When your business is helping clients solve their commercial real estate needs, your workplace presents unique opportunities to showcase your expertise and live by your own best practices.
As a leader in commercial real estate services and investment management, JLL Pittsburgh knew that an innovative, high-performance workplace could contribute to their continued success. “Our rapid growth – increasing from 50 to more than 450 employees in just eight years – forced a ‘make do for now’ approach,” says JC Pelusi, regional managing director. As a result, their workplace was a maze of high-panel cubicles — more of an embarrassment than an asset.
“I used to meet clients at the Starbucks next door instead of bringing them in our old space,” confesses Dan Adamski, managing director of the JLL Pittsburgh office.
The former space did little to encourage the collaboration and innovation that was essential to the organization’s ongoing competitiveness and success. It also presented challenges for recruiting new talent and retaining employees. “Nowadays there’s increased competition for good people. They have multiple job offers…. If all things are even close to equal, they’re going to go with the company that offers a place where they want to work,” Adamski says.
Clearly, the time to revitalize the JLL Pittsburgh office was overdue, and in May 2016 the company made a bold move: relocating to a 55,000-square-foot space to become the anchor tenant of a newly developed mixed-use property that is part of the city‘s elite skyline overlooking historic Market Square. In so doing, they created an entirely new office environment that has transformed the ways their employees work and captivated clients.
Before jumping into the design of their new facility, JLL leaders wanted to better understand how work was currently happening in their organization and identify strategies for shifting toward improved, more productive experiences in the new space. At the same time, they wanted to reinforce their standing as a JLL national operations hub while also managing costs and efficiency to support future growth.
To achieve their ambitious goals, they engaged a team from Steelcase to understand user preferences and behaviors. Leveraging Steelcase’s proprietary collection of Workplace Tools+Resources, JLL leaders and employees participated in workshops, surveys and onsite observations at various stages of the project.
Engaging the Steelcase team was a pivotal step, says Project Manager Shelley Boyle, who normally delivers JLL project development services to Pittsburgh-area clients.
“In this instance, the client was the people I work with every day,” she notes. “Having the opportunity to work with Steelcase at the front-end planning stage of our project made it apparent that they do a lot of really good research and bring that knowledge to everything they do. It’s about a lot more than just putting people in chairs.”
Collecting and analyzing multiple sources of data yielded insights that helped Boyle and her team better understand JLL workplace needs and provided clear strategies for moving forward. Identifying key opportunities for increased effectiveness and resilience, the Steelcase team was also able to recommend spatial attributes that would support the project goals.
In particular, the data collected and analyzed uncovered a critical need for more settings for collaboration; nearly half of JLL employees reported that, although meeting and exchanging ideas was important to their work, they didn’t have adequate spaces to do so, resulting in a drain on their uptime for productive work. Conference rooms were large, even though most meetings involved just 2-3 people – a significant waste of real estate. In addition, a growing demand for videoconferencing with clients and offsite teammates was burdening already overscheduled conference rooms with those capabilities.