Old Way v. New Way in Workforce Planning

6 min readJul 8, 2021


Digitizing Location Selection for Strategic Decision Making

Rajeev Thakur, Head of Growth and Client Strategy

Filter your search and then compare each location by costs and quality. The above example comes from a broad filtering of Canada markets.

Where and how a company decides to hire talent and secure physical workspace is one of the most important, expensive and risk prone decisions a company can make. Yet, for many organizations, when selecting a new workplace location, they typically rely on a site selection consultant and manual processes. With substantial investment costs and many operational factors at stake, this way of doing business has become outdated and does not work anymore. Why? There are several key reasons, but first and foremost, the current procedures for informing decisions are costly, slow, and manual for both smaller and big companies, and do not allow for “what if” planning scenarios — which are critical to the decision-making process. For instance, usually, the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) or Head of Workplace will make 80% of these decisions on a continuous basis, but there will always be those 20% high-risk and non-linear decisions that require the intervention of a consultant. BeyondHQ enables business leaders to make the other 80% of decisions through a data-driven application that allows them to consider multiple scenarios.

The hub-spoke hiring model works well for high-growth companies that adopt a hybrid work environment.

Add to that, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated remote work for knowledge workers over the past year-plus, and has created new challenges for companies that are now grappling with the return to work and how to support remote v. on-site workforces. One key takeaway we have learned during the pandemic is that the hub-spoke hiring model works well for high-growth companies that adopt a hybrid work environment. In this context, the hub and spoke model means that instead of looking for one specific metro area for talent, HR managers look for a cluster of cities in close proximity that collectively work as a network of one hub and multiple spokes.

Where We Work is Changing

Talent is dispersing to new locations across the country, and workers are looking for opportunities that allow them to work remotely from places where they want to live. Companies need to contend with new social and economic trends, as well as the reality of the permanent hybrid work paradigm and talent expectations. For instance, according to PwC’s US Remote Work Survey — January 12, 2021, the primary purpose of an office according to company executives is to increase employee productivity. Employees, however, want to use the office for collaboration, accessing equipment, meetings, and training — basically, everything but productivity. This is possibly true because modern open offices are not the best environments for concentration and productivity. Workers have realized that they can work more productively remotely, but they still need the office for collaborative tasks, meetings, and access to specialized equipment.

From PwC’s US Remote Work Survey — January 12, 2021

In order to retain the best talent, companies need to listen to their employees. For many, staying remote or having some sort of hybrid arrangement is preferred. One only has to read about companies like Apple whose employees wrote in an open letter to CEO Tim Cook that they do not want to return to the office and threatened to quit if forced to do so. Additionally, according to Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey, 87% of respondents who have been working remotely during the pandemic would like to continue to do so, and 68% said the hybrid workplace model is ideal.

What does all this mean for site selection consulting? Instead of looking at just one location, we need to look at clusters, or multiple locations, and consider how these sites will be impacted by the different ways of working. Will there be co-working spaces in different locations, will employees primarily work remote, will there be a main company branded office?

As companies rethink their workforce and workspace needs, how they plan and select new locations must change — and that means they need a digitized process of site selection that allows for speed and autonomy of decision making.

The Old Way: Expensive and Slow

As a location strategy consultant, I have advised companies in finding new locations, and can say without doubt that the “old way” of conducting office selection is expensive and slow. For example, let’s say a company is looking for a new workplace location and decides to work with a consultant. Typically, in the old way, the process starts with a series of in-person meetings and interviews, which is followed by the consultant conducting research and gathering what data they can find. After a short list of preferred locations is identified and screened, the consultant then must visit the communities that are short-listed.

The “Old Way” — Head Office typists room, New Zealand Railways, 1959

In this scenario, let’s say the site consultant recommends three cities. The consultant needs to physically go to each city, survey other employers in the region, and meet with local officials. One visit could take a week allowing for travel time, so in the old way of doing business, just the process of visiting each recommended location can take up to three weeks. From there, a report with analysis and static data is submitted. Ultimately, in the old way of doing business, to make a decision can take several weeks or even months. And while visiting select locations will always be necessary for due diligence, with the right technology solutions, companies can strategically shorten the process by eliminating certain communities earlier on so that they can focus on two to three locations that are best suited for their needs.

The New Way: Digitizing Location Selection

As we have seen time and time again, the old way is not only expensive, but also lacks collaboration and real-time analytics. Companies need a digitized tool that offers data transparency, real-time insights, and the ability to collaborate. BeyondHQ does just that.

Primarily designed to address the significant challenges central to today’s dynamic hybrid work environments, BeyondHQ is the first real-time, user-driven, collaborative SaaS technology designed to help companies integrate their hiring and location planning processes in one centralized platform. By digitizing location selection, we enable companies to manage and optimize in real time the complexly interrelated questions of talent, real estate, and multiple locations that result from these new models of work.

The “New Way”

For example, we work with a technology unicorn in the transportation industry that has adopted the BeyondHQ Insights platform to make their location and talent acquisition decisions. With this particular company, the real estate team leads this effort but reports to the Chief HR Officer. BeyondHQ helps them to collaborate with their different business units and get their input on their headcount projections that translate into location and space related decisions. According to their Head of Workplace and Real Estate, using the BeyondHQ platform allows them to independently make these decisions in a very short period rather than relying on outside consultants and service providers.

Our platform provides a fast way to help companies decide where to open new locations, while also enabling unlimited scenario planning to eliminate escalating costs historically linked to working with outside consultants. By bringing responsibility inside the organization, the strategic planning process and its results are no longer tied to specific financial or real estate deals. Instead, companies can build and scale teams as they need and in response to today’s dynamic hybrid and Hub-Spoke-Node environments.

Want to learn more about making talent and location decisions as you consider new distributed Hub-Spoke-Node models of work? Visit BeyondHQ at www.beyondhq.co or contact the author at rajeev@beyondhq.co.




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