Six Steps to Conquer Workplace Churn and Maintain Reliable Data

If a constant shuffling of desks in your workplace seems like it’s become the new norm, you’re not alone. In 2017, clients of Gensler’s space and occupancy management platform, Wisp, experienced a 49 percent churn rate: half of all occupants moved desks at least once last year. That’s a lot of movement for facilities teams to keep up with. Whether it is due to space needs or efforts to improve performance, a by-product of churn is its impact on data integrity within workplace management systems.

“Data is stale in a week, that’s how it goes in space planning: It needs to be immediate.” — Vice President of Corporate Real Estate, Banking and Financial Services Firm

At a time when access to big data is the keystone to workplace strategy, we’re hearing that accessing up-to-date metrics about space usage is a challenge for corporate real estate executives. Instilling and maintaining data governance of space management systems remains an obstacle for most organizations, but especially for large organizations with multi-faceted teams. With consideration and strategy though, a reliable workflow can be implemented.

Real estate and facilities teams are challenged with questions such as:

  • How can I keep up as our portfolio grows?
  • How do we align processes across departments?
  • How can I avoid dual data entry?
  • How do we streamline a workflow in all offices?

Having guided many clients through the implementation of Wisp, we’ve learned what is needed for achieving data integrity in space and occupancy management systems. Whether a workplace portfolio is 3,000- or 30-million-square-feet, these six steps can be right-sized for any organization, resulting in accurate and insightful data:

  1. Understand: Don’t fix something that isn’t broken. Start this process as a fact-finding investigation to understand the current process. Recognize what’s working well and what could be improved. Identify people who are involved in each step of the process and the information that is being transferred. I like to grab a pen and paper and physically map this out with my clients.
  2. Define: Once the current process is mapped, define the new process by talking through best practices, key roles and responsibilities. There are typically two or three key roles that are needed in the workflow, depending on the organization:

    Requester: starts the process by identifying a need.

    Approver: optional role with ability to approve or deny the request.

    Completer: oversees the governance of processes and the data integrity.

  3. Streamline: This is all about working smarter, not harder. Eliminate redundancies by streamlining processes for consistency. Avoid manual spreadsheets and email. Reduce sources for move requests and minimize duplicate data entry. Encourage a proactive approach by empowering the “Requesters” to be part of a systematic process.
  4. Automate: Increase data integrity and efficiencies by automating tasks such as data exchanges, email notifications and move sheet exports. In Wisp, the change request system automates communication between teams as requests move through the workflow.

    “With more millennials entering the workforce, this is the perfect time to roll out automation. If there is a chance to remove paper forms and automate, they are all for it.” — Shawn Biven, Senior Property Project Manager, ADP

  5. Rollout: Change management and communication are critical to successfully implement a new process. Start by identifying people affected by the change to understand their role in its success. Consider piloting the new process or using a phased approach. After the rollout, continue to communicate with key players. Some of my clients have recurring calls with each of their office locations to ensure the process is working as intended. This allows teams to learn from each other and make continuous improvements across a large portfolio.
  6. Track and Improve: Once the new move management process has been rolled out and the right tools are implemented, the framework is in place to keep up with churn. Real estate and facilities teams can then monitor and access the data and information needed to support all phases of the real estate life cycle.

“When accurate data is available, invitations to the decision-making table increase. This proactive approach can move a business into strategy and action more quickly.” — Christi Van Maanen, Studio Director, Gensler

To learn more about mastering your move management process, download our detailed guide for an in depth look at each step.

Ashley Betthauser
Ashley Betthauser Betthauser leads clients in the implementation of Gensler’s space and occupancy management platform, Wisp. With years of helping clients improve their internal processes to attain data integrity with their systems, she knows what works and what doesn’t. She has supported clients with portfolios ranging from thousands to millions of square feet and had developed best practices that can apply to organizations of all sizes.