20th century organisations often succeeded by operating from a single location. Take the newspaper industry as an example. For journalists, Fleet Street in London was the centre of the universe. They would mingle and eavesdrop, returning to their offices with fresh gossip. Not only were their headquarters based on the street, but their printing facilities were located within a stone’s throw of their type writer. The Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph, and other household newspapers, operated almost entirely from a single street.
Times have changed. Rupert Murdoch led the exodus from Fleet Street by moving his printing presses for The Sun and The News of the World to Wapping in 1986. Other newspapers followed suit and their empty offices were soon filled by law firms, accountants and bankers.
Globalisation has forced organisations to consider where they do business from. Operating across multiple locations can present challenges to organisations which seek to maintain integration. They must question not only “where” to relocate, but “who” will make the move, “what” kind of space they seek, “how” they will support the transition and crucially – “why” they are making the move in the first place.
In this blog post, we explore five key challenges faced by organisations as they disaggregate their business.
- Will the disaggregation help to deliver your organisation’s strategy?
Your decision to disaggregate the business should support the strategic direction your organisation is taking. Short-term perspectives should not be drivers of change. Carefully considering your long-term business plan is a good first step to articulating why you have decided to drive change forward.
- What about your organisation’s cultural identity?
An organisation without a cultural identity is in danger of facing a retention crisis. A lack of cultural identity can result in a transient workforce, with top talent moving on as they are unable to develop a relationship with an anonymous brand. This can be avoided if employees can build a relationship with a strong brand and culture. An interesting example is Deloitte Digital. Located in a satellite office in Clerkenwell, London, the culture of this organisation is markedly different to that of the rest of Deloitte. Whilst Deloitte has allowed its Digital offer to develop its own cultural identity, this identity remains aligned to the core principles and brand of the wider firm. The relationship is viewed as mutually beneficial, with our Deloitte Digital centre of excellence quickly becoming the destination of choice for bright, creative, innovative minds.
- Have you considered all the location pull factors?
Working with clients who have recently disaggregated their business reveals that location decisions are often based on a single factor, for example, easier access to a new customer market. However, the location decision is rarely that simple. Organisations should also consider whether the location will provide value-for-money access to desired talent pools, key clients and transport infrastructure. Ultimately, it is essential that the relocation decision makes commercial sense.
- Who should relocate? What is the talent angle?
Organisational design and people analytics form the backbone of a successful relocation. As working habits shift increasingly towards project-based working, you should remain aware of how teams within your organisation collaborate now and in the future. This can help determine which teams should co-locate.
To identify these adjacencies, a structured approach to assess the functions within your organisation is required, overlaid with analysis of the available supply of talent across different locations.
- How will you use ways of working to maintain integration?
No generation in history has been better connected than the Millennials. By 2025, it is expected that Millennials will grow to represent 75% of the workforce. Deloitte’s Millennial Survey (2016) reveals that Millennials prefer to operate as a network of teams, with people enjoying lateral flexibility between teams and projects rather than remaining in static, formal configurations. It’s like a Hollywood movie set – experts come together to produce the movie, before being disbanded and moving on to the next challenge.
What might this preference mean for organisations who operate from a dispersed geographic footprint? Facilitating employees to work in a mobile way is crucial to create digital communities which can work together on projects. Gone are the days when the office was simply a space for computer desks. Activity based working calls for a variety of spaces including touch down spots, breakout areas and unallocated amenity space.
The discussion above reveals that disaggregating an organisation is not as simple as it may first seem. The topics highlighted are likely to represent only the tip of the iceberg. How will your organisation respond?
A blog post written by Michael Griffith and Jonathan Eley