What’s a workplace blueprint and why do you need one?

Businesses on the cusp of workplace change need real, accurate insight into the wants and needs of their organisations. Many use a combination of fact and perceived needs to inform their decision-making but the companies that make the best property investments (be that relocation or refurbishment) are those which have a workplace blueprint.

A workplace blueprint is borne out of an analytical process. It pulls together detail about your workspace occupancy levels, storage and pathways.  It evaluates the ease of communication between departments and how space is used. It identifies what facilities are lacking and spatial priorities. It takes into account the technologies you use and the different working styles within your business.

In simple terms it gives you the facts you need – not just about the amount of space you occupy, but the ideal configuration and how your teams and processes will be best accommodated within it. It’s an all encompassing and hefty undertaking but its value is significant.

The blueprint reveals whether a company’s workplace vision and objectives can be achieved within its current space. It might show ample square footage but that its configuration isn’t conducive with the flexible, agile and more open plan way of working desired. Or that taking storage off site frees up space to accommodate the extra meeting rooms and project spaces needed.

It may also reveal that an organisation’s current location just can’t deliver the company’s vision. In this context the report takes on additional purpose as it provides the basis of a brief for property agents and a standard by which to judge all potential office locations. Don’t forget, choosing a new location is not just about space – it must be the right space to support the way work is done, the needs of the team and the long term business goals. A workplace blueprint will help you to keep on track and make judgments based on your real, not perceived, needs.

Legal firm Weightmans took this approach in Liverpool, using the workspace blueprint to identify which of its five shortlisted buildings would fulfill its priorities. Each of the five spaces were planned in line with Weightmans’ operational needs – with the pros, cons and limitations of each space clearly identified. The result was an honest appraisal of which building and floor plate would give Weightmans the longevity it needed for its growing business. Had the team used only basic square footage requirements it would have signed a lease for more space and quite likely in a different building. Workplace analysis identified the right investment, saved the firm money and ensured that a vital part of the puzzle, that of how space is used, was kept front of mind during all decision making.

Used properly and a workplace blueprint can provide the basis for building searches and comparisons, inform negotiations with your landlord, act as a brief for your professional partners (interior design and fit-out partners as well as property agents) and provide detailed insight into the processes and behaviours that make up your business.

Most organisations will only move location once, possibly twice, and it will be one of the biggest investments it ever makes. The time, money and commitment involved must be deployed on the right spaces and interior designs if you are to reap the most reward from your workplace. Understand what your organisation really needs and you will be able to answer the question of refurbishment or relocation for yourself.

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