It started so well!
The year started with such a promising outlook – for the first time in years there was a degree of political certainty and there was a renewed resolve – for better or for worse – to implement the result of the 2016 referendum and move on. For the team at SBM we had just finished coordinating the disposal of a chemical plant in Buenos Aires and closer to home, we had overseen the acquisition of a 76,000 national distribution centre for one of our clients.
The short term future was looking promising.
Collaboration not work
The removal of our business and personal freedoms has been yet another challenge to be met, dealt with and overcome. One of the hallmarks of success in business is the ability to be proactive in the face of ever changing circumstances and situations. More than ever before, we understood that anything not working well just fell away and what was working well, worked better than ever. I increasingly saw the office as a place to collaborate which actually confirmed what we had already been doing for some time.
The telephone came to the fore during the first lockdown and we made a resolution to contact all our clients – a mission that was as fun as it was insightful. We had conversations with over 500 CFO’s and CEO’s over a three-month period which was interspersed with a tremendous offer from Ocean Outdoor to use its digital billboards across the UK to advertise our brand.
We also enjoyed hours of conversations with executives and leaders in their field – talking with people who you’d be lucky to get five minutes with in between flights during normal times.
New technology and meeting people
Teams and Zoom worked well enough but left only a limited impression.The most memorable and best parts of the year were the times when we were back doing what we do best – presenting property solutions in person, meeting people and clients.
My first proper tour was to visit all our team members at their homes for a catch up ‘over the fence’, then onto client meetings in their back gardens to discuss how we could help them cut the cost of their real estate.
‘We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us’ said Winston Churchill in 1943 during discussions about the rebuilding of the House of Commons chamber which was destroyed during the Blitz. As an experiment, the SBM team had a brief and very safe escape putting the ‘I can work from anywhere’ theory into practise. We briefly left the UK and reaped the benefits. We were more productive than ever and a new vision and strategy emerged to support our truly fantastic clients.
What’s going to happen to all those offices?
I believe they will be filled and re-commissioned as collaboration centres. In other words, they will be part of the new way of working that embodies the best of both worlds – the flexibility to work remotely and the option to work together collaboratively in a common space.
Collaboration centres – financial benefits.
This new approach also delivers financial benefits too.
By providing collaboration centres for 2-4 days per week for all staff, only 60% of the current floor area is required.
For example, relocating from a 5,000 sq ft office in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, where occupational costs over five years might be £1.5m, to a 3,000 sq ft space with a competitive financial package (with dilapidations and fit out costs included) would generate a saving of £500k.
Looking towards 2021
We believe the future is positive and exciting that offers something new and different. We have to take stock but we also have to look ahead and embrace new ways of working.
On behalf of everyone at SBM, I wish you a Happy Christmas and look forward to helping make your space fit for an uplifting 2021.
Published: 16th December 2020