We at CBRE believe a workplace is a lever that can enable people to do their best work. When done well, a great workplace can inspire individual creativity and drive organizational performance. When done poorly, a workplace may impede productivity and breed resentment, or even mockery, among the people who use it.
We believe, having advised organizations around the world on their workplace strategies, that the best workplaces balance both “work” and “place.” These environments are deliberate in how technology, HR policies, facility services, and events function within a physical space to create great work experiences. Those experiences, in turn, have the power to create positive emotional connections to work and to the company that offers them, building allegiance to people, place, and organization—which we know to be the key to attracting and retaining great talent.
Attracting and retaining great talent is more important than ever before: 55% of corporate real estate executives who responded to CBRE’s 2017 Americas Occupier Survey said talent attraction and retention were among the main drivers of their organization’s approach to workplace strategy. While there is no single recipe to creating the perfect workplace, we’ve found that through adherence to core principles—engaging your people intelligently in the process, thinking holistically about the overall experience of work, providing new services and tools—you’ll be more likely to succeed in creating a workplace that drives competitive advantage. Here are the principles we believe are most critical in producing an exemplary workplace:
Articulate your vision about what should change and why. Be clear about your vision for change and how you think that change will benefit your business. This may involve supporting new ways of working or shifting the way work gets done in the organization.
Know your people and what they need to be effective. Fundamental to the idea of creating workplaces that attract people is understanding the people themselves. Go beyond generations and work to understand both the work patterns and life stages of your people so you can appropriately tailor solutions to their needs. For example, access to outdoor space, rest areas, and wellness facilities are of increasing importance, and employers are starting to take notice and address these amenities.
Meet your people’s basic needs exceptionally well. Great workplaces start with the foundational elements we all need to be productive at work: convenient access to a wide variety of spaces that enable different work patterns and preferences, seamless technology, support of well-being, and the ability to easily find information and access other people. This doesn’t mean addressing all wants and wishes of your people, but rather, researching what they need to be effective.
Make your office the central destination in a network of places where work gets done. Work can and will happen everywhere. Flexibility and choice are highly prized by employees. In fact, 45% of respondents to CBRE’s Americas Occupier Survey said flexible working was most important to their labor force. However, bringing people together is key to driving more collaborative cultures. We believe the two are not mutually exclusive. By making the office a highly functional, delightful place to get work done, employers can offer flexibility while ensuring that the office is a place people choose to be.
Focus on details and delight for a work-place that makes people feel valued. Research shows real economic benefit to caring for your employees, namely in the form of attraction and retention of top talent, amplified by increased loyalty, well-being, and engagement. Investing in turnkey, flexible opportunities translates to employees feeling that they are valued, and the work they do is important.
By addressing each of these, you will be more deliberate in aligning your workplace with your larger operational, HR, and financial priorities. Doing so will allow you to challenge your status quo, creating a more sustainable workplace and making your people happier and more productive.
Lenny Beaudoin oversees CBRE’s Global Workplace practice and jointly manages the business in the Americas. A recognized leader in the industry, he has worked on engagements across a wide range of markets and industries giving him an informed perspective on leading global trends. Known for challenging the status quo in pursuit of bold outcomes, his creative approach to finding and solving problems blends his love of data with his talent for facilitating unique client experiences.
Georgia Collins jointly manages CBRE’s Workplace practice in the Americas, with specific responsibility for the team’s service lines. An expert at helping people understand and link business objectives with real estate strategy, she thinks the office should play an integral role in building and maintaining organizational culture and so is focused not just on the physical place, but on the total experience of what it means to go to work.