SHRINKING OFFICESPACE… SACRIFICE OR OPPORTUNITY?

The Corporate Workplace is changing. Economic volatility remains a top concern for 2013 and many Mississauga companies are looking at ways to reduce their overall space. By shifting to fewer private offices, to smaller individual workstations and incorporating more open/shared space for teaming, companies are able to reduce real estate costs while incorporating solutions to meet their additional workplace goals such as sustainability, new technologies and diversity.

“Our Clients are aware of changing employee demographics,” says Kathy van Brussel of Mississauga based Comley van Brussel Design. “They want to attract top talent and are using these new workplace strategies to create a positive work environment with less individual real estate”. But less space doesn’t need to feel small. Today’s innovative offices make the most of shrinking footprints to benefit both the office worker and the bottom line. Here are some tips for getting more out of less space.

REDUCE NUMBER OF DESKS:

Companies that really want to really reduce space are doing it by addressing the desk to employee ratio. For example, accompany with 100 employees could have only 60-80 assigned desks.1 How is this feasible? Because the reality is approximate 60% of a company’s desks are vacant at any one time, because workers are either on the road, working remotely or in meetings, according to CoreNet Global, Canada’s leading corporate real estate association.2

ADJUST FOR TECHNOLOGY:

Remember how big our computers used to be? A lot of people are still sitting at worksurfaces designed to hold those large, bulky computer monitors. Now that we have laptops and flat screens a lot of the worksurface is under-utilized. Accordingly, we can reduce the depth of worksurface, with no impact to the employee.

In this digital age we generate less paper so our filing needs have also gone down. Smaller storage units, strategically placed within workstations, are now feasible alongside shared meeting tables.

RETHINK WORKSPACE DESIGN:

Consider a standard private office of 10 x 15 sq.ft. with a swinging door. Simply replacing the swinging door with a sliding door saves approximately 9 sq.ft.3 Some meeting rooms have become “convertible” and can also be used as a private office.

Furniture with overlapping surfaces and under-surface storage make even more efficient use of space. This provides more storage capacity where you need it, like under your desk and not where you don’t need it, like behind your monitor. Use furniture that can multitask. For example, storage units can double as space dividers in a workstation, and cushions on top of file drawers accommodate visitors. As our workspaces continue to shrink, we should ask not “how can we get that space back” but how can we use the space we have to its greatest potential!

References:

  1. Sargent, Kay, IIDEX Cocreate Round Table Discussion, Toronto, September 2011
  2. Shevory, Kristina, “Office Work Space is Shrinking, but that’s Not All Bad”. The New York Times, January 19, 2011
  3. Fleming, Darren, The Trend of Shrinking Office Space http://www.cresapartners.com/ottawa/blog/2011/07/the-trend-of-shrinking-office