Creating a right-sized workplace is about meeting new challenges and being flexible to change the status quo, with a focus on having purposeful spaces and using square footage intentionally. If you’ve got meeting rooms lying empty and desks that haven’t been used since 2020, now is the time to do some facilities updates and right-size your workplace.
What is a right-sized workplace?
A right-sized workplace is one that’s been reorganized or revamped to meet the needs of an increasingly hybrid workforce. It takes an open mind to embrace these changes, especially when you’ve invested so much in real estate. Keeping an office design stagnant doesn’t serve employees well, since their expectations change and develop over time. Traditional workplace norms don’t look the same as they did five, ten, or fifteen years ago, and they will continue to change as new generations enter the workforce. A right-sized workplace is dynamic, and always adapting to meet the needs of its users.
Say before the pandemic, you had an office that took up an entire floor of a building. But now, two years later, only a third of your employees have expressed a desire to be back in the office for one or two days a week. That means you’re looking at a significant amount of wasted, unused square footage — and real estate spend that isn’t benefiting employees.
Right-sizing that workplace might look like giving up half the floor and implementing a hoteling desk policy for employees to be able to book a desk the day before they wish to come in. You might also add more collaborative workspaces and pepper some phone booths throughout, since people are largely coming back to the office to collaborate (but also want privacy for the occasional video call).
Right-sizing a workplace is an investment in and of itself. It takes a team of dedicated facilities managers and workplace strategists, and a lot of new technology to create a truly hybrid-friendly, inclusive office. And it pays off with happier employees, a more productive workplace, and an efficient work environment.
The Difference Between Downsizing and Rightsizing a Workplace
It can be helpful to know the difference between right-sizing vs. downsizing. Downsizing automatically means giving up some space. But while right-sizing can include reducing the physical size of an office, it doesn’t have to. It can even mean increasing office square footage. Some offices are finding success with right-sizing by simply overhauling the layout and usage of their existing space. Whether or not it makes sense to downsize an office space, redistribute square footage based on new employee needs, or just redesign it all depends on the behaviors and patterns of your employee base.
Benefits of a Right-Sized Workplace
A right-sized workplace is an efficient, inclusive, flexible workplace. Some of the benefits of right-sizing an office space include:
1. Lower carbon footprint. When HVAC systems run on preset schedules, lighting and internet is based on predicted use, and real estate sits unused due to an increasingly mobile workforce, companies contribute unnecessary emissions.
Why is lowering your carbon footprint important? In addition to environmental benefits and creating a more sustainable workplace, lowering your carbon footprint through right-sizing saves money, improves facility utilization rates, and increases employee engagement.
2. Happier, more engaged employees. They know they’re trusted to get their work done at home, but can also come into a well-designed office environment where they can collaborate in person with their teams.
3. Massively reduced real estate spend over time. If your workplace surveys have shown vast unused space, it may make sense to reduce the size of your office when right-sizing. And smaller spaces are baseline much more affordable, and incur lower heating, electric, and internet utility bills.
4. A more inclusive workplace. A workplace that suits the needs of fully remote, fully on-site, and hybrid employees — if a working parent has found it easier to work from home, why shouldn’t they be able to? And if a new college grad can’t get anything done with their roommates at home, they have an office that gives them the right headspace to get their work done.
Why are inclusivity and workplace equity important?
Solutions for Designing More Flexible, Right-Sized Workplaces
1. Survey Your Team
The first step of any major change to a workplace is finding out what’s currently working for your employees, and where and how they hope to work for the foreseeable future. Conduct an office space survey, then cross-reference results with workplace behavior data.
2. Use technology to audit your current office layout and usage
Sensor technology can help you corroborate your survey findings with usage data for individual desks, meeting rooms, conference rooms, individual executive offices, and whole sections of the office. With the data you get from a workplace analysis tool like VergeSense, you can create a plan to restructure, renovate, and revitalize your workspace to meet the needs of a hybrid model.
If you’re seeing that few staff members are coming in more than once a week, and that outdated massive board rooms are going completely unused (and you’re spending money heating or cooling those spaces!), you’ve got a clear path forward to make some changes.
3. Create different types of workspaces for varying work styles
Once you have executive buy-in to make some major changes to the office, make sure you’ve incorporated a balance of the following types of spaces:
Collaborative spaces, like cafe-style areas with lots of communal seating
Spaces to unwind and socialize, since teams are coming back to the office because they miss the connection of office work
Provide amenities based on objectives and employee needs, like meeting tech for hybrid teams
Since your space is now flexible and built to accommodate meetings that are in person, remote-only, and hybrid, the last piece of the puzzle is including best-in-class technology in every room and across your workplace tech stack. This will make hybrid meetings as smooth as possible and create an onsite work experience that’s seamless and enjoyable for your employees. It’s a more inclusive work environment that maintains a positive employee experience independent of work location.