HUB International is a leading full-service global insurance broker and financial services firm providing risk management, insurance, employee benefits, retirement and wealth management products and services. HUB’s vast network of specialists brings clarity to a changing world with tailored solutions and unrelenting advocacy, so clients are ready for tomorrow.
Ranked 5th among the world’s largest insurance brokers, they operate with 16,000+ employees in 600+ offices (or Hubs) across North America.
Even before the pandemic sent everyone to work from home, HUB International had a real estate challenge: a portfolio that expands frequently, thanks to monthly acquisitions (which exceeded 70 in 2021 alone). They often inherit new office spaces with inefficient layouts and/or in geographic areas that overlap with existing HUB locations. This, plus a culture that has historically placed a high value on private offices, means that real estate cost savings have been a source of opportunity for the company.
When HUB International Chief Procurement and Real Estate Officer Jay Sklar would visit offices across the country, he’d regularly see inefficient space utilization.
“Whenever I would visit a portfolio, 30-50% of the private offices were dark,” he says. “Whatever the reason was, we had all this unused real estate—all these trophy cases, with lovely pictures on the wall, but nobody in the office. We knew we wanted a better solution in terms of how we were using our space.”
Jay knew they could dramatically cut real estate costs with a hybrid work model and less assigned seating. But with many employees spread across many offices, coupled with a more traditional company culture, he needed a way to keep workplace experience high and teams happy. The proposed solution had to be just the right fit for HUB—no easy task for such a widely distributed workforce.
Jay needed the right tools and approach to make hybrid a success at HUB. Cutting back on real estate spending couldn’t come at the expense of employee experience.
With OfficeSpace Software, Jay found a flexible solution that could not only work for their new corporate headquarters but also other HUB locations on a case-by-case basis. Instead of mandating offices to use OfficeSpace features, they started with a small rollout—what Jay calls a ‘coalition of the willing.’
“We knew if this worked the way we thought it would, it would take off,” he says.
Mandating an overnight switch to shared desks was not a viable option for a company as large as and entrepreneurial as HUB. Jay knew that demonstrating success in certain key locations would drum up interest and momentum throughout the organization. “We’re not going to force this on folks,” he told his team. “We’re going to present it as an option.”
This meant talking to each business unit in advance of a lease expiration or notice date. They’d ask a variety of questions to help figure out how OfficeSpace could help drive a smaller demand for square footage: How are you using the space? Who’s coming in, and for how long? Why are they coming in? Do you have any attrition concerns?
From there, they could decide whether desk booking would better suit their needs.
Meanwhile, the new corporate office presented the perfect opportunity for leadership to demonstrate their commitment to the rollout. They designed a space with more private offices than ever before, all of which are now open to a broader list of office-eligible staff. Employees quickly started using OfficeSpace to start reserving workspaces that make the most sense for them.
Despite any previous concerns about giving up personal offices, the shift in corporate headquarters has been viewed very positively. Staff love the ability to duck into the new private spaces for meetings and whiteboarding sessions, without having to take up a whole conference room or disturb their colleagues in an open office.
Jay reports that people are now using the OfficeSpace mobile app to power everything from helping facilitate connections between new staff members, to snagging a fancy sit-stand desk at headquarters when their schedule finds them downtown for the day.
Jay and his team are using OfficeSpace to reduce real estate costs in two main ways.
First, in their corporate office and other participating locations, they’ve opened up desks to office hoteling, a popular approach for hybrid offices that lets employees book into shared desks in advance.
Second, Jay and his team are now using desk booking reports and zip code plotting to maximize where they keep offices, especially when there’s a big cost differential between the downtown core versus the surrounding suburbs.
“The math is easy,” says Jay. “Depending on the market, we’re using OfficeSpace to intentionally get people into satellite spaces, while still giving them a comfortable and appropriate work environment. We’re not suggesting an abandonment of real estate— it’s more about further refinement and recalibration of our strategy.”
The biggest challenges of hybrid working often occur when schedules aren’t aligned. If workers don’t wind up in the same place at the same time, then teamwork, culture, and mentorship can all suffer.
But thanks to OfficeSpace, collaboration is still thriving at HUB. That’s because HUB employees are using OfficeSpace’s visual directory and the Who’s In feature to help them figure out when they should plan to come into the office. These tools help to ensure they’re always sitting with the right colleagues for the right projects.
Before HUB had workplace reports and analytics through OfficeSpace, many of their real estate portfolio management solutions were decided by anecdote.
Now, conversations around space always start with data. Jay has ready access to space utilization metrics on any given month or day of the week, on a site-by-site basis as well as across the entire corporate real estate portfolio.
“We are using the data from OfficeSpace’s reporting tool to drive our decision making,” says Jay, whose team now combines data from a variety of sources to find new opportunities for cost-saving and optimization.
HUB International’s success shows how easily large-scale organizations can reap the benefits of hybrid work—as long as they have the right data and tools, and test and iterate as they go.
Using OfficeSpace, HUB has cut back on real estate costs, without cutting back on options or experience for employees. In fact, many HUB employees now enjoy much greater autonomy, as they take advantage of their new-found ability to sit wherever it makes the most sense for their day.
HUB started with just 200 bookable seats in one office. But Jay was right: OfficeSpace use has rapidly accelerated, now being used in 61 offices (and counting) for over 2,000 bookable seats. The calculated rollout created enthusiasm within HUB like Jay anticipated, while also giving his team valuable insight into how to keep improving the office going forward.
Maximize your real estate budget with real-time access to critical metrics like cost per employee, occupancy, and operational costs. Gain unlimited insight into your entire portfolio and understand where space and budget is being wasted.
Give employees intuitive desk booking software that works on any device. Use any combination of flexible seating, creating tailor-made setups to help your people do their best work.
Help employees easily find where their coworkers are sitting, so they anticipate the best day to work in the office. Who’s In lets everyone quickly see who will be in the office, when they’ll be there, and where they’ll be sitting.
OfficeSpace Mobile App
Eliminate barriers and make connecting to the workplace easy with the mobile app. The mobile app helps everyone find, book, and connect with what they need, wherever they are. Push notifications further keep everyone in the loop, informing employees about any desk or room booking confirmations, changes, or cancellations.
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