Time to improve the office
The feeling of being cluttered, contained, or suffocating in our work space. We experience this when we are placed in an environment in which we lack control and the breaking point of our comfort level is pushed to it’s limits. Unfortunately this is something many people experience in their workplace, especially if the business is in a state of transition and growth.
As businesses grow and more personnel are added into the workforce, a dilemma arises on whether to expand office space or accommodate growth into an existing space. As a design build contractor with many addition/renovation projects in our portfolio, we know that expanding office space isn’t something to be taken lightly.
If your business is only leasing an office, then it may be time to re-examine the lease, and look for a larger space. But if your business owns the property and building and are in need of more space, it may be wise to evaluate your use of office space before making the decision to invest capital into a renovation.
Here are 5 questions to assist with an audit your office space use and help decide whether you’re ready to invest in an office upgrade.
1. Do you have many individual offices rather than a non-dedicated office space?
A large space consumer in office buildings is the perception that everyone needs a private office. While this may be true for some companies, private offices are not a necessity. An easy way to open up space is to move towards a non-dedicated open office system that encourages more collaboration between employees.
Some personnel may require a dedicated office for sharing confidential information, providing clientele privacy, and inter staff meetings, but most will deal primarily un-confidential tasks. While each company will have varying privacy needs, these are basic starting points to consider how many dedicated offices are required.
2. Do you have managers in one area of the office?
This is a common misuse of office space, especially in medium sized businesses. In an office that uses larger amounts of square footage, whether it’s within a plant, or placed on multiple floors, the managers and higher ranking employees tend to have dedicated offices away from the majority of employees.
Do they need to be separate from the group of employees their managing? Saving space is about creating workflow, not segregation based on status. Keep open concept office space for the team members with a manager’s office in the middle of the floor, or space. This decreases travel between employees and their superior, and it encourages more of an “open door” policy with managers.
3. Do you maximize aesthetics in your office?
An office is no different from a factory, people work in their space, completing the task required for their position, and if they are setup properly they can complete it more efficiently. Office aesthetics tend to be viewed as a luxury for employees, and while you don’t need to be challenging Google’s standards of work environment, there should be an attempt to increase the efficiency through ergonomics and comfort.
Have an ergonomics specialist come in to setup employees desks and chairs for a more comfortable workspace, find a balance between natural and artificial light, and set the temperature to a comfortable level for all employees (72 degrees fahrenheit is an acceptable average).
4. Can you increase the amount of movement in your employees?
Finding a balance between sedentary work and movement can increase productivity for employees by expanding their brain activity with exercise, but can also help with a space constraint. Depending on the type of work that you do, and the amount of paper in your work, you may be able to encourage employees to work in smaller spaces.
Combine this with standing workstations that accommodate 4 people for open collaboration, smaller desks for serious personal work, and a conference room for large scale projects and meetings. This can keep employees moving from one station to another in a day, and decrease your space needs with more non-dedicated work space.
5. Can employees work from home?
This doesn’t seem like an ideal fix, especially for businesses that don’t typically allow employees to work from home. Working from home decreases the need for physical office space, and maybe having someone work from home entirely isn’t an option, but with the amount of connection in a workplace with IM, computer sharing and video conferences, it is not uncommon to begin trial runs of 1 day a week worked from home for some employees.
Some of these questions bring to light options that may challenge the typical operation of your business, but if you haven’t considered these thoughts before you will not know for sure if they are viable alternatives to an office renovation. However, sometimes offices are just outgrown.
Upgrades are needed in order to maintain operations, and the productivity and morale of your employees. Then it’s time to talk to a design build firm about your options in building expansion or renovation.