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Optimising real estate to boost employee productivity


In today’s dynamic work environment, real estate and employee performance are intricately linked. Optimising the relation between these two key factors is one of the missions of the Global Corporate Solutions team at BNP Paribas Real Estate.

“Our aim is to make real estate a vector in employee and company performance so that they may fulfil their true potential”, explains Jonathan Steel, Head of Global Corporate Solutions. “At the very least, this means ensuring the health and safety standards are adhered to and that the environment supports the role of the employee while reflecting the brand and values of the organisation. Yet there is so much more real estate can do.”

Jonathan Steel
Global Head of Occupier Solutions
United Kingdom

Customised environments

One key strategy is to help companies create different environments within a single building to match different age profiles, team roles or activities. Departments such as Finance, IT or Legal are better suited to a desk-based environment or a floor with more cellular office space and quiet areas. Other teams, such as Communications, Media, PR or Marketing, work more efficiently with a more open, mobile and collaborative approach.

“For an international financial institute, we created a new environment for a group of young, dynamic programmers working on B2C apps”, says Jonathan Steel. While the bank’s Corporate and Wealth Management teams worked in busy desk-based areas with minimal décor, the programmers were housed in an open area with a stripped-out ceiling creating more air and an industrial feel, with hot desking, soft seating and colour-coded areas. The new environment was specially designed to promote idea, sharing, stimulate creativity and to retain the talent in the organisation.

Return on investment

The key idea behind these initiatives is to help companies maximise their investment in bricks and mortar. “Firms outsource to us because they want to be more efficient, focus on the core business activity, save costs and maximise their return on real estate”, explains Jonathan Steel.

The relationship between real estate and employees is a key factor in optimising real estate. The biggest costs for companies today are their buildings, their staff and technology – and, by impacting one, they necessarily impact the other.

A driving force in change

In many cases, companies need help to use their real estate as a lever to attract and retain talent. Many companies are focusing investments in a smaller number of facilities, but making them bigger, more dynamic, digitally enabled and interactive. The idea is to offer employees the freedom to work remotely while providing smart technology in the workplace to promote collaboration and idea sharing. “Given that the new sites are smaller, the challenge is to encourage employees to come into the office – but not all at the same time”, says Jonathan.

Sometimes, real estate can be a trigger for a change in company structure. “In the UK for example, a large financial institute was facing costly infrastructure upgrades in its London headquarters due to overcapacity”, explains Jonathan. The company reacted by adopting an agile work policy to relieve desk space and migrated its Retail Banking department to another key talent hub in the UK, a city with lower costs and a big catchment area for university students with finance and marketing expertise.

Today, companies can get more from their real estate, when using consulting or management services. Consultants such as Leesman bring empirical evidence about workplace efficiency to formulate a customised improvement strategy. “The aim for companies in the coming years is to sweat their real estate assets even more – while simultaneously helping employees to work more efficiently”, assures Jonathan Steel.

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