Gaining Savings and Productivity From Smaller Offices - J Michael Welton via NYTimes.com ⇢
GlaxoSmithKline is an example of a global corporation that is rethinking the workspace and making drastic changes to increase productivity and save money:
J Michael Welton via NYTimes.com
Christian Bigsby, the senior vice president for worldwide real estate and facilities at GlaxoSmithKline, said the company was engaging in what it called an opportunistic “footprint reduction program.” It began to make the investment, based on vacancy, relocations, or lease terminations, about six years ago.
Located in 90 countries with primary administrative centers in Britain, the United States and Belgium, GlaxoSmithKline is enacting the program globally.
if the company provides 85 percent of its space for 35 percent of its work, where was the rest happening?
“We can move to a smaller building with a smarter, improved working environment for reduced S.G.A. costs,” Mr. Bigsby said, using an accounting abbreviation for selling, general and administrative expenses — essentially, the overhead and indirect costs.
Before the program began, 35 percent of GlaxoSmithKline’s work activities were taking place in cubicles or offices. But those spaces took up 85 percent of the company’s office space, what Mr. Bigsby called a significant misallocation of resources. The question became: if the company provides 85 percent of its space for 35 percent of its work, where was the rest happening?
The answer: in meeting rooms, corridors, coffee stations and during travel. “Our solution is to press down the 85 percent dedicated space and increase the variety of alternative work spaces, because people’s activities did not align to the traditional spaces.” Mr. Bigsby said. “The desk space is now about half of our footprint.”
The arrangement of the workplace into neighborhoods and communities, in the form of benching for six people at a stretch, is not without a down side. On what the company calls bonus day earlier this year, Mr. Bigsby scurried to find a private space to review his salary with his superior.
“Everyone was trying to get a one-on-one,” he said. He had to settle for talking to his boss at a video conference out on the floor.
GlaxoSmithKline provides eight seats for every 10 employees, so it is possible that people might work in a different space every day.
A more flexible workplace seem to lead to a more resilient culture, too.