Case Study: An “alternative” solution to a “real” challengeDOWNLOAD
Ask most executives how to cut real estate costs without shrinking headcount and they’ll probably tell you to move to a cheaper location, double up personnel, or rebuild using smaller offices and cubes. But that’s not how one global financial services company sees it.
As part of an enterprise-wide re-engineering effort, this company is targeting real estate costs through a large-scale alternative and mobile workplace program. Executives expect this program to not only drive significant savings from shedding excess office space, but also improve employee attraction and retention, increase productivity, support the company’s corporate responsibility and sustainability efforts by reducing its carbon footprint, and reinforce a performance-oriented culture that focuses on what people do, not where they do it.
With Deloitte’s assistance, the company combined an analysis of high-cost real estate areas with a detailed examination of job function, business suitability, and cultural norms around work flexibility, mobility, and choice. Based on this analysis, the company identified a target pool of about 35 percent of its employees in locations around the world to participate in the program. These employees are being offered a variety of options for remote and mobile working based on their preferred work style, their job responsibilities, and the company’s real-estate goals. In a parallel effort, the company’s information technology (IT) infrastructure is being standardized in a way that is expected to enhance employees’ ability to work from any location. To help make the cultural shift to the new work environment, affected employees and managers will receive training on how to work in, manage, and evaluate virtual teams that might include members from a variety of locations, cultures and backgrounds. The entire effort is backed by a comprehensive communication package that ranges from simple executive memos and project Web sites to videos and town hall meetings.
The ongoing shift to a more mobile workplace has required a high degree of collaboration among the company’s corporate real estate, IT, and human resources (HR) departments. The project leadership team includes the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of real estate, a global HR executive, and a global IT executive who work closely together to coordinate the required technology, talent, and real estate activities. To further drive the necessary cross-functional involvement, the company has developed a detailed implementation guide that describes the specific responsibilities of real estate, IT, and HR professionals in each local rollout. And to hold all relevant stakeholders accountable for progress, the project’s outcome metrics include not only the extent of real estate savings, but participation rates, technology deployments, and other metrics tied to each business unit, HR, and IT.
Begun in late 2007, the alternative workplace effort is expected to yield overall run rate savings of hundreds of millions dollars per year by 2011. Management also expects the benefits to employees – reduced commutes, greater control over work schedule and location, and a focus on the “what” of work rather than “when” or “where” – to improve the company’s ability to attract and retain employees who value flexibility. Productivity is expected to increase due to decreased commute times and an improved ability to use technology and the work environment to accommodate different work styles and needs. Finally, thanks to its smaller physical footprint and the reduction in employee commutes, the company expects this initiative to help in its efforts to reduce total carbon emissions by 10% by 2011.
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