The Agile Workplace Blog

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Hoteling and Telework business processes are two sides of the same coin. They should be considered together when planning a new workplace strategy to gain the productivity benefits for the workforce and the infrastructure benefits associated with a more efficient workplace.

You know, it wasn't so long ago that Big was Better; big cars, big hair, big planes, big offices, big mainframes, big...well, you get the idea.

But now, Small is the new Better! Less is More. My, my, how things have changed – everything is upside down and inside out.

Memo from CEO to Middle Management:

I know this is going to come as a shock, but the company can no longer afford to allocate a private jet to each employee. It was nice while it lasted. You will now share seating on our jets with your colleagues.

Now I know that there will be those of you who do not agree with this decision. You believe that you and your people's productivity will take a hit because of all the time you will have to spend making reservations for air travel, instead of just jumping in your jet. You've lamented, "How will I know where my people are if they don't have an assigned jet?" You won't be able to keep all of your belongings in the jet, so you will have to put of the pictures of your loved ones, and your documents onto the network, your laptop and your iPhone instead of storing them in your jet. It will be uncomfortable, you've explained, that you may have to sit in a different jet from day to day to complete your work. You may even have to sit near people you don't know, and that could be uncomfortable as well.

We have heard these objections, yet have decided to stay at the head of the pack; we've got to cut unnecessary expenses. Please let me explain how we came to our decision. While we knew over the years that the utilization of our ever growing fleet of jets was fairly low – we could see the jets all lined up in the hanger unused – we just brushed it off as a cost of doing business. We just continued to assign a jet to each person as they joined the company. And hey, just about every one of our competition's hanger was full of empty jets as well. After all, our budget included the cost of ten year leases on all these jets, and we own some of them as well, so they were viewed by most as "free". To whom were we going to sell or sublet them? This economy is not a great market for used jets. There is also the matter of attracting and retaining top talent. We have to compete against companies that are still offering personal jets to their employees.

But I've commissioned some research by AgilQuest Corporation that have installed systems that reliably and unobtrusively measure that which we have never measured before: the actual use of our entire jet fleet. We're using a technique that provides this data continuously, consistently and systematically over time, making it reliable and believable. This is in significant contrast to our old one-off surveys of jet usage, which you would contest as too short in duration, done manually, done at the wrong time of the year, done in the wrong hanger or for the wrong department and, in short, not believable. Now, there can be no denying the results: the utilization of our jet fleet is under 40%. That means that on any given day, our jets, your jets, are sitting on the tarmac unused while burning money and fuel and producing CO2 at unsustainable rates.

During our study, we came to the following realization: We spend our money in one of three ways - people, jets, and technology, in that order. For our 50,000 person company, we spend about $750 million on jets annually. With our current utilization of 40%, we waste $450,000,000 annually in cash, produce 120,000 metric TONS of C02 and burn 240 million KwH of energy unnecessarily! Once we saw these numbers, we realized that no amount of perceived productivity enhancement can justify this waste and environmental impact. In addition, you all know the pressure we're under in this tough economy to reduce costs and the terrible unemployment rate in our country. As we looked for ways to cut costs, we decided to cut jets not jobs. Don't you agree this is the right way to go?

Some have said, "It is not our culture here to share jets!" Let me inform you now, "It is not our culture here to waste money, degrade our planet, and add to our reliance on foreign energy!"

Signed,

The CEO

PS: The above memo can be transformed from fanciful to factual by changing just one word: Jets to Workspaces. All arguments presented are actually traditional views against new workplace strategies designed to improve utilization and reduce costs and increase workplace flexibility and mobility (hoteling, alternative officing, telework, etc.). All numbers and value propositions are actually for real estate, not jets!

PPS: Preferences vs. Effectiveness:

New workplace strategies may not be the first choice for your employees as it usually involves change. We humans tend to resist change, even if it is (eventually) good for us. In the words of Franklin Becker of Cornell's IWSP, "...it is worth distinguishing between preferences and effectiveness. They are not always synonymous." What people WANT and what the organization as a whole NEEDS to be effective are not always the same thing.

