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Change Management Models for Workplace Transformation

From Corporate Real Estate Journal Volume 6, Number 4

Colette Temmink

Chief Strategy and Product Officer | Co-Founder

Today’s corporate real estate professionals continue to face the ongoing opportunity, as well as challenge, of finding ways to lower real estate life-cycle costs while simultaneously enabling employee productivity. To achieve efficiencies, they remain focused on developing new ways to deliver a building’s hard and soft services, preferred supplier relationships, streamlined processes, proactive maintenance and smart building technologies. Enabling employee productivity, however, falls into its own category altogether.

Although leaders remain unclear on how exactly to measure the productivity of knowledge workers, many recognize the importance of employee engagement and its relationship towards realizing a company’s objectives.3 For example, the behavior of engaged employees can lead to a positive effect on employee performance, which can influence a company’s success.7 Similarly, Harter, Schmidt and Hayes8 completed a meta-analysis of data on 7,939 business units from 36 firms and found employee engagement is directly connected to the outcomes of a business. In addition, research by Aon Hewitt1 highlighted that a 5 per cent increase in employee engagement correlates to a revenue increase of 3 percent.

With US employee engagement at only 32 per cent, according to a 2016 Gallup poll, and 51 per cent of employees actively looking for a job or open industry positions,6 corporate real estate departments are now looking at how workspace can better engage employees. Employee engagement is providing an environment that enables employees to succeed.9 To improve employee engagement, corporate real estate professionals should provide better workplace environments by increasing the experience level.
So, where and how should companies start? By creating a compelling employee experience in the workplace. This can be done in a number of ways and all depends on the makeup of a company’s employees and what they want and need. According to Fry,4 millennials are the fastest-growing demographic and have become the largest share of the American population. This quickly growing group is increasingly drawn to organizations that create workplaces that reflect their values. In fact, according to workplace futurist Jim Ware, 45 per cent of millennials are focused on their work environment over their compensation.3 By conducting focus groups and surveys, a company can find out what employees want and what their values are. They can then pinpoint priorities to ultimately improve employee engagement. The key is ‘listening’ to employees and then taking action.

The good news is there are several real estate initiatives that can improve the employee experience. These initiatives include redesigning the workplace to be more collaborative, providing more technology options to promote flexibility, delivering hospitality level of service, offering wellness/ concierge services to improve employees’ overall well-being … or all of the above. Redesigning the physical workspace is a common approach companies take when trying to improve employee engagement. Many companies recognize that the work environment represents a key differentiator in the ongoing competition for talent. Huddle rooms, open work plans, high-tech conference rooms and hoteling are all good examples of adapting the workspace to meet employees’ needs and increase collaboration.

As CREs look to third-party facilities partners for help in improving the employee experience, this ask is driving a shift in the scope of facility services, broadening them from straightforward building management services to including occupant services as well, such as wellness and concierge services.

While LEED Certification set the benchmark for developing environmentally friendly buildings, more companies are now directing their efforts toward the human side of sustainability. The relatively new WELL Building Standard is an example of a rating system that focuses on the health and well-being of occupants.

Concierge programs may not be new to the commercial real estate industry, but these innovative and cost-effective occupant services are being delivered in new forms and go a long way toward employee engagement, attraction and retention as well. In fact, according to Lima,10 over 90 per cent of employees using these programs indicated they helped decrease their stress and helped balance their personal and work responsibilities. With employees spending much of their lives at their workplace, concierge services provide these employees with access to services that make their lives much more manageable and enjoyable. Whether they need help with dry cleaning, pet care, scheduling travel or even spa appointments, concierge services provide the overall work experience high-performing employees are seeking in organizations. But these concierge services need to be accessible and relevant in today’s world. Smart companies are developing concierge service apps so that their employees can access simple solutions with the touch of a fingertip.

As corporate real estate continues to evolve, facilities partners are increasingly being asked to work smarter and to do more with less. Although still in their infancy, workplace wellness and work/life balance services are not only a smart way to provide long-term benefits to employees that far outweigh their initial investment, but they also provide an opportunity for real estate professionals to broaden their knowledge and expertise into new areas.


(1) Aon Hewitt (2015), ‘Trends in Global Employee Engagement Making Engagement Happen’. Available at in-Global-Employee-Engagement-Report. pdf (accessed 24th May, 2017).

(2) Berry, L. L., Mirabito, A. M. and Baun, W. B. (2010), ‘What’s the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs?’. Harvard Business Review, Vol. 88, No. 12, pp. 104–112.

(3) CoreNet (June 2016), ‘The Bigger Picture: The Future of Corporate Real Estate’. Available at (accessed 24th May, 2017).

(4) Fry, R. (25th April, 2016), ‘Millennials Overtake Baby Boomers as America’s Largest Generation’. Pew Research Center. Available at http://www. millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/ (accessed 24th May, 2017).

(5) Gallup (13th January, 2016), ‘Employee Engagement in U.S. Stagnant in 2015’. Available at poll/188144/employee-engagement- stagnant-2015.aspx (accessed 24th May, 2017).

(6) Gallup (13th November, 2015). ‘What Job-Hopping Employees Are Looking For’. Available at businessjournal/186602/job-hopping- employees-looking.aspx (accessed 24th May, 2017).

(7) Gupta, N. and Sharma, V. (2016), ‘Exploring Employee Engagement—A Way to Better Business Performance’. Global Business Review, Vol. 17, No. 3 (Supplement), pp. 45S–63S: 10.1177/0972150916631082

(8) Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L. and Hayes, T. L. (2002), ‘Business-unit-level Relationship between Employee Satisfaction, Employee Engagement, and Business Outcomes: A Meta-analysis’. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 87, No. 2, pp. 268–279. doi: http://dx.doi. org/10.1037/0021-9010.87.2.268

(9) Hirtle, C. (2016). ‘Employee engagement for workplace success’, Canadian Journal of Medical Laboratory Science, Vol. 78, No. 2, p. 5. Available at https://search. untid=35812 (accessed 24th May, 2017).

(10) Lima T. H. (15th January, 2009), ‘Concierge Services Can Lead to Satisfied Employees’. Society for Human Resource Management. Available at https://www. benefits/pages/conciergeservicescanlead tosatisfiedemployees.aspx (accessed 24th May, 2017).

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