Desana kicked off the year with a truly enlightening webinar on how Enterprise Companies’ office strategies are shaping the world. We were fortunate enough to be joined by Javier Gomez Gutierrez, Senior Director of Environments at Nike and Johan Vanlook, who leads Elastic’s global workspace strategy.
We had a record number of attendees from a range of industries across the globe and the discussion was led by our very own MC - Michael Cockburn (CEO and Co-Founder of Desana).
In case you missed it, here’s a summary of the key takeaways (we wouldn’t want you to miss out):
- “Wait and See”
It was illuminating to learn about how these leaders have navigated the mammoth uncertainty brought about by a global pandemic. The advice they offered decision makers moving forward is to adopt a “Wait and See” approach. It’s clear that data is king and that it will take time to gather enough of it to confidently make major real estate decisions. Instead of making costly physical changes to spaces, Desana was credited as a means to meet employee needs for flexible workspaces while also helping companies gather usage data - crucial to enabling leaders to make decisions about whether to establish offices in particular locations, or not.
2. “Distributed By Design”
This is actually Elastic’s motto, a mostly remote company that was founded pre-pre-pandemic, in 2012. How’s that for forward thinking? Distributed by design is here to stay and set to evolve. To illustrate this point, Johan offered the example of Columbus Ohio which he identified as a hub for tech talent, “Why not create a hub around pre-existing talent and, for example, recruit a tech and developer team there. Instead of getting an office straight away, why not roll out desk booking on-demand. It’s a hub model, but distributed by design.” This has massive benefits for companies, enabling them to attract the best talent in the world, keep their portfolio and costs down, all while lowering their carbon footprint.
3. Tech, Tech, Tech!
The conversation veered towards the increasingly important role that tech has to play in facilitating flexible working for enterprise companies. There is mounting demand for a single solution to solve for all of a company’s flexible coworking needs. What makes Desana unique is that our platform already provides a single solution to globally distributed teams, giving them access to a range of workspaces wherever they are in the world. Everything is streamlined in the Desana app. Employees can access everything from hot desks, phone booths, meeting rooms and collaboration spaces to private offices. They can also easily see which spaces their coworkers plan to work from and book a spot to join them. Crucially - special dashboards and monthly data usage reports allow key decision makers like Johan and Javier to monitor which spaces their employees use and how frequently. We’ve had feedback to say that this is invaluable to our customers in terms of supporting them in all aspects of strategy, planning and budgeting.
4. Let’s go for a 3:1 ratio
The status quo must shift from focussing on the needs of the business to the needs of its employees. One size does not fit all and companies must consistently seek to understand how their people work best and support them. The norm used to be a 1:1 desk ratio with no sharing. Accelerated by the pandemic, many companies are now trying to figure out how to introduce some sort of sharing arrangement, but sticking to the 1:1 ratio. Typically in real estate, earnings have been based on the size of the rent roll managed. But what if decision makers looked at the other side of the coin? Environmental sustainability. What if they took the money they saved on carbon footprint and invested it back into employee experience? Something to mull over. To that end, companies were challenged to adopt a ratio of 3 desks to 10 people.
5. More on Sustainability
Companies that produce consumer goods (hopefully do their due diligence and) spend time investigating how to make their processes more sustainable. But are we getting the same focus on our collective real estate footprint? It’s no secret that real estate has an enormous carbon footprint. Companies were encouraged to take responsibility for their impact and tap into new dynamics, new skills and new locations while being more sustainable and rational. Adopting a 3:1 ratio is a great way to lower your carbon footprint. Looking at whether your employees are in LEAD certified, environmentally friendly buildings is another. In many ways, the demand for flexible workspaces is pushing companies towards a more efficient and sustainable model.
6. Need for Remote Management Training
The change in our relationship with work and the physical space we do it in was rapidly accelerated by the global pandemic. Three years ago you’d know exactly where you’d go to work and what the physical space would look like, whereas today it's increasingly fluid and disconnected. Now more than ever, it’s important to protect the dimensions of your relationship with the company and to think hard about culture, engagement, attracting and retaining talent. One of the main challenges to the smooth operation and long-term viability of the flex model was identified as remote management training. Many companies have had to adopt, and adapt to this new model on a whim, but training is essential to making sure that it operates in a constructive, sustainable way. Definitely worth investing resources in this year.
If you’d like more information on how Desana can help your company solve all its flexible office needs, get in touch!