Big property savings examples in digital workplace

This is the fourth in my series of posts showing examples of the savings organisations have made by shifting work to a digital workplace.  It draws on my previous posts on how you need to plan your strategy, governance, and management of content, tools, and services for a digital workplace.  This is essential to transform your intranet into a digital workplace.  The previous posts covered productivity savings, reduced absenteeism, and lower staff turnover.

I will be using examples from the Digital Workplace Group‘s report ‘What is the financial value of investing in digital working?‘ that show what organisations taking the right approach can achieve.  This example covers how less, better utilised, physical workspace can save large amounts of money and impact on your organisation’s financial bottom line.

How to make the savings

  • Transform the physical workplace into a digital workplace where employees can take advantage of its benefits.
  • Dedicated versus flexible workspace – do you need the same workspace every working day?
  • Reduce the number of buildings you need if more people are working at home or away from their dedicated workspace more often.
  • Increase occupancy rates by matching the workspace to the people who actually use it rather than have empty desks while people are working elsewhere.
  • Lower your costs by accurately forecasting your physical workspace needs based on trends in digital working.

What can be achieved

  • Traditional offices are expensive, inefficient, inflexible, and difficult to scale (particularly down).
  • About 60% of a company’s desks are vacant at any time.
  • The average business could save $2,500 to $5,000 a year in property and related costs for each half time teleworker.
  • Savings from real estate reduction through new ways of working programmes are making the headlines globally: Cisco ($1.1bn), BT (£60m), Deloitte ($30m),
    IBM ($450m), US Patent & Trademark Office ($19.8m), GlaxoSmithKline ($50m) and more.
  • Investment in the digital workplace is a prerequisite for enabling employees to work effectively while reducing office space.


  1. BT’s Agile Worker programme saves approximately £6,000 a year for every full-time homeworker at BT. In 2009, with 10,168 homeworker par ticipants, BT saved approximately £60m, largely based on reduced estate costs.
  2. On any given day, more than 115,000 IBM employees around the world work in a non-IBM office. 40% of the IBM workforce operates without a dedicated office space. The employee/desk ratio is currently 4:1, with plans to increase the ratio to 8:1 in field locations. IBM calculates that it saves $450m a year in reduced facility infrastructure and associated initiatives through agile working.
  3. By transforming its sales team from office based to mobile, YELL reduced its property costs by £1.5m ($2.5m) a year and drove efficiency through reduced downtime.
  4. Through its Global Workplace Initiative, HP has increased its office space utilisation from an average of less than 40% to nearly 80% in just three years. The ratio of employees to desks ranges from 2:1 to 20:1 and varies by job, location, and other factors.

There are more examples and details in ‘What is the financial value of investing in digital working.  My next post will cover the environmental benefits.

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