What Really Matters When Optimizing Your Portfolio

This post is the sixth in a series exploring topics discussed in Perspectives, PDR’s workplace strategy leader-to-leader forum.

Portfolio Optimization

A company’s workplace real estate demands stay in a state of constant flux. Groups can grow, shrink, or even completely disappear.  This can create a tough challenge for even the savviest of planners.  Portfolio optimization is a commonly used process to help manage or even mitigate inefficiency in the amount of space a company holds.  Traditionally, the process involves analyzing leased versus owned space, critical date timelines, and forecasts of headcount – all in an effort to improve utilization rates or remove wasted space.

Some argue that portfolio optimization is just an exercise in balancing supply versus demand or even locating “prime locations”.  While these are definitely valuable and important exercises, they should not be the ONLY factors on which decisions are made.  Doing so misses the big opportunity of finding or even creating spaces that drive business impact.

The Shift:   Begin your portfolio with your people.   

Providing business groups with enough physical space is a standard concern.  Historically, most companies do their best to plan for the future but are often caught in a game of I NEED SOMETHING NOW!!  This reactionary approach really only scratches the surface, and does not provide long-term strategic opportunity.  Often it is more important to consider the right space rather than the amount of space. Like an iceberg whose visible peak is only a fraction of its true glacial mass, a real estate portfolio is made of much more than just a collection of buildings.  It requires an under-the-surface view to assess space requirements. The base of any company’s organizational “iceberg” is people.  Stakeholders, strategic partners, and even customers are essential elements of success, and should be considered in portfolio planning. The way these stakeholders think about and interact with a workplace environment is important because it influences everything that they do.  A workplace not only provides direct pathways to increased business success, e.g better technology and collaboration spaces, but also delivers indirect pathways such as feeling valued and being a part of something greater than oneself.   Whether it is tools, technology or any other combination of work-enabling elements, people are the common denominator to making it all work. It’s when the incorporation of the ‘people factor’ begins that a truly optimized Workplace Portfolio may be realized.

How to start:

Leadership can tap into this opportunity by focusing on bringing together stakeholder groups to understand the nature of their work and what challenges they face. Starting from the inside and working out, a deep understanding of identity and purpose is critical when deciding on what types of spaces are needed at any given point in time. A one-size fits all approach to workplace space is generally misguided. Armed with the proper insight, leadership can utilize the physical workspace more strategically, align space with business objectives, and leverage workplace portfolios to drive business impact. 

Are you a leader in your organization’s strategy for team effectiveness and innovation? Perspectives is a workplace strategy leader-to-leader forum, designed to spark a valuable exchange of ideas about the future of workplace strategy. Perspectives 2016 is set for August 31st and September 1st. The topic focus is Collegiate to Corporate: Workplace Insights from Learning Environments, and how we enable the next generation of problem solvers.

I invite a deeper discussion with your organization. If you are interested in Perspectives, please contact PDR.

Garner Pagel



As a Portfolio Planning and Decision Support Consultant, Garner collaborates with clients and internal PDR teams by developing and utilizing decision support tools to solve complex problems. From initial brainstorming to implementation, he brings thoughtful insight, guidance, and perspective. Garner presents Real Estate Portfolio utilization data to inform strategic planning and facilitate evidence-based decision making, by organizing and analyzing data, conducting research and summarizing results in a clear and concise way.