The cost of real estate, along with more mobility and a focus on collaborative work, has resulted in the average workstation footprint shrinking rapidly and has spawned a trend towards real estate optimization. This trend shows no sign of abating; according to a survey conducted by Steelcase and CoreNet Global, 80% of those surveyed expect to contract their space per employee by an average of 10%.

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Within the open plan, there are opportunities to create an ecosystem of spaces that support collaboration and focus.

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Enclosed spaces, such as this shared V.I.A. enclave, can provide privacy in an open plan setting.

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Today, optimizing real estate is essential to the bottom line. Each square foot becomes an opportunity to use space effectively.


Alternative Workplace Strategy (or AWS), pioneered by IBM in 1989, which includes teleworking and employee mobility strategies, has reduced the size of real estate portfolios by about 6-10%, according to CoreNet Global. The problem that arises is that often companies that have implemented AWS as a space reduction strategy often leave real estate idling: 11% of mobile workers still have an assigned workstation. Ultimately, the key to a resilient real estate strategy is one that embraces real estate optimization as a means of reallocating space to support an organization’s unique strategy and culture. Today, many organizations are looking at fostering collaboration by designing spaces that support interaction. For example traditional private offices may be reduced or eliminated in favor of project team rooms, work cafés or informal collaborative spaces. Or, in the case of a mobile workforce, replacing resident workspaces with space-saving benching or touchdown stations.


As companies optimize their real estate they may sub-lease or rent portions of their space, move to a smaller footprint or rethink how they allocate space. During this process an important factor is to design the workplace with the right balance of individual and shared work spaces. Looking at space as an ecosystem, you can adjust your footprint to effectively support brand, culture and overall strategy. By looking at the workplace as a space where employees have choice and control in where and how they work, it becomes a key tool in augmenting performance, innovation and engagement.

Key ideas when thinking about creating space to amplify performance:
•  The more mobile & distributed we are, the more we need fixed places to connect.
•  The smaller our technology, the more we need scale up to share effectively.
•  The more data we generate, the more we need places to help us make sense of it.
•  The more collaborative we became, the more we need time alone.
•  The more virtual we need to be, the more physical we want to be.

Optimization 2-Up

By looking at space through the lens of a holistic ecosystem that considers choice and control, space becomes a key tool in augmenting performance, innovation and engagement.

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If you treat your real estate like an asset, you don’t just shrink, you rethink the space to help employees have more choice and control in how they work. In a CoreNet/Steelcase survey, 57% of companies say they reconfigured individual space to accommodate team spaces, and 41% say they created cafés, meeting spaces, and other alternative work-settings.



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