5 steps to creating the workplace your people really want

Can you tell me the average annual cost of your desks and meeting rooms? How about accurate metrics that show how often they are used? 

You’re not alone. Just 34% of organisations track usage rates for meeting rooms and just 13% track no shows. While only 17% of business leaders in the UK say that their employees are able to access meeting rooms whenever they need them.

image of man at desk

Create a workplace your people really want.

Yet workplace, flexible working, agility, wellness and hot-desking are constantly being discussed. From the recent Facilities Show to my day-to-day conversations with colleagues and customers, everyone is talking about changes in the workplace, how we can work more effectively and whether anyone really needs a chill out area with bean bags.

The thing is, everyone’s talking about it, but very few are actually taking action – action that’s informed, based on fact and statistics rather than opinion or preference.

But there is another way to look at workplace. The people-first approach. Stop talking about it and start looking at what people need, how they work and how the space is currently being used. It may not be as exciting as installing a games room, but it’s definitely more effective.

You’ll be creating long term wellness for employees making your business more productive and profitable. Win win.

If you want to adopt a more people-centric approach to workplace design, here are five steps to help you build the workplace your people really want.

1 – Speak to your people

There’s a reason that so many people are talking about the workplace. Space is important to people. We spend a lot of hours at work and ultimately as humans we are inherently resistant to change.

To ensure any change in your workplace is going to be a success you first need to understand your people, the way they work and what is important to them. Then you need to bring them along for the ride.

You can do this through surveys, interviews, observations, studies and constant two-way communication.

This is your starting point, getting to know your space and how it works. Just like the people using it day-to-day do.

2 – Calculate the value of your space

Desk space is expensive – the average desk space in London costs £690 per month.

The average central London office space is around 93 square metres and the average desk space is 5 square metres, which works out at around 18 desks per office, which is just under £150,000 a year. But if you increase your desks to over 50, you’re looking at over £400,000.

Meeting space is even more expensive, with utilisation rates hovering around 40 to 50 percent mark, and on average 60 percent (based on utilisation data we’ve gathered from clients) of meetings being moved from their original time.

To effectively plan and work out the most effective workplace, you need to know what value your space has and the potential costs. This way you can back up all your plans with a robust business case and highlight key recommendations for the future.

3 – Understand how your spaces are used

Knowing whether a space is occupied or not is important, but it’s not the full picture. To create a workplace that empowers your people, you also need to understand:

  • Space utilisation rates – knowing when spaces are used and the availability of that space assists you in making decisions about the type, number and size of facilities needed
  • Resource usage – looking at the resources your people are using and the tasks they help to achieve, lets you plan which investments to make
  • How your people work together – understanding the way your people communicate allows you to identify the location, number, size and style of spaces needed
  • When work spaces are not used – tracking no shows indicates whether you need to look at different options such as the introduction of huddle spaces or the development of new processes like ad hoc booking systems

As well as the qualitative data such as the relationship between teams e.g. should HR, facilities and IT be close together? Do teams need dedicated space or a hot desk? Are your meeting rooms used for quick conversations, board meetings or phone calls?

What does this look like in your organisation and what’s going to be the requirement next year – are you expanding, downsizing or introducing new technology?

4 – Make a plan and execute

Once the research is done and you understand your people, process, technology and workplace, it’s time to make a plan.

First, take the data from your occupancy study and answer each of the following questions:

  • How many meeting rooms do we need?
  • What types of meeting rooms should we have?
  • What booking system should we install?
  • What other resource and tech requirements are there?
  • How will we measure and report on utilisation

Once you’ve mapped out your functional requirements, move onto the aesthetics. Create design mood boards for each of your rooms, including furniture styles and colours. Your people are going to be spending a lot of time in these rooms, so it’s important to create welcoming spaces that people want to use and get value out of.

Finally, it’s important to keep staff involved as you go. Asking them for feedback and inviting them to get involved will help them feel like they’re part of the process. It will also help you get more insights into what they want and design something that will be truly useful.

5 – Review your approach

Things don’t stand still for long these days. Workplaces of the future will need to be flexible and adaptable. As travel and remote work becomes the norm, workplaces will become a space to meet, network and foster a sense of community, while also being ready to adapt and change.

Once you’ve rolled out your changes you should introduce regular opportunities to review your workplace and look for improvements. These reviews should take into account key metrics like employee engagement, retention, cost savings and occupancy.

Ricoh recently worked with Fraikin – one of Europe’s largest commercial vehicle leasing providers – to help them throw off their legacy image and become a smart, modern, digitally-driven industry leader. Through a partnership with Ricoh Workplace Services, Fraikin has realised that goal and delivered one of its most important transformation projects in ten years.

If you‘d like to learn more about workspace and where to start with an occupancy study feel free to drop me a line on LinkedIn or check out our new guide Workspace Services.

David Willoughby

Digital Workplace Transformation Lead at Ricoh UK

Read all articles by David Willoughby