Do you love coming up with creative solutions to help people work smarter?
Could you see yourself managing the fast-growing real estate portfolio of a company like Netflix or Amazon?
If so, you may very well have a future as a workplace strategy manager.
Workplace strategy is a growing offshoot of facility management and corporate real estate that’s becoming much more prevalent. A recent LinkedIn search displayed more than 5,000 jobs with the phrase “workplace strategy” or “workplace strategist” in the title.
Here’s a closer look at what this profession entails and why it’s gaining momentum.
What is Workplace Strategy?
Simply stated, workplace strategy is the way in which the physical space, workforce, and technology come together to maximize productivity and minimize costs.
Workplace strategy has a significant impact on the employee experience — which is no small matter, especially when you consider the high costs of employee turnover.
A good workplace strategy also helps set expectations for employees, such as:
- When they should be available during the day
- How to reserve desks, rooms, and equipment
- How to resolve maintenance issues to make the workplace more comfortable and productive
- How they can find colleagues (maybe through a workplace app) and communicate with them throughout the day
With more organizations moving away from assigned seats in favor of an agile work environment, these are important factors to consider. And you need a workplace champion to advocate for doing what’s right for your employees and your organization (even if it’s not always what’s popular at the moment.)
What Does a Workplace Strategy Manager Do?
The person tasked with overseeing workplace strategy may have a dual role in corporate real estate, facility management or both, depending on the company.
In a recently posted job description for a VP of Workplace Strategy and Facilities at Warner Music Group, it’s a combination of all three, with an added emphasis on corporate hospitality.
Key responsibilities include:
- Managing the lease portfolio
- Supervising the facility management team
- Overseeing construction projects
- Managing contractors and vendors
- Identifying opportunities for cost savings
- Creating measurable goals that drive property and employee success
- Developing and tracking metrics to monitor usage, productivity of staff and client satisfaction
- Helping other departments plan and execute special events
That’s just a short excerpt—the actual job description is much longer. It involves working closely with many people, including senior leadership team and the FM and HR teams.
It’s one thing to have a workplace strategy on paper, but actually implementing it is at least half the battle. Those tasked with overseeing workplace strategy are essentially in charge of managing change in the workplace. They need to be able to effectively communicate the need for change to senior leadership and employees, consider the impact the change will have on everyone, and then help them embrace the change.
Workplace Strategy Skills and Relevant Experience
A workplace strategy manager or director typically has experience in facility management, construction management, interior design or another relevant field.
They also need leadership experience and a well-rounded skill set. Key competencies may include (but are certainly not limited to):
- Strategic planning and space management
- Budgeting and financial forecasting
- Experience using technology and workplace data
- Strong project management and organizational skills
- Ability to think critically and solve problems
- Strong written and verbal communication
- Experience with change management
- Good working knowledge of safety and environmental regulations
Success as a workplace strategy manager or director isn’t necessarily about having all the answers, but knowing how to find them. One job description puts it this way:
“The ability to be fact and data-driven while also being able to speculate is a rare and valued quality in someone looking to be successful in workplace strategy. You are responsible, resilient, accountable, and curious. Most importantly, you will enjoy problem-solving and relish in the challenge of understanding and integrating the client’s true needs into the strategic process.”
What Do Workplace Strategy Professionals Earn?
The average annual salary for a workplace strategist in the United States is $70,953, according to ZipRecruiter. Although salaries vary according to region and job responsibilities, the majority of salaries range between $43,000 and $87,500.
This is slightly higher than the national average for jobs with a more narrow focus on facilities. The average annual salary for a facilities manager in the United States is $63,324, according to ZipRecruiter, although this also varies depending on region and responsibilities.
While both positions typically involve managing people, the pay difference may account for the additional responsibilities workplace strategists often have in contributing to business outcomes. While a facilities manager has traditionally been more involved in overseeing buildings and operations, the workplace strategist title implies a greater focus on managing broader changes that contribute to the company’s bottom line. However, the line between these two roles is becoming blurred as facilities managers feel greater pressure to serve similar functions.
You may not have “workplace strategy” in your title now, but it may be a more accurate description of your current role. If you’ve become more involved in overseeing the overall employee experience and managing workplace change as well as physical buildings, it may be time to ask for a promotion!