The United Nations

People & Organisations

The Issue

Changing the way the UN uses its space

The United Nations Secretariat (UN) recognised that it needed to make savings in how it used its space in New York to house more staff back in the main Secretariat Building and dispose of leaseholds throughout the city. Flexible working would not only be the answer but could potentially deliver operational benefits. However, the hierarchical link between space allocation and seniority had prevented it from succeeding.

Concerto, along with a New York-based global firm of architects, worked with the UN to prepare a business case for Flexible Working and present it to its Audit Committee for approval.

The Solution

A Compelling Case for Change

Experts in Best Practice in Flexible Working began vision sessions with delegates to understand the need for the UN, its role and how they as individuals and departments played their part in realising the UN Goals. This crucial step ensured sponsorship for the programme from the highest levels in the UN and a commitment to making it happen.

In addition to the vision, we engaged with leaders across a wide variety of departments within the UN to understand their local workstyles and cultures to help map out the supporting change programme that would be needed to accompany a refit of the remaining buildings.

We recommended that the UN adopted the UK Treasury 5 case Business Model as a tried-and-tested way of ensuring the programmes are thoroughly considered, including the strategic context, the options, the implementation approach, the way the programme should be managed and funded.

We built a migration plan that would see multiple moves across the New York Campus and culminate in a 20% saving to the UN.

The Outcome

Business case approved with recommendation for global roll out

The Audit Committee approved the business case and recommended the model should be deployed across all UN HQ stations.

Management, originally sceptical, recognised the value of flexible working and the choices that are available to them as well as staff.

Pilots have now been successfully deployed in New York and full deployment is on track to start in 2015.

Related case studies