April 21, 2014 | Source: bizjournals.com

CBRE Inc. Hawaii decides to cut its Honolulu office space in half

CBRE Inc. Hawaii, one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the state, is cutting its office space in half at its headquarters in Downtown Honolulu, as part of a company-wide effort to support the way its employees work today and in the future.

The “Workplace 360” model, which is currently being constructed in one-half of CBRE’s office at Bishop Square’s Pauahi Tower in Downtown Honolulu, will be a 100 percent free-address environment, where no one has an assigned office or workstation.

CBRE’s 51 Honolulu employees have their choice of nine different ways of working, depending on their activity and needs, including height adjustable workstations, standard wrap-around desk workstations, huddle rooms, offices-for-a-day, focus rooms, conference rooms, open team areas, touchdown spaces and a RISE cafe in the heart of the office.

“We are staying on the current floor and we are currently working in the Diamond Head or east half of the floor, while the other side is being built out,” CBRE Inc. Hawaii Senior Managing Director Kim Lord told PBN. “When you work in the service industry [like us], you are out and about, spending a lot of time in the community, and with our employees, we have a lot of clients or CBRE employees from around the world that share our office space. It is constantly evolving and changing.”

Honolulu firms Group 70 International and J. Kadowaki are currently working on the design and renovation of the new space.

Anna Emerson, an associate with Group 70 International, told PBN that the project, which began construction about two weeks ago, should be completed in September.

“A big part of the Workplace 360 [model] is that you are encouraged to make it look local with art, textures and materials,” she said. “It also is branded to CBRE.”

Emily Neff, the program manager for CBRE’s internal workplace initiative, said that the company is rolling out Workplace 360 in offices where current leases are almost up.

“Hawaii’s lease was coming up and they decided to go through this project,” she told PBN. “Their space was not being utilized 100 percent [and] employees saw a great opportunity for many enhancements.”

Neff and her team came to Hawaii and spent a week analyzing workflow and processes.

They eventually found that 30 percent of the Honolulu employees are actually sitting and working in the office at one time, which meant that the balance were actually out with clients and at properties working as they should in a service-based industry.

The team then came up with three goals, which aimed to improve the way CBRE works, generate more business and to get more efficient with its square footage.

In terms of improving the way CBRE works, they decided to give every employee a laptop and a wireless headset.

“What we found out is that people wanted the ability to be mobile,” Neff said. “They wanted to take their laptop with them to their client’s site and move with them.”

Generating more business meant giving colleagues easier access to one another.

“They can work next to each other if they want to in the new office,” Neff said. “It’s much more activity-based in the nine different spaces to choose from.”

Using less square footage meant re-allocating that money saved to reinvest in their employees by buying those laptops and even beefing up its health and wellness programs.

Some of the wellness features in CBRE’s new space includes ergonomic furniture with sit/stand desks, stretch bands, yoga mats and exercise balls.

The office also will be adopting a paperless model by allowing employees to access digital files from anywhere.

“Having gone through this process ourselves, we are able to provide better workplace insights to our clients, not only with respect to the space design itself, but with the employee change management process, which we know from experience is a critical aspect to a successful implementation,” Lord said. “The pervasiveness of mobile technology has impacted every aspect of the way we do business today, creating the need for increased mobility and flexibility in workplace design and strategy.”

CBRE is planning to open a dozen more offices using alternative work strategy principles this year, including Chicago, Orlando, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

The Honolulu office will be one of two dozen offices using alternative workplace strategies around the world by the end of next year.