Our Thoughts

Optimising real estate to boost productivity

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

It is becoming more and more recognised that real estate must support the role of employees and business so they can fulfil their true potential. 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 and reflects the brand and values of the organisation. However, there is much more that real estate can do.

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.

Working an international financial institute, we created a new environment for a group of young, dynamic programmers working on B2C apps. 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 airy and 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.

An engine for change

In many cases, companies need help to use their real estate as a lever to attract and retain talent. Many companies are increasingly investing in fewer sites, but making those sites 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.

Sometimes, real estate can be a trigger for a change in company structure. In the UK we worked with a large financial institute which was facing costly infrastructure upgrades in its London headquarters due to overcapacity. 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.

Return on investment

Today, with a wealth of consulting and management services on offer, companies can harness external expertise to get more from their real estate, with the aim of making their real estate assets sweat even more while simultaneously helping employees to work more efficiently. Consultants such as Leesman bring empirical evidence about workplace efficiency to formulate a customised improvement strategy.

The key idea behind these initiatives is to help companies maximise their investment in bricks and mortar. Our clients come to us because they want to be more efficient, focus on the core business activity, save costs and maximise their return on real estate. The relationship between real estate and employees is a key factor in optimizing real estate. The biggest costs for companies today are their buildings, their staff and technology – and, by impacting one, they necessarily impact the other.