Erwin Chong, Head of Corporate Real Estate Strategy and Administration, DBS Bank

Erwin Chong, Head of Corporate Real Estate Strategy and Administration, DBS Bank


How do you ensure that your Workplace Transformation project works smoothly once you’ve put in the proper preparation? What challenges can a person expect? What are some unexpected challenges that might crop up?

Although thorough planning is essential for any workplace transformation initiative, making sure your project proceeds smoothly once it is underway is an entirely different matter altogether. Unforeseen developments and internal resistance can throw a wrench into the timeline, even putting the viability of the project in question. Agility, strong change management, and effective collaboration with stakeholders are critical at this stage. Measurement and evaluation can help you ensure that you’re leading your project to a successful outcome no matter what surprises come your way.


“Change is by far the hardest challenge in any
workplace transformation.”


Change is by far the biggest challenge in any workplace transformation. Trying to infuse change across one person, 10 people, or a whole organization is difficult. Typically, after a decision has been made by a few stakeholders (i.e. senior management) to pursue a workplace transformation project, most organizations then go back down the line and tell all the people who will be affected that they’ve made this decision to transform the workplace, and try to convince them that this is the best thing for them.

At DBS, we flip the process around. So even before a project is formalized, we form a small team of people including the leaders and users who are appointed as Change Champions to understand their needs, and co-create the solutions with them right up front. We work through the change program with them and try to get them to understand the reasons for it. We ask them questions like, “What are the cultural drivers you want to change?,” “What’s the transformation you  are hoping to achieve?” and, “Do you want to create a digital environment where you can connect with different people, or do you want to have a paperless office?”

Throughout this process, we sound more like management consultants rather than corporate real estate people. We focus more on the way people work than the actual workplace at this stage. By putting the change up front, we shift the change continuum so it’s in everybody’s minds earlier. When people have an ability to do this collaboration with us and cocreate the space, they feel that they are more in control. Instead of having us come in and sell them the change, they are part of the change.

This is an excerpt from 8 Experts on Workplace Transformation. The eBook was generously sponsored by Iron Mountain.