Restacking the workplace is one of the best options for companies looking to optimize their return to the office.
As we emerge from the pandemic, how we think about and use the office has changed dramatically and adjust workforce strategy accordingly. We know that the future of work (and our current reality) is hybrid. With employee behavior changes and new ways of working, including more hybrid options and continuing demands for social distancing, business leaders and facility managers (FMs) will need to rethink how they’re using their space if they want to offer better solutions to their employees.
Ideally, this ‘great rethink’ will lead to restacking the workplace. I.e. reconfiguring how workers use their physical office, with an eye towards improving both workflow and occupancy rate.
When done properly, this reconfiguration will improve space utilization. It should also improve productivity, connectivity, and workplace experience. All while also benefiting the bottom line.
When companies do restacking well, it can dramatically revamp an organization and lead to new and improved ways of working.
In this article, we explore how to restack the workplace in a smart way. We also review how this can lead to a complete workplace transformation.
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There’s nothing like a global pandemic to encourage careful planning and reanalysis of business goals, initiatives, and company culture, which impact and are impacted by the office space.
The pandemic has encouraged FMs and other workplace leaders to reassess their real estate portfolio. There is an eye towards providing safer collaborative spaces and conference rooms while also reducing square footage.
But even without a global pandemic, technological advancements leading to a digital transformation dramatically improved the digital workspace. And were already fueling a pivot to more hybrid work.
Coupled with an explosion of flexible working, many companies and their workers are now approaching the office space differently.
“The office is not always the default location where people need to go,” says OfficeSpace CEO David Cocchiara. ”It’s becoming more of a destination. Employees go to the office because there’s something they’re trying to accomplish. Whether that’s collaboration with another team or within their team, planning, reviews, brainstorming and similar activities.”
Restacking the workplace takes ideas about improving and adjusting the office and makes them tangible.
An office restack is about rearranging and reshaping physical space to better meet the needs of the organization and its workers. The goal is often downsizing space requirements (although it can also accommodate workplace expansions).
Restacking the workplace can look like reducing space, or completely reinventing it to allow for different work environment types, and to adapt to the hybrid workplace.
Finally, note that there are moving parts to this process. That’s why smart restacking starts with smart space planning, including regular headcount planning.
It also starts with good data that teams can use to gain insights and make better decisions around space optimization. As we’ll cover below, this is best and most easily accomplished using both stack planning and scenario planning software.
The purpose of restacking the office is to ensure teams get the space they need. This should be in as efficient a way as possible, while staying in line with company goals.
Restacking is often also about creating more flexible seating plans and designing them for long-term growth. But it can also be easily adjusted based on data.
When companies manage it properly, restacking is usually a better and cheaper alternative to relocating to a new office space. It can also be the key to introducing a new business strategy or any number of new workplace strategies. All of this can reinvigorate both the office and people who use it.
Ultimately, employee empowerment is no longer an amenity or a perk. It’s something that needs to be priority using careful planning if companies want to improve employee retention and attraction.
It’s when companies undertake restacking plans to not only upgrade space utilization but also make the workplace more productive and collaborative and better for employees that they’re really fueling a workplace transformation.
As more and more employees are embracing remote work or are on a hybrid work schedule, good restacking is what helps companies reduce their overall square feet. At the same time, it improves their return to the office with better office floor plans. This way, the office is more inline with workers’ needs and realities.
Restacking is particularly useful when moving and managing teams and departments across floors or even buildings. This is one of the many ways it can help improve enterprise facility management.
But at its heart, restacking a building or multiple buildings is the same as it is for small mom-and-pop businesses. The scale may be different, but the goal is still consolidation and optimization of the workplace. And the tools used to get there (which we’ll cover below) remain the same.
The benefits of restacking an office will vary depending on how well an organization is able to use data to fuel any desired reconfiguration. But assuming that a restack project is undertaken for the right reasons and supported with the right data, companies can expect a wide variety of benefits from their new environment.
Namely, the benefits of restacking an office include:
Ultimately, the goal when restacking the workplace is to better align the office with how employees are actually using it. This improves workflow along with employee well-being, allowing for more collaboration in the workplace.
And since we know from recent surveys that the majority of workers want to work in some sort of hybrid office, restacking the office to better accommodate flexible working may even help companies better ride out the Great Resignation.
