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Do you leverage your property enough?

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

The pandemic's forced disruption to established operating models and the resulting impact on clients and staff is both real and extraordinary painful for many organisations. Initial short term adaptation has giving way to fundamentally re-tooling the way we work.

Transformation journeys are being mapped out all around. Flexible Working. Future Workforce. Cost Optimisation. Process Re-engineering. Digitisation of the Workplace. The headlines are as varied as the desire to make an impact. Today, we explore an often overlooked source of real transformational power.

Why is property uniquely suitable to support wider transformation journeys? How can execution certainty of ambitious entity wide programmes increase through inclusion of location strategy? What are some of the basics to get right when increasing the leverage of real estate in your organisation?

Tail wagging the dog

Property costs - acquiring, leasing, outfitting, maintaining offices and facilities, as well as paying industry service providers - are typically responsible for 8-15% of the cost base for financial institutions, dwarfed by the 55-70% costs directly associated with staff, i.e. hiring, pay, training etc. Businesses and functions utilising office space find their respective property costs through more or less complex cost waterfalls, however many of our clients explain to us their difficulties to understand what they are really paying for. Property costs are mostly seen as an allocated costs that a business or function cannot directly influence or manage. Making property a transparent part of larger transformation journeys changes this perspective and unlocks value immediately.

Utilise long lead times

Experience from complex change programmes shows us that holding stakeholders consistently to their long term commitments made at the outset is one key aspect to create sustainable behaviour change. Conversely, we often see failure when commitments are allowed to remain empty promises without actions. The longer lead times between decisions and implementation of property & location changes is a natural change control well suited to ensure that stakeholders treat their programme commitments for real. Location decisions, once taken, are very visible across an organisation and will also greatly support relatable communication throughout execution.

Breaking down silos

Ordering separate teams to just work together, and expecting great outcomes can easily miss the point. Collating property requirements and assumptions for how and where people work in each business and function, on the other hand, creates a powerful common denominator for evidence based discussions. In entity wide programmes, staff need to be aware of and embrace simplifications, gain the knowledge and skills to implement change and to eventually create sustainable outcomes. Having one common and evidenced data set that is relatable to all teams, is a great starting point. Validated golden source property data is a proven enabler for better team work.

Counting bums in seats (not!)

Working from home, moving data centres to the cloud, regionally diversified virtual teams, more flexible collaboration spaces in the office - these are all developments that make counting bums in seats as a proxy for property requirements outdated. Transformation towards a future-proof workforce still requires a deep understanding of the 4 Ws: who does what by when from where. While traditional analysis of property was often a cost management exercise only, defining and optimising new operating models becomes the real value in location strategy.

Property teams

Managing and maintaining office and facility spaces remain an important core part of property services. Overseeing outsourced industry service providers and transparently keeping stakeholders informed about them is equally relevant. However, leveraging property as outlined above to directly enable and strengthen execution certainty of major transformation programmes requires that property teams themselves are up-skilled and that performance KPIs are revisited (more property to manage = more team compensation, anyone still?)


To learn how your organisation can leverage property and your real estate teams more effectively, please contact us below.

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