John Vivadelli, CEO, AgilQuest Corporation

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It seems many businesses aren't thinking sanely. I read Deloitte Consulting's new report: What's Next? Cost improvement practices and trends in the Fortune 1000, and it seems many businesses are failing the insanity test.

Two recent articles have caught my attention. Both show the extent to which the leadership at the US General Services Administration is leveraging data to improve facility and workplace performance.

Designing a new workplace to be more cost-effective and still be productive, whether it's the building or the desks or conference room check-in devices or the new policies, is difficult to succeed at, which typically comes down to people.

You have to put in technology to manage reservations and measure utilization, but even when you buy from the right vendor and do the training right, it will still fail if the changes aren't handled well and the effort to participate is too great.

Everyone loves a great story about slaying the beast with skill and a magical weapon, especially when we envision ourselves as the hero or heroine. The good news for our federal government management is that you have this opportunity in real life!

In this story the ferocious, five-headed mandate monster facing every government agency includes the Telework Enhancement Act, the Executive Order on Real Estate Reduction, the Federal Mandate and Legislation on Continuity of Operations and Sustainability, and the Human Capital initiatives for Workplace Flexibility.

In a recent blog post by Larry Simpson, Executive Vice President of Sustainability Roundtable highlights that benchmarking is essential to create a real estate strategy that ultimately drives sustainability excellence. As he says, "to get where you want to go, you have to know where you are starting from."

AgilQuest CEO John Vivadelli added his comments:

The November 2 elections confirmed it, the people want to control spending and cut governmental waste. But even before the elections, the US Federal Government's General Services Administration had plans in place to take a significant chunk out of the government's real estate budget.

CXO's, especially CFO's, care about those things they can manage, measure and control to drive corporate performance and return to stockholders. If it isn't measured, it can't be managed and therefore doesn't make it into the CFO's field of vision. Heretofore, workplace performance hasn't been measured, and therefore not fodder for a CXO discussion - that is until now.

Knowing how people use real estate, measuring it systematically, continuously and consistently over time - AgilQuest's Usage Information Model (UIM) and Platform - gives CFO's the data to measure their portfolio's performance, and allows them to compare it to their competitors.

The UIM provides space planners with the two key workforce and workplace measurements that they need in the planning process:

  1. how much space does each individual actually use, and
  2. how often is each workspace actually used.

Corporate executives can then decide to implement or expand an agile workplace where underutilized workspaces are eliminated and their assigned workers instead reserving a workspace from a shared pool of workspaces.

Traditionally space planners base their needs on departmental requests for space and by using manual methods for determining if people are actually using their workspace. These short-term, visual checks, referred to as "bed checks" usually take place over a short period of time and measure only a sample of the workplace rather than the entire workplace.

The AgilQuest UIM is an operational model that uses data collected for any building or across the entire corporate real estate portfolio on a continual basis. The model integrates with building infrastructure systems, such as security systems, telephony systems, and room reservation systems which recognize when people enter the building and use their assigned or scheduled workspace.

The UIM formalizes two levels of data that need to be considered in the planning process. They are the Scheduled or Assigned Use of each workspace, and the Actual Use of each workspace. The UIM uses the four layers of space planning data (inventory, allocation, scheduled use, and actual use) to create the business intelligence needed for corporate planners to make real estate decisions based on actual use.

AgilQuest's UIM acts very much like an organization's financial system, tracking daily workplace transactions and then rolling them up over time to give management a picture of the performance of their second largest expense and largest balance sheet item – real estate and related workplace assets. The UIM provides corporate executives with the confidence that they are making real estate decisions based on 'actual' use of space rather than the more traditional 'planned' use of space.

For example one of our clients uses their UIM to produce a graph that shows, over time, the number of employees assigned to a facility, the number of workspaces provided at the facility, the number of assigned and reserved workspaces, and the number of spaces actually used. This client can easily see its return on investment (the difference between employees assigned and workplaces provided) and can also easily see if it can reduce total spaces and increase their ROI even further.

 

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It's not enough to just manage space by reserving a hoteling desk and automatically re-routing a mobile worker's phone; an effective space management solution must support workplace managers as well. That means delivering detailed reports to supervisors and managers who support day to day operations. AgilQuest's new OnBoard Reports product delivers these reports in a flexible and powerful way.

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