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The change in work methods and especially the increase in working remotely have led to excessive wasted space in many offices. CGI also encountered that challenge when developing the office space became relevant due to a corporate transaction. The challenge with improving the efficiency on how space was utilized was not only determining the actual utilization rate, but also that the amount of used space needed to be reduced – but without compromising on employee satisfaction.
Along with reassessing the utilization rate of the office space, it also became clear what type of space CGI employees really needed. The new office space was designed based on needs and the end result was that the noisy open floor-plan office was replaced with a flexible activity-based office. The negative feedback regarding the office space ended right away – while space efficiency was also improved by approximately three square meters for every workstation.
Changed Working Methods Result in Wasted Space
The company grows and the office space and its associated costs along with it? At first glance it seems logical, but Real Estate Director Heikki Ikonen at CGI knows that there are also more efficient alternatives. CGI is a real-life example of this: of the company’s 60,000 square metres of office space in Finland, a third (20,000m²) was eliminated, even though the number of employees has remained the same.
“Five years ago, CGI did not use space efficiently. “The space efficiency was approximately 15 m² per workstation, when now it is approximately 12 m²”, says Ikonen. Improving the space efficiency was started five years ago due to a corporate transaction. Initially, the problem was not only determining the actual utilisation rate of the space, but also identifying the need for different types of spaces.
When evaluating the need for space, it is especially important to be able to measure the utilisation rate, as studies demonstrate that employees often estimate that they spend more time at their workstations than they actually do. Another challenge for the process was that the CGI employee profile varies from a mobile consultant to an office worker, in addition to the company’s team structure being geographically diversified.
Analysis of the Space Usage Revealed the Problem Areas
It was worth the effort. Upon analysing office space use, for example, it was discovered that meetings with only two people were more common than meetings with more attendees, yet there were no meeting rooms specifically for only a few attendees. Therefore, space was being wasted practically in every meeting that was held in the oversized conference room.
Today, all of CGI’s offices are activity-based offices, which have shared work areas and work space designated for specific purposes. It is possible to modify the office space according to the needs and their utilisation rates are regularly measured. Designated desks no longer serve as storage space for remote workers for half of the time.
The Activity-based Office Resulted in Revenue Growth and Improved Occupational Well-being
The improved space efficiency at CGI’s Oulu office was highly successful from both the financial and employee satisfaction perspectives. Previously, the company had two offices in the city, which were now combined into a single new office at the Linnanmaa campus. This resulted in less office space, but people are still very satisfied with the new office – at least if the drop in received feedback is to be trusted, says Project Assistant Ulla Siira, who works at the Oulu office.
“Our previous office was an old-fashioned, crowded and noisy open floor-plan office. The negative feedback ended instantly after the move into the activity-based office”, says Siira.
Heikki Ikonen also feels the Oulu office was a good example of successful cooperation and improving space efficiency well. When the change is made carefully and based on comprehensive measurements, one can improve revenue growth, work output and occupational well-being.
Significantly Fewer Agreements
Three of CGI Finland’s offices are located on Technopolis campuses. According to Ikonen, campus life is well-suited for a consulting company: “A Business Park environment is absolutely the easiest alternative for a company like CGI, because there are far fewer service agreements than if we had to manage all of them ourselves.”
The Business Park environment is not only effortless to manage, but it is also a cost-effective solution. “There are three key criteria for financial analysis at CGI: space efficiency, space utilisation rate and the operating costs for the space as a percentage of sales. It is also important to consider how functional is the space for the daily lives of employees. Technopolis space performs well with all of these indicators”, says Ikonen.