find a new, smaller real estate footprint.


Struggling with all these decisions? Reach out for a conversation at alexis@digitalbydesign.work

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