The 8 step guide to an effective Workplace Strategy

Calibro Workspace Office Design and Fitout Ireland - Workplace Strategy

This is Part 2 of our Workplace Strategy series. Have a read of Part 1 to learn things like:

  • What is a workplace strategy?
  • The benefits of having one
  • What’s driving demand for workplace strategy?
  • The fundamentals of workplace strategy

It’s a good place to begin with all of this and we recommend reading that first, then coming back here for the actionables.

“ A workplace strategy aligns your organisation’s work patterns with the work environment to encourage high-performance, reduce costs, and improve employee experience in a sustainable way.”
— Miro Miroslavov, CEO OfficeRnD

Reading that may sound like a tall order. But, it doesn’t have to be. You see strategy is as unique to you as your company goals, mission and values. It will differ from company to company. It took years and a global health crisis for us to realise that ‘work’ is what we do and not a place we go to do it. Employees today are agile, flexible and mostly virtual. Each uses a workspace differently and organisations need to adapt their workplace to new ways of working based on both business goals and employee preferences. This isn’t achieved on a whim by management waking up one day and deciding to move around some furniture or host some employee check-in sessions. The most efficient workplaces you know of are more often than not the result of a carefully considered workplace strategy.

Here we guide you through the 8 step process of how you can develop your own effective workplace strategy so you can create synergy between your bigger business goals, your employees, and your space.

The 8 steps:

  1. Discovery: What’s the bigger picture?
  2. Welcome other insights
  3. Create a plan
  4. Document your strategy
  5. Who’s going to steer the ship?
  6. Communicate your strategy and nourish unity
  7. Unique challenges you might face
  8. Learn, adjust, repeat.

8 steps to tailor your workplace strategy to your business

Calibro Workspace Office Design and Fitout Ireland - Workplace Strategy

When companies start examining their strategy they oftentimes see more than expected. And that’s the point. Your workplace considerations directly affect everything else including business strategy, operating approach and organisational model. Any information that pulls insights on these and how to improve them is worth your time and attention. Crafting a workplace strategy lays the foundations required for dynamic teams.
You can begin with this 8-step framework.

1. Discovery: What’s the bigger picture?

Begin by taking a pulse of how things currently are. Identify what’s invigorating your teams, and what’s currently dragging them down, where you are leaking money and how best to utilise every inch of your space. Conduct a needs assessment looking at technology, employee experience, and environmental impact. Identify what your existing structures, processes, monitoring and employee behaviour is like. Measure office efficiency and look out for bottlenecks. A checklist of considerations at this point might include:

  • Tracking occupancy data to see how and when people use desks, meeting rooms and other spaces, and average daily attendance.
  • Gauge current employee engagement levels.
  • Gauge employee satisfaction
  • Identify spaces needing improvement
  • Within your spaces, are the furnishings appropriate? Ergonomic desks and chairs, height adjustable desks?
  • Where are your employees located? What do they value: autonomy, flexibility, connection?
  • What kind of space do they need when working on-site?
  • Are you catering for diversity, equity and inclusion? Is the work environment accessible for all? Does it consider the individual needs of people who have disabilities or are neurodiverse?
  • Does the space allow for natural light? How can you bring the outside in?
  • Consider employee comfort; do you have controllable lighting and air conditioning / heating?
  • Examine technological aptitude. Do people need more training?
  • Is technical infrastructure sufficient? Do systems work as they should or could they be improved? Are the internet and video conferencing facilities up to standard?
  • Operational costs
  • Compliance with health and safety
  • Energy efficiency
  • Waste management
  • Access to external amenities; parking, accessibility by public transport, dine out options, gyms, childcare etc.

Build a clear picture of how people are using the workspace so you can understand the current nature of things. A start-stop-keep format can be useful to include in any feedback exercises you carry out. Take note of what is working well and should be kept, what’s not working about the workplace and should go, and what would be great to introduce to the workplace.

