Confessions of a Recovering Landlord
You’ve heard a ton of talk, including on this podcast, about WFH, returning to work or a hybrid of the two. But before you use the great reset of 2020 as the excuse to pull the trigger on shedding some overhead costs (think office space), there are 8 things you might want to consider first.
OK, first things first, we are going back to the office, correct? For the most part, I think yes, the majority of people will go back. Will it look different? Yes, for sure. Some companies will go back in full, others will expand, others will do the hybrid thing and others will reduce or go totally remote.
The first thing to be considered before you pull the trigger would be – what do you want to be when you grow up? What are your long term goals and objectives for your company? We always start with this because it drives every other decision. So big picture – what do you envision for your company in the future, 3, 5 or 10 years? Will you be growing or shrinking, getting into new businesses, growing through acquisition or planning to be acquired? What customers are you targeting, where are they located and how do you plan to reach them? There will need to be a lot of communication among management, ownership, customers and even employees upfront to accomplish all this.
The second thing to consider would be the workforce plan. What’s the impact of the big picture plan on headcount? What’s the change to the numbers, where will those people be located, do they need an office, a cube, or just an internet connection? If they need an office or cube, where does it need to be and does it need to be dedicated to that person full-time or can it be shared? How many days a week will people come to the office? Companies will also need to take into account the collaboration space and meeting space. If they are potentially changing the way they use their office space, they need to rethink what the office is even for. There is a mind-shift that will be needed. That mind-shift changes the way the business is operated which then changes the way space is used. All that should be taken into account when determining what the office will look like and who needs what resources and accommodations.
The third item would be to generate a space program. This space plan allows you to translate the workforce plan into an office size plan. It shows you the approximate size of space needed in each location. This allows your tenant rep to determine what options are available and provide estimates of the cost.
The fourth item to consider would be lawyers and human resources. Make sure your plan can be properly and legally implemented. You may need to re-write employees handbooks and policies.
Item number five would be to create a plan for the employee experience. Now more than ever, employers want to make a strong case for why employees should come back to the office. Make their workforce want to come back to the office. This includes the office space itself, a clear hybrid plan for splitting time between home and office, amenities (in the space, the building and the area), and the safety of being in the office.
Number six is communication. More than every, stay in touch with employees, understand their thoughts, feelings, fears and goals.
Number seven is to make sure your technology infrastructure is set up for the coming changes.
Number eight is when to go and speak with your landlord….this is a really important point and there isn’t a single right answer, honestly. It really depends on what the plan is and how much time is left on the current lease.