Why Liberating Your Workforce Will Get Them To Love Your Workplace

by Mike Petrusky on March 1, 2019

As a workplace manager you’re really tasked with two jobs, keeping the workplace running and keeping the workforce happy. But recently, we’re beginning to understand the two responsibilities aren’t mutually exclusive. I sat down with Terry Tran and Sara Andersen of Genentech and Rebecca Symmank of iOFFICE to discuss the challenges many workplace leaders face. All three reported variations of the same story; that by helping their workplace run more efficiently, they found the workforce reported a higher satisfaction and greater experience as a result. Here’s how that’s possible.

Designing Neighborhood Work Environments To Liberate The Workforce

Sara Andersen | Director of Real Estate Management at Genentech
Terry Tran | Associate Director of Work Environment Integration at Genentech 

“What we see is that when you have access to multiple choices of where you do your work, that trumps owning one space.” 
“…Thinking beyond the office environment, think about how can people participate from anywhere and still feel like they’re part of a community?”

From Sara’s background in architecture and interior office design, and Terry’s experience with occupancy planning and business technology the two were meant to create workplace harmony. They both currently work for Genentech, one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, based in the bay area. The two run Genentech’s expansive corporate campus that currently serves 14,000 employees, and is almost a mini-city in itself. 
Sara and Terry’s initial goal of creating a “cohesive and connected workplace” across the large Genentech campus and the community has certainly been fulfilled. In part, thanks to their unique approach they’ve referred to as “Neighborhood Work Environments”, which are designed with various spaces that enable their business to meet all the needs of their staff. They believe the work environment or the “neighborhood” is one massive enabler of how people might want to work, so it should be flexile, and should contain these three key pillars:
  • Physical: The workspace should be functional, flexible and inviting to the community
  • Technology: The right tech should enable variations in working style and should connect the workforce no matter their location
  • Social: The space should support people and social norms, and the ability for teams to work together in various capacities
But providing beautiful, functional spaces is only half of the job. Sara and Terry also emphasis that workplace leaders should give the workforce a choice on where to work, because everyone works a bit differently. Giving your workforce the autonomy to make their own decisions based on what’s best for them can help the business and the people. This is why it’s so important to ensure all employees have access to “the neighborhood” through the use of technology, so even when they don’t come to the main campus they feel connected to Genentech’s mission and values. Enabling the employee to have options on where they want to work gives a sense of ownership of one’s day and work, which ultimately produces greater productivity and employee satisfaction. Now that’s a win-win. 

Make Your Employees Fall In Love With Your Workplace & Dramatically Impact Your Bottom Line

Rebecca Symmank | Sales Director for iOFFICE, Inc. 

“If I’ve got the opportunity to reduce costs and it’s actually going to have a benefit on retaining and attracting top talent – truly that’s some return on investment that the C-Suite is really going to pay attention to and take notice of.”

Rebecca Symmank understands what it’s like to be on the other side of workplace management. A former iOFFICE user, she utilized our IWMS software help achieve her previous organization’s goals. One thing she agrees all workplace leaders struggle with? The balancing act of running a building more efficiently while increasing employee satisfaction. I sat down with Rebecca for a webinar covering how facility management and corporate real estate professionals could collaborate with HR & IT and with technology could have an impact on workplace expenses using JLL’s “3-30-300 rule” as a guide. 

Most companies have the same types of expenses, which include:
   – $3/sq ft per year in utilities
   – $30/sq ft per year in real estate
   – $300/ sq ft per year for payroll

With the help of workplace technology like space management software, you get greater insight into how your space is being used, and where your current workplace might be wasting square footage or utilities. By improving costs at the $3 or $30 level, you’ll see a retention in your $300 level, which is where the bulk of your expenses are. Providing functioning real estate and optimizing your utilities will allow you to create better spaces for your employees, and your retention rates will increase. 

We then covered Kate Lister’s research on alternative workspaces, which supports the need to design spaces and incorporating technology that allow employees choice in where they work. By providing “me” and “we” spaces, you cover all types of work that can happen during a typical day, from collaborative meetings to private concentration. Technology can be used to gather data on which spaces are being used the most and what types of spaces you need more of in the future, and where you can cut back. By listening to your workforce and adapting to their needs, you will create a more robust and cost-effective workplace in the process. 


Mike Petrusky

Mike Petrusky is host of the “Workplace Innovator Podcast” and Director of Events and Growth Marketing at iOFFICE. He joined iOFFICE in March of 2018 with a mission to energize the company’s live events. He is a dynamic speaker, podcaster, and seasoned marketer who has a passion for sharing iOFFICE’s unique brand of thought leadership to CRE & FM leaders in the digital workplace.

Capterra Ratings: ★★★★★ 4.5/5