At this stage it’s good to include company leadership and stakeholders to identify key business goals and the KPI’s you’ll use to measure success. You can only achieve success with a clear structure and the possibility to measure it. Use the current state of the workplace, from the information you gather, to map the strategy with the priorities of the company. This will align employee and leadership needs and ensure everything aligns with the company’s mission, vision and values. Effective communication is key to balancing efficiency with a personal touch here. Combining this information shows where your strategy should focus its efforts to push for progress.

2. Welcome other insights

You’ll want to talk to your employees to understand how they feel about the workplace. Rich workplace data, the kind you’ll have going into this phase, is made more compelling when partnered with employee surveys. Ask for feedback in every business area and try to dig up further insights on whether people feel the workplace is helping them perform at their best. Encourage a culture of transparency and you’ll learn a lot.

3. Create a plan

Now that you have the lay of the land it’s time to create actionable steps towards your desired outcome. Depending on your focus, whether that’s cost reduction, sustainability, collaboration, employee experience, employee engagement, or a combination of them all, you can consider a range of actions. These may include:

  • Adding more meeting spaces with technology that supports hybrid working.
  • Adding more informal spaces.
  • Introducing areas for specific activities — brainstorming areas, phone booths for meetings, space for quiet concentration, wellbeing rooms for downtime and other uses.
  • Making the workplace more visually interesting.
  • Introducing areas for booster breaks.
  • Incorporating flexible furniture so employees can adapt the space how they like.
  • Introducing more flexible work schedules and agile workspaces.
  • Adding more cubicles, individual offices, or shifting to an open plan.

4. Document your strategy

Create a shared playbook, a single source of truth that the entire workforce can easily access so everyone has the same guidance. Unorganised processes are something you want to avoid, particularly if you’re operating on a hybrid model. Having clear and up-to-date guidelines acts to minimise ambiguity and improve the overall quality of work. It makes it much easier for onboarding new employees and can quickly provide evidence of compliance when employees need it. When documenting your workplace strategy you should:

  • Outline all the processes of the workplace strategy including onboarding, technology infrastructure, and culture.
  • Provide a step-by-step breakdown of the process. Make it digestible.
  • Include helpful tools, resources and guidelines for completing work.
  • Adopt a mindset of continuous revision. Workplaces are fast moving environments. Refine your strategy with regular feedback to remain relevant.

5. Who’s going to steer the ship?

Change, especially if major, can induce a period of confusion and anxiety among those in it. Even if you’re adopting a new hybrid model or simply redesigning the workplace experience, having strong leadership paving the way can help employees embrace the transition. Forming at least a temporary team/working group can ensure progress runs smoothly and the strategy is receiving the attention and resources needed to succeed. They can also track the goals set and adapt to any changes that come knocking.

Calibro Workspace Office Design and Fitout Ireland - Workplace Strategy

6. Communicate your strategy and nourish unity

Once you’ve got your workplace strategy in a document, it’s time to communicate it to your teams. Clearly define the goals of the strategy and how it relates with those of the company. Make it clear that any decision you make is intentional and has a purpose, that it’s not made on the whim of management. Rather the decisions you are making about your workplace are data-driven and informed by employee behaviour.

It’s important to make this as engaging as possible. Sometimes these things can seem like information overload. The strategy is important, make sure it’s landing well on ears and eyes. You can create interactive lessons to educate employees on how the strategy will help boost productivity and fulfil their needs. It may include guidance on any new technology, policies, procedures or culture updates. Maybe even get visual with CAD drawings, graphics, simulations. This will spark energy and increase engagement.

Define what’s expected of your people. Outline how they’ll communicate, collaborate, and utilise the space. Give them updates on working schedules: are they flexible or fixed and walk them through the procedures involved. Lastly, monitor progress and give feedback to employees. This will keep everything on track.

7. Unique challenges you might face

Change isn’t without challenge. It’s important to note some of them so you can prevent any overriding your strategy. Here are the most notable three:

1. Maintaining company culture across locations:

If you run a fully-remote or fully-on-site team, this isn’t as applicable. If you operate a flexible or hybrid model making sure you maintain a consistent culture across various locations can be a struggle. A struggle that can rear its head as miscommunication, employee disconnect, and a lack of trust. Combat this by conducting regular check-ins with employees, using collaborative platforms like Slack or Teams, and promote social connections like ‘Town Halls’ or virtual coffee meet ups.

