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Managing Property and Facilities in Uncertain Times

As the pandemic's impact wanes, the return to the office reveals a shift toward flexible work schedules, prompting businesses to reassess their office space utilisation. This article explores strategies for optimising office layouts and fostering staff connections in this evolving work landscape.

While the affects of the pandemic are kinda behind us, staff are settling into working from the office again, but things are not what they were pre-March 2020.

The move to flexible working has had a big impact, with the office no longer fully occupied every weekday. The trend most of us are probably seeing is that it’s busy Tuesday to Thursday and the days either side of the weekend less so.

If you are leasing your office the lower occupancy makes you question your value for money. It costs a lot to only have it half full so how do you ensure that you get value for money?

If your lease is due to expire soon then you could consider your options and look for smaller premises to reduce your ongoing costs. But that still doesn’t ensure staff are going to come to the office.

Staff need a reason to come and coming in to do their work is no longer the primary draw card. Staff want to connect with their colleagues when they are in the office.

Team days is one way to ensure everyone is in at the same time and staff will commit to the commute if they know others will be there when they are. Don’t underestimate the value of those cross desk, making a cuppa of chai, spotting someone in the office conversations.

Think about your office layout. Is a bunch of desks the best way to set up your office space, or could you offer up different furniture options to help support staff to connect and collaborate? There are some great reasonably priced options out there and checking out what others have done or visiting suppliers is an excellent way to come up with ideas to support your teams.

Consider desk sharing by monitoring how often that bunch of desks is actually used each week. Asking staff about why they come to the office and what they need when they are there is another way to ensure you invest wisely.

Think about the social component too. What are some ways to get to know your colleagues outside of the tasks they do to do their jobs and as a consequence make the office a little bit more fun?

The office still has its place, especially for reinforcing company culture, but we all need to think smarter around what the office offering is to best maximise its usage for your business.

I do however think we may have to give up on full office Fridays and just accept that Fridays are their own beast.

Bruce Jamieson - Manager Workplace Experience, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited

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