Most companies that face the challenge of moving to a new office or rearranging their existing space focus mainly on the costs and conditions of the lease, the look of the office, the architectural project or the choice of fit-out and office equipment. Unfortunately, they often undertake these activities without involving their employees in the process, which makes them feel anxious about the unknown.
Karolina Manikowska, Workplace Research and Consulting Department Director
Considering that employee remuneration is the biggest expense companies incur (it accounts for 60–80% of operational costs), it is a risky venture to create a work environment without the knowledge and engagement of the users for whom it is designed. It is also worth noting that employees’ efficiency increases when they are involved in the process of arranging a new office space (G. Frątczak 2015).
Employees can be involved in co-creating the new space, firstly through a survey of the existing space. This kind of research can involve defining employees’ level of satisfaction with the current office or adjusting the existing space to their needs according to the type of work they do. This research is also beneficial for the project sponsor and the project team, since it helps them define, for example, the extent to which the office space is used.
More and more companies are adopting this kind of approach; as a result, we have surveyed over 3,800 employees so far. However, there are companies that decide not to involve employees in the process of creating a new office and, as a result, they face huge problems connected with keeping employees who are dissatisfied with their new office. Some of those employees may even decide to change jobs. This kind of situation can happen when a company focuses on one thing only – the PLACE – while the key to success is a comprehensive approach that also takes into account PROCESSES (e.g. business processes that will be carried out in the new office) and PEOPLE (their satisfaction and efficiency).
The best solution is to ensure the process of moving to a new office is comprehensive. Workplace Change Management takes place from the beginning to the end of the project. It can be done together with research or independently. Why is it worth considering this? Because when implementing any change, it is necessary to convince people to exchange things they know well for unfamiliar things they may fear. This sounds rather idealistic, doesn’t it? Isn’t it a waste of time and money? Why should we complicate matters? The hard realities of running a business are different, aren’t they? Definitely not!
Business reality has changed too. Here are the main trends that we observe in business today:
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the office space has evolved along with changes in business and social trends. The office is a peculiar catalyst of change in companies, which means that office arrangement can be successfully used to support change in an organisation (F. Duffy, 2005). However, it must be kept in mind that a change in office arrangement style (e.g. a change to an open space) or a change in work style (e.g. Activity Based Working, desk-sharing) requires separate, in-depth consideration.
As shown in the graph, change can evoke different attitudes in people, along with a palette of emotions, which affects their efficiency. In our dedicated Workplace Change Management projects, we concentrate on two basic aspects: participation and communication.
When carrying out the process, we undertake various activities that are tailored to our client’s character. They aim to:
Because of all this, it is worth considering Workplace Change Management. The truth is that no matter how well designed a new office is, the success of the project depends on employees’ acceptance of the new space. In research carried out by Management Today magazine (2003), 97% of respondents claimed that the look of their workplace is an indication of whether they are appreciated by their employer.
Moreover, an office space can increase employee satisfaction by 24%, their individual productivity by 5%, and their team efficiency by 11%. These are the real benefits for an enterprise, and the added value that can be achieved in the process of arranging a new workspace. Nigel Oseland, co-founder of Workplace Consulting Organisation, claims that “a 5% increase in employees’ productivity can cover the costs connected with office space maintenance.” The idea that “if we do not manage the change, it will manage us” can be motivating too.
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