Business Transformation: Navigating Change in Turbulent Times
June 19, 2023 4 Minute Read
Hybrid work. Talent shortages. Supply chain disruptions. Higher interest rates. Recession fears. It’s a perfect storm for business, and corporate real estate executives (CRE) increasingly find themselves at the nexus of real estate and organizational transformation.
What does “transformation” mean?
Transformation is an overused and often misunderstood term. Simply put, organizational transformation is an intentional shift in how, when and where work is done. Successful transformation lets everyone work effectively to innovate and advance the company’s vision and culture. The goal is to get the right people with the right skills in the right places at the right time so organizations can achieve their objectives and teams can reach their potential.
Transformation requires a highly strategic game plan that reflects the drivers behind the company’s success while guiding employees through the change process. That plan includes asking tough questions about the company’s operations and being open to new ways of doing things.
How does transformation start?
A successful transformation starts with questions. At the outset, leadership and stakeholders must define the purpose:
- What are the company’s goals, and what does success look like?
- How will the company meet customer expectations amid change?
- How can the company maintain a high level of productivity?
- Are people, skills and offices located where they are needed?
- Are the right technologies and processes in place to maintain workflow?
Most importantly, all stakeholders must align on the objectives and the strategy for transformation.
If mergers and acquisitions are on the horizon, the transformation strategy may focus on eliminating redundancy in talent, functions or locations. Any transformation has to address the digital changes needed to support the physical changes. With today’s hybrid models, the transformation strategy must enable employees to work anytime, anywhere, seamlessly and efficiently. Productivity should be location-agnostic, ensuring employees have the same access to tools, technologies and resources whether working on-site or remotely.
How is transformation mapped and measured?
Effective transformation requires the right mix of metrics and tactics. Leadership must work with stakeholders to set goals, establish measures of success and target the tactics to reach them. Four key areas require special focus:
- Data and analytics. Ramping up data collection and analytics helps identify pain points, show where to spend time and resources and back up wins with proof points. Analytics leaders must have advanced tools to collect, store and transform data into insights that drive decisions and deliver value.
- Strategic partnerships. Leadership should choose business partners who fill a gap in the company’s resources and strengthen its work processes. The synergies will enable better client service and pave the way for growth.
- Talent and teams. Talent leaders should assess the capabilities and performance of managers and teams. Do they have the right people in the right place to meet objectives? Do they have the resources and processes to be productive and effective? Can they work consistently across different environments? And are they equipped to handle change?
- Company culture. Cultural transformation changes how people work together. It brings new behaviors, team norms, leadership styles and values. Together these cultural changes will help tasks and work processes flow more easily among teams.
Where does real estate come in?
Empowering people and organizations to deliver the best results for their customers is the endgame, and success can only happen with the right space to support it. CRE leaders are ideally positioned to align people, process and portfolio in a radically changed work model.
Hybrid work has been around for a long time, but post-pandemic, the model has gone from novel to normal. How much space is needed now and what kind? Answers must look beyond square feet and floor plans. The company culture needs to make both remote and on-site employees feel included. Technology must let employees work productively, wherever they are and whatever their work style. And the workplace experience must enliven the space and engage people if return-to-office strategies are to gain traction.
Arriving at the right space for the right purpose cannot be left to guesswork, and space programs that served well for decades are out of sync with today’s challenges. Instead, workplace planners are tapping smart building tools like sensors and trackers to show how spaces and resources are used, guiding future plans and spending.
What is the CRE executive’s role?
CRE executives are now at the center of change. Increasingly, they are in charge of aligning company leadership to transformation goals and building consensus around strategies to:
- Reduce portfolio costs while optimizing “me” and “we” space for individual and team work
- Retain employees and support their productivity
- Grow capabilities that can adapt to evolving company goals
- Shift the culture to create new team and organizational norms
- Foster day-to-day collaboration
- Provide the skills and tools teams need to innovate and compete
When is it time for transformation?
Most organizations approach change ad hoc; however, piecemeal change will only move the needle so far. When is the right time for true transformation? Finding the answer is like going for an annual physical. Just as healthcare providers look at a gamut of wellness metrics, CBRE’s Organizational Health Assessment examines key indicators of a company’s wellbeing. With a blend of leader and team surveys, debrief conversations and on-site workshops, consultants:
- Examine the organization’s strengths
- Look for potential growth areas
- Probe its fitness to meet business goals
- Check leadership’s alignment to the transformation goals
- Explore how culture and change can enable business outcomes
This analysis cuts to the core of how a company satisfies its customers and helps point the way to an actionable strategy for meeting business challenges and industry changes.
What is the first step?
CBRE’s Organizational Change & Transformation experts can help build a strategic transformation game plan around a company’s strengths, challenges and goals. The process begins with a survey that guides stakeholders through a series of questions pointing the way to transformation.