Adapting for Growth

Studio shot of a fish in bowl

Context

The 20-year lease of the head office of a provincial public agency, located in a large urban centre, with close proximity to public transit, was coming to an end, and a new home was needed for approximately 3,500 staff, serving over 100,000 annual client visitors. With little consideration to the true evolution of its needs (for example, moving from paper records to a paperless system), the organization initially leased contiguous space in a modern 30-floor office tower at a secure stable rental rate. Rapid staffing growth, legislated client visitor requirements and technology advancements disrupted the compatibility between the building's capacity to adapt to the organizational transformation, and the productive performance of the operations.

Insight

As the project manager on the team, Laura played a critical role in the situational assessment. Utilizing experts, the team evaluated the functionality of the building, and considered whether its long-term operations could be accommodated through a variety of facility retrofit options. It further assessed the needs of its clients. It was quickly determined that client access to the facility through public and private transit options, the nature and location of meetings and face-to-face interactions, and the impact of the volume of visitors to both the building site and the operations of the organization was deficient.

The key insight identified, based on an initial assessment of the functionality and standardization of the workspace, was that the building mechanical, electrical, computer and elevator systems to support the short and long-term operational needs of staff, and their travel patterns, was impacting productivity, efficiency and accessibility.

Idea

A comprehensive set of recommendations was developed that encouraged an alternative building location, with key parameters that included: an accessible location within the same large urban centre, easy access to public and private transit for its clients and staff, a flexible building system that could accommodate long-term changes in staff size, and stable rental rates for its tenancy.


Impact

The project team and professional advisors managed a comprehensive RFP process to explore, and ultimately secure a new facility, with a negotiable 20-year stable lease. A facilities management team was established with a mandate to retain professional legal, financial/investment, architecture design and contracting support, to secure and deliver the final move-ready space within the budget and timeframe for relocation. This facilities management team protected the interests of the organization throughout the negotiation process, and included considerations like offsite relocation of data storage, paper storage, and training and development facilities to mitigate risk and reduce costs. The move itself was also thoroughly organized, to ensure 3,500 employees received a comprehensive orientation and communication package, including education about the building's integrated public access to the city's underground PATH system, as the floor-by-floor relocation occurred over a 4-month timeframe, with zero downtime. In the end, the project experienced costs savings through increased productivity from facility functionality improvements, client service realignment, system efficiencies, the relocation of some functions offsite, and a long-term fixed-cost lease and investment in the building itself.