The key to getting a restacking plan right is to pull data about your current space, and to couple that data with employee sentiment.
“It’s best to conduct employee surveys and focus groups regularly to check in with everyone in real time. Then adjust based on that feedback,” says workplace strategist Angie Earlywine, Senior Director in the Total Workplace division of Global Occupier Services at Cushman & Wakefield. “The antidote to figuring out how to reduce risk is in ensuring you’re aligned with employee sentiment and the company’s vision for supporting a hybrid work environment.”
Of course, collecting this information from employees is often best accomplished when FMs teams collaborate with HR teams. This is one of the many reasons why collaboration between FM, HR, and IT teams can help improve this process.
Beyond this, the simplest way to improve the existing office space is to use robust stack plans, which are really the key to any effective workforce transformation efforts.
“It’s best to conduct employee surveys and focus groups regularly to check in with everyone in real time. Then adjust based on that feedback,”Angie Earlywine
“It’s best to conduct employee surveys and focus groups regularly to check in with everyone in real time. Then adjust based on that feedback,”
Stack plans essentially help you optimize your floor plan so that it evolves with your needs. They are also what help you avoid or reduce the need for swing spaces or other interruptions to work, leading to much better project management.
That’s why stack plans are the best road map to restacking the office, because they provide a working and workable visual representation of your office and departments. They allow you to adjust and modify your office floor plan in real time, based on how employees are using the workplace.
Better still, when stack plans are part of an organization’s space management software, they can easily integrate real time data from the office with restack plans.
Ideally, depending on your software, stack plans will allow you to drag-and-drop groups of employees and departments, so you can quickly reorganize your portfolio before having to make any changes on the ground.
This gives you a high-level view of your entire workspace at a glance, while also helping you easily reconfigure teams and departments.
Reconfiguring new workplace strategies with stack plans can be further powered with scenario planning.
Specifically, when scenario reports are used in conjunction with stack planning, they can help you compare different versions of a proposed floor plan before making any changes.
These reports can also show you how any proposed changes will impact your space in the future.
Ultimately, assuming you are using software that can convert stack planning data into scenario planning, you can use both to better reconfigure your space.
The OfficeSpace ecosystem offers an end-to-end stack planning solution that completely integrates with scenario planning. Our drag-and-drop capabilities are incredibly fast and provide an intuitive user experience—think Tetris instead of tedious spreadsheets and Google docs.
By default, the stack planning grid shows how everything in your office is currently stacking up.
From there, you can easily move departments—represented as blocks—between floors and sites. These blocks give you a big-picture view, making it easy to see what types of configurations would be possible.
We believe that being able to easily visualize your occupancy across floors to see how your workplace is currently distributed is key to improving it.
Moreover, our stack plans can be seamlessly transferred to scenario planning tools, so that FMs and company planners can quickly and simply apply changes to draft copies of floors.
They can also create multiple scenarios for each stack plan, so you can see tangible floor plan proposals.
Finally, they can then implement any proposals in a few clicks using the Scenario Merge tool.
In short, OfficeSpace helps you reconfigure the workplace easily, from planning to implementation, also making it easy to share and delegate all steps in the process. This is how global cybersecurity leader Rapid7 relocated 600 employees in just two days.
By the time the move happened, the Scenario was entirely filled out so the merging process was simple and painless. Andrea Diieso, Rapid7’s Workplace Experience Manager
By the time the move happened, the Scenario was entirely filled out so the merging process was simple and painless.
Committed to maintaining an exceptional employee experience, Rapid7 needed a smooth transition when moving 600 employees to a new headquarters. They used OfficeSpace stacking and scenario solutions to implement, plan, and execute this move seamlessly.
“We used Scenarios to place employees in potential seats as we received the seating arrangements from department heads and team managers,” says Andrea Diieso, Rapid7’s Workplace Experience Manager. “It was really helpful to have a ‘rough draft’ to play around with.”
Restacking the workplace means using good data and purposeful planning to make it better for everyone who uses it. As such, it’s critical to addressing workforce needs as well as maintaining business continuity and improving employee experience.
There are many DIY ways to restack the office: using sticky notes, moving colored smarties around on a map, or fiddling with endless lists and Excel spreadsheets.
Or, you can use smart software to radically simplify the process.
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Photos: gilaxia, Sora Shimazaki, Chalirmpoj Pimpisarn, gradyreese