At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, BDO quickly adapted to a remote working model. At this stage, they formed a committee to strategize a plan for the future of their 150+ offices. Jim Krahn, BDO Canada’s Alberta Office Managing Partner, sits on the Office Reset Task Force that addresses challenges related to rolling out a hybrid work model.
BDO did not continue the remote arrangement because their physical offices are integral to their business. The dispersed locations across Canada allow BDO to gain exposure to many different types of businesses, and in turn, provide more value to their local customers. In addition, Krahn notes that a defining element of the employee journey at BDO is the ability for new grads to informally interact with and learn from their colleagues at the office. This kind of exposure did not translate remotely. Hybrid work was the clear choice to preserve BDO’s company culture. The challenge was rolling out a hybrid model that keeps staff safe, and encourages employees to collaborate in-person.
At first, BDO tried several in-house solutions – everything from paper-based sign-in forms, to spreadsheets, to writing their own code. Running their own solution became quite onerous and heavily reliant on internal resources. Additionally, the facilities department needed a more sustainable and practical way to manage the office. At BDO’s Calgary location, for example, staff were responsible for deep cleaning the entire 45,000 square foot space, and did not have the ability to pin-point areas used. The Office Reset Task Force identified the need to outsource a workplace management solution to ensure an efficient and safe hybrid office.
To guide their search for a suitable vendor, BDO identified their necessary requirements. It was challenging to find a solution that was well-suited to both large and small office environments, nimble enough to adjust to changing public health guidance, and equipped with contact tracing in the event of an outbreak.
BDO’s decision came down to four key factors:
“We have a rigorous process to ensure the application satisfies our security requirements. A lot of smaller, newer software companies don’t have the rigor or the standards to meet our security protocols. That eliminated other vendors who weren’t equipped to be compatible with our systems.”
Alberta Office Managing Partner, BDO Canada, LLP
BDO took a phased approach to the Nspace rollout. They intentionally started with their largest offices. These locations presented the greatest logistical challenges in terms of inviting employees back to the office and gaining an understanding of office usage.
The first implementation, BDO’s Calgary office, took around four weeks from start to finish. BDO then improved efficiency for subsequent implementations by focusing on training superusers for each site. Krahn notes: “we learned a lot by just picking one. If we had picked five right away, we would have made the same mistakes across all five. Now, the implementations go like clockwork.”
BDO’s partnership with Nspace gives Krahn and his team valuable insight into their office utilization. “We learn how many people are coming in, where they’re booking, and how they’re using the space.” In addition, Nspace offers the opportunity to analyze no-show data. The BDO team has a complete picture of how their office space is actually used. As BDO enters the next phase of their hybrid work model, they look forward to making long-term decisions about their physical offices with the analytics provided by Nspace.