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What's The Number?

We have recently returned from a trip to our capital city to spend time with our friends at Vitra and one of their Clients. The purpose was initially to see the results of a pilot project for agile working, however on meeting the client it became clear that we were in for an different experience to the one we expected…What did we expect? Well with a Vitra led project we naturally expect a stunning environment and something quite cool. It’s not that non of these were true but it was how the client produced data about how their new spaces were working that impressed and inspired us.

For years we've been consistently asked for the number! What does it cos? How many people can we get in?…It's always a number. In this instance and at a tap of an i pad we could see exactly how their space was was being used, now, 10 minutes ago, yesterday…whenever we chose. The client had real time data on the occupancy of their space and were able to use this to provide the intelligence to manage its space effectively and very efficiently which has already enabled them to reduce their space dependancy by an incredible amount and realise some substantial savings. The thing is, in London space costs approximately £100 per sq. foot, here in the North East its roughly a fifth of that. So as compelling as it was how would this translate back home?

Getting the calculator out I established by comparison that agile working in London (assuming best case 7 workstations for every 10 employees) was creating a saving of approximately £2700 per employee, based on average salary of 40K for London, this is roughly 6.75% of their salary. Doing the same comparison for the North savings equate to only £669.00 per employee (average uk salary 27k) therefore 2.4%.

At first i felt quite disappointed until it dawned on me. We are all set on making savings, being more efficient and are we missing a point?! There is a lot of effort in creating these savings and rightly so. (Don’t fall asleep yet, it will make sense) But if by doing so and saving 2 or even 5%, what happens if the new space does not work and productivity for whatever reason drops by the same margin! Your saving has gone immediately, never mind the costs attributed in getting there. But Conversely what would the extra cost be in making sure this is not the case and we can actually get an increase in productivity, energise the people, encourage creativity and create real wellbeing!! For argument sake what happens if we can increase productivity by 5%? That's equivalent to £1350 per employee per year (in an average office of 50 people = £67500) which is generally more than the average employer spends on the furnishings that will last more than 10 years.

So whilst the same pattern is true at both ends of the country the lower cost of space up North means much bigger benefits can be realised when the workspace is designed to fully support the no1 asset, The People.

Interestingly, I have heard clients claiming productivity increases well in excess of 20% when moving to well designed, agile workspaces. Granted, this is incredibly difficult to calculate accurately or prove due to the many variables and influencing factors. I will let you do your own calculations and leave you to imagine what could be possible? Let's think more positively!

For the record Vitra’s client has experienced a very positive side to their exercise, staff are more energised, happier and no doubt more productive. I can’t wait to find out what the number is, something they can hopefully share with us in time.

(Notes added 2106) We now know that more focus on Activity based working rather than just pure agile brings a more human centred and balanced approach to solving user needs in a workplace. Ok from experience we are seeing that this often requires a little more space to implement but the rewards for the occupants and business are much greater. Again 'do the math' as they say.

Finally if you have not looked at the Leesman Index yet which provides key data behind the Stoddart review, I would strongly recommend you take a look or get in touch with us for more information. To quote a section of the review, 'the evidence is simply too compelling to ignore!'

Reader Comments (4)

Nice post..keep up the good work of posting good stuffs.

April 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlexander

New Ways of Working increases creativity & engagement!

June 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrand

I like this way of thinking, it really inspires me for my own company. I gonna take this in mind when setting up a new business plan.

June 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeter ValueBlue

Really nice posts thanks for sharing, it gives us inspiration!

August 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMercruiser

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