Avison Young rolls out workplace strategy guide for future of work

22 October 2021 Consulting.ca 4 min. read
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Avison Young, a global commercial real estate services firm, has launched a new workplace strategy guide called “X Factor” within its consulting practice.

The pandemic emptied out office towers across the world. Knowledge work companies were forced to adopt widescale remote work on the fly. Those organizations didn’t collapse, and workers found out they enjoyed the flexibility of working from home – which affords the opportunity to eliminate commutes and exit Canada’s unaffordable metropolises.

The pandemic has made companies re-evaluate their office footprint and format. For many, reducing office space is an excellent way to free up cash in an economic recovery that has been uneven across industries. Many firms – including Deloitte Canada and PwC Canada – have announced formal hybrid work models with innovative new flex formats being piloted for their revamped office spaces. Others still, such as Shopify, are offering fully remote models.

In the end, it means less office space will be required for the many adopters of hybrid and remote work models. And that’s not to mention the accelerated hollowing out of retail space as the pandemic further drove the consumer shift to e-commerce.

Avison Young rolls out workplace strategy guide for future of work

This is not an ideal outcome for commercial real estate services firms like Avison Young (AY), and the pandemic-fueled downturn in commercial real estate likely prompted AY to launch its professional services offering in April 2020. The firm tapped Sheila Botting, a former Deloitte partner, to head the practice, which offers services spanning valuation, due diligence, feasibility studies, optimum use studies, and market studies. Avison Young subsequently bolstered its valuation offering with several senior hires, including Canada valuation leader Matthew McWatters.

The firm’s new X Factor offering will help organizations optimize their workplace strategy for a new era of work. For many, that will be some form of hybrid work.

“X Factor” refers to “that unique combination of options and opportunities that will maximize employee experience, productivity, and attraction and retention, all while future-proofing your strategy,” according to AY’s website.

An altered workplace strategy is more than just a way to cut down on expensive leases in the downtown core – it is a central part of an effective talent attraction and retention strategy. According to an April survey from EY Canada, 9 in 10 employees expect to work between two to three days remotely after the pandemic, with 54% likely to quit if they’re forced back to the office full-time. Generational membership is important in determining remote work preference, with millennials twice as likely to quit as boomers if they don’t receive remote work flexibility.

Employee preferences wouldn’t matter as much if they didn’t have leverage, but they do because of a tight labor market. Ramped up hiring plans and labor shortages in sectors such as technology mean that certain skilled workers have more suitors – and they’re evaluating the whole employment package. According to a recent Robert Half survey, the most coveted areas are flexible work schedules (75%) and remote work options (61%).

“Everyone understands that things have changed in the wake of the pandemic, but within this disruption are significant opportunities for the workplace to make progress on overdue structural changes,” said Sheila Botting, principal and president of Americas professional services at Avison Young. “Enhancing and evolving outdated paradigms is for everyone’s benefit. We’re guiding our clients on the new reality of how and where we work, which requires a new definition of workplace – one that is holistic and approaches the workplace as a dynamic ecosystem.”