As companies continue to grow and employ more people, property costs also continue to rise. One of the biggest challenges faced by many organisations is how to make optimum use of their existing office space.
Feeling as though they’re bursting at the seams, many companies perceive that the only option is to take on more office space. However, with the extra space comes additional cost, management and communication issues that more often than not have a negative impact on the overall business performance and productivity.
Having worked with many companies that have faced this challenge, we are confident that in most cases, organisations do not need to take on any more office space and in some circumstances could actually benefit from downsizing. Maximising your office space, without incurring additional property costs comes with taking a good look at how the office space is currently being used and re-assessing how it may be utilised moving forward.
Last week’s blog discussed the benefits of space utilisation audits and this blog continues with that theme, delving into more detail about how organisations can maximise the use of their available office space and fit more employees into the same space, without the need to incur the added costs of taking on more property.
A space utilisation audit will very quickly and easily identify where office space is currently being underutilised. The audit takes into account all areas within your current property, from the working floor to meeting spaces, storage, and refreshment areas. All too often, we find that desk space is vacant for 40% of the working day, meeting rooms are not utilised as efficiently as they should be, with larger meeting rooms for up to 8 people barely occupied or being used for 2-3 person meetings. Further to this, vast amounts of valuable office space are often being allocated to departmental and personal storage.
A fresh approach to desk allocation, meetings and addressing storage policies can free up more space than you may initially imagine.
If your company still operates with an allocated desk policy, then you may find that this valuable space is unoccupied for up to 40% of the day. The unoccupied space is often due to holidays, illness, meetings or working away from the office. However, when the employee who occupies that desk is not sitting at it, then the space is not being utilised efficiently. Inefficient use of desk space can be overcome by introducing smart or agile working practices, which removes the specific allocation of desks to any single individual. Of course, this may work for some departments better than others and will almost certainly mean a cultural and behavioural change throughout the entire business, which can take time to plan, implement and embed.
Thankfully, there are other solutions that you can implement faster, which can act as a stepping stone to adopting a full smart or agile working space. Such solutions include:
- Revisiting the overall space planning of your office to make the space work more efficiently, this could include reducing aisle sizes, desk sizes, filing and storage.
- Ensuring that the furniture used is fit for purpose and optimised for the space available.
- Allocating a selection of desk spaces for hot or touchdown desking for employees who do not occupy their desk space regularly, or more than 50% of the time.
Most traditional offices have dedicated, formal meeting rooms that cater for either 3-4 or 6-8 persons. Meeting spaces can take up a substantial amount of space and are often not fully utilised throughout the working day. Research by AWA suggests that only 39% of meeting rooms are used for the time they are available and as little as 19% of the meeting room capacity is used.
Rethinking the space allocated to meeting rooms and redesigning the space to cater for smaller, transient meetings will result in the meeting space being better utilised. In our experience, meeting space is better utilised if there is a variety of meeting options available, including, huddle spaces, 121 meeting pods, and informal meeting areas. Offering a broader and more flexible variety of meeting and collaboration spaces will not only make better use of the space allocated to meetings, but also ensure the space is better and more frequently utilised.
The biggest contributor to office storage is our dependency on paper. We all know of the environmental importance of reducing paper utilisation within the office, however, many organisations still have huge paper filing and storage issues to tackle. If space is an issue for your business, then addressing your filing and storage policies will undoubtedly help you to address this. Adopting online processes, introducing paper and storage guidelines for employees and reducing storage availability will free up more valuable office space to be used more effectively and efficiently.
As space planning and office design consultants, we are available to help you ensure that you are maximising the potential of the office space you have, without incurring the additional costs of moving or taking on more property.
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