How Data Saves You Money When Renewing an Office Lease

 
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Think back to the time when you last signed the lease for your office space. Whether it was two years or 10 years ago, your business isn't the same as it was then. Maybe it's grown; maybe you've downsized. Maybe you have more employees working from home due to COVID-19 and rapidly advancing technology, or maybe you've given up on the concept of an open office in favor of more independence.

Whatever it is, your business has evolved, and it will continue to do so. And because of that, renewing your office lease is not a move to take lightly. You should never make the decision without concrete data-driven information about the way your office space works for you and your employees.

Understanding Your Needs Post-COVID

No matter how your organization was doing business in February 2020, all of that most likely changed in March when the entire world found itself facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many companies, the focus switched from their bottom line to keeping operations running smoothly while also keeping employees safe and healthy. This included changes like:

  • Encouraging some or all of your employees to work from home
  • Increased sanitation efforts in the office, particularly in common areas, which may have led to changes in business hours
  • Putting distance between employees by switching from open offices to private desks
  • Adding barriers to open offices
  • Hoteling or allowing employees to come into the office on an as-needed basis

Unfortunately, the pandemic is still going strong and might be until there is a proven vaccine for the virus. That means your needs and those of your employees won't return to "normal" anytime soon. And some experts predict that this moment in time will change the way offices operate forever.

You'll also find that your employees have changed the way they use your office space — keeping their distance from their colleagues, using common spaces less often or collaborating in smaller groups. All of this is important to take into consideration before you renew your lease. Data gathered from sensors placed around your office can help you discover exactly what your employees want and need while dealing with the pandemic and beyond.

Redesign the Workplace to Support Organizational Priorities

While keeping your employees safe and healthy is and should be your top priority, you still have a business to run. Both tasks should weigh heavily when you make your decisions about lease renewal, but relying on abstract ideas doesn't always work and can be an expensive mistake. However, data on how your employees use desks, conference rooms, collaboration areas and private offices can lead you to an informed actionable decision that will impact your business for years to come. Data from 4SITE can help your organization:

  • Recreate your workspace to support your employees when they can't work from home: This may mean turning open workspace into cubicles or private offices or setting up small collaboration areas.
  • Create more collaboration spaces: If your company's culture thrives on employees working together rather than independently, it may be time to create an office that is made up mostly of collaboration rooms. You can then modify them to encourage social distancing and add technology that allows those who are in the office to communicate with those who are working from home.
  • Downsize your space: On the other hand, if many of your employees work in cubicles or private offices all day with little in-person interaction, would it be better for your bottom line to have them work from home?
  • Establish remote office space: You may find that some employees can work from home, while others can't, and some can only part of the time. Allowing employees to gather at a location that's closer to their homes to collaborate could increase productivity and job satisfaction.

Resize the Footprint

Making decisions about the future of your office space and whether you want to renew your lease or not should be about transforming your office as a whole rather than making incremental changes here and there. You must consider what you want for your corporate culture. Examine what makes your employees the most productive. What do you want their work experience to be like, and how important is collaboration to your organization? While you may have some general ideas, the information gathered by 4SITE can help you shape those ideas into the transformation your business needs to succeed in a post-COVID-19 world and beyond.

Changing Locations

Your data can even persuade you to make an actionable decision about the future location of your office. Perhaps you started in a big city because it fit your image and helped you attract a younger pool of talent to apply for jobs. But COVID-19 has driven some people away from cities and into the suburbs, according to Fortune. Fresh air and driving your own car are far more appealing than cramped city streets and public transportation during a pandemic. Even before the pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau released data showing that millennials were moving to the suburbs to raise families and find more affordable housing. If your workforce falls under this category, it may make sense for you to follow them to the suburbs too.

Office Time on the Decline

According to a 2020 survey from McKinsey & Company, working from home is the future for many businesses. Or, that's what office-space decision-makers currently expect. While 20% of employees currently work from home, that number is expected to grow to 27% in 2020. The survey also indicates that time spent working in main offices is expected to decline by 12%, with time spent working in satellite offices is expected to decline by 9%. According to CNN, companies like Facebook, Twitter, Shopify, Slack, Box and Groupe PSA plan to make working from home permanent, even when COVID-19 isn't an immediate threat.

Make the Right Decision

With so much to consider in this rapidly-changing climate, you need every bit of information you can gain before making a decision about lease renewal. Data from 4SITE is an affordable way to find unbiased, measurable information on how your employees interact with your office space. Use it as leverage when negotiating your current lease, or let it be the deciding factor in taking the final steps towards moving to a new and improved space that is the perfect fit for your company.

Sources:

1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html
2. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/getting-workplace-ready-for-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=359a81e7_6
3. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/covid19-coronavirus-change-office-work-homeworking-remote-design/
4. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/reimagining-the-office-and-work-life-after-covid-19#
5. https://fortune.com/2020/07/17/people-leaving-cities-coronavirus-data-population-millennials-marriage-families-housing-real-estate-suburbs/
6. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/29/millennials-are-fleeing-big-cities-for-the-suburbs.html
7. https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/22/tech/work-from-home-companies/index.html