2. The Impact of AI:

AI technology is making waves across every sector, reshaping how tasks are performe and redefining job roles. It has the ability to automate and streamline repetitive tasks, speed up decision making, and enhance efficiency. Learning to understand and implement it, and training staff how to best use it, is an important consideration in workplace strategies.

3. Playing to the needs of every generation:

One of the more puzzling aspects of workplace strategy is creating a harmonious multi-generational workforce. From experienced Baby Boomers, to Gen Z, each group has its own needs, values, communication methods and expectations. Crafting a strategy that is inclusive to such diversity requires agility and empathy. Something to bear in mind.

8. Learn, adjust, repeat

As time carries on, your work environment will change and with it, your strategy. It’s good to adapt a malleable approach and be prepared to move with the times. Stay in contact with your staff often, ask for feedback from them and leaders, keep up with workplace trends and shift as you need.

Building a winning workplace strategy with Calibro

Calibro Workspace Office Design and Fitout Ireland - Workplace Strategy

Your organisation has specific and unique needs, requirements and goals. It takes an experienced and emphatic partner to understand them and produce something brilliant, something tangible, something that works for you. That’s our bread and butter. We have it in big bold writing across our website. Our design process is thorough and inclusive, each phase contributes to a cohesive final result. While workplace strategies vary from project to project, here’s a brief look at how we help clients build strategies that work towards their goals:

Early engagement is important.

Getting us onboard as soon as you can means you can begin ironing out the creases in your existing strategy and get back to your efficient, usual operation.

Understanding your employee’s is an essential benchmark to work from.

We use a combination of tools and research techniques to gather information on working patterns, staff perceptions, engagement and satisfaction levels, wellbeing, work-life balance, social cohesion, storage requirements as well as your appetite for workplace change or flexible or activity-based working.

Relocation strategy.

If during discovery you find your office is too big, too small, or just not the correct space for you, we can help with a relocation strategy. Over the years we’ve nurtured relationships with real estate agents, landlords and leasing companies meaning we have the connections to help find the perfect space for what you need. Plus the expertise in design, construction and fitout to plan and realise your vision.

Workplace consultancy:

It’s on us to understand every aspect of how your workplace functions. Opportunity could be hiding where you least expect it. Good thing we have an eye for drawing it out with a comprehensive audit. We use proven methodologies and data gathering tools to map the needs of your business and your people in the current working environment and use what we find to make positive changes to benefit everyone.

We take into account things like your company culture, workstyles and agility, workplace efficiency, security, the technology you use, furniture, storage, layout, lighting, sustainability, acoustics, branding, inspiring interiors and the wellbeing of your employees. That’s not an exhaustive list, there’s much more we think about but the main idea is we can optimise your workplace in line with your goals with pinpoint accuracy.

The project doesn’t end where you think it would

Following the handover of your new office, our Aftercare team will review the outcome of the project with your team to document feedback and discuss any future considerations for your office. Whether you need a minor refresh or ongoing maintenance our team is here to help. We can provide ongoing support and continue to meet any post-contract requirements or minor amendments that may arise. We also have an immediate response team — because emergencies don’t always happen during normal business hours.

Calibro in action

Calibro Workspace Office Design and Fitout Ireland - Workplace Strategy

“Without Calibro I know we would not be sitting here today in our fantastic new premises. The team are blown away, no-one expected what they walked into today and the feedback was great. Louise and I couldn’t be happier, it’s exactly what we hoped for… they went way beyond design, they understand you and what you’re trying to achieve.”

Those are some kind words from the Directors of the MCS Group. We helped them create a destination workplace to attract and retain talent, and enhance their clients’ experience by taking them step-by-step through what we’ve laid out above. If you want to see what your project could look like from first engagement to leaving an ecstatic testimonial, you can check out the MSC Group case study here.

Or, if you’re ready to get the ball rolling you can reach out at +44 (0)2894 425 200 or drop us a note


Image 1, 2 and 3 sources: Office Snapshots


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