By Anne K. Cabral
Do you need different office space? Do you have too much? Too little? Has the COVID-age of remote working affected how much space you need? Will the increase in tech production affect your workforce?
You work in your office every day and have grown accustomed to it. If you’re not sure about your office needs, this may be the perfect time for an office utilization assessment.
Here are signs to look for:
You’ve outgrown the space. Do desks seem to be stacked up on top of each other? Are conference rooms crowded? Are meetings scheduled outside the office to get into a less cramped environment? These are the most obvious signs that it’s time to get a bigger space.
An overcrowded office can affect your employees’ morale and effectiveness and contribute to building a negative work environment. Feeling like a bunch of sardines crammed into too small a space will only frustrate them.
A minimum of 140 square feet per employee is a good guideline. So, if you don’t meet that, then it’s time to move. Here are a couple of ways to realize whether you are running low on space:
• Sick days are up. Germs spread like crazy in close quarters.
• Productivity is down. They’re easily distracted.
• More employee conflicts and complaints. Like siblings sharing a room, employees sharing close space leads to bickering.
• Meeting rooms are constantly booked up or people are standing during meetings.
• Your turnover rate is higher than years past.
Your company is paying a landlord for space it doesn’t use.
Have your employees shifted to working remotely? Are you paying for office space that you aren’t using? Downsizing can help a business when it’s right.
Companies cut back or shift to remote positions all the time, especially recently. It’s normal and part of everyday business. Unless you plan on adding more people, it is a waste of money to have space that you’re not using.
Note that moving into a space that is too big, but you own it, is completely different than paying a landlord for space. You have options on what you can do with extra space when you own it, most notably renting it out. This may be an option worth looking into.
Your interior design needs to be reworked. Your office layout isn’t working. But moving may not be necessary. Perhaps a redesign will do the trick. A bunch of isolated cubicles may not be the best for your staff. They may respond better to working in an open space.
It could also be the other way around. If employees lack privacy, they may be better suited or prefer cubicles or solo offices. A redesign will create the best layout for your company and your employees’ work style.
If you lease, this is a good time to consider buying your own property. Spending your money on tenant improvements (redesign/renovations) only increases the landlord’s property value. When you own it, that money goes to you and your company’s pockets.
Parking is sparse and traffic is heavy. How much parking is there every day? Do you avoid prospective clients coming to your office because it takes a while to find parking? What is the commute like for your employees? Is the location inconvenient or is there always heavy traffic causing frustration before they’ve even arrived at work?
These factors influence well-being, morale, and productivity.
You need to impress more clients. Meeting in a crowded, run-down, or unimpressive conference room doesn’t do much for prospective clients. Clients should come into your office and have an amazing first impression. If your office looks out of date, it could hinder you.
A clearly outdated office may lead clients to think you are behind the times. They may find out later that it’s not true (if they stick around long enough), but that could be their first impression. Offices with modern features and updates leave a great impression.
You aren’t attracting new talent (or retaining it). Not pulling in the high-level employees you used to? Your office space, amenities, and location may have a lot to do with this.
People want to work in a fun and energizing environment. They may want a new job where the amenities are up to date, the space is ample, and where they can depend on the location for a long period of time.
If they don’t see those things from your office, they may look for a place that does have that. Now more than ever, people are choosing workplaces with in-house amenities and areas to hang out in, in a convenient location.
Your company culture is trending south. Company culture can be affected by many things. Heavy traffic, little parking, small personal space, no common space, outdated structures, and few amenities are things that make people not want to come to work.
The opposite are things that make people want to go to work. A move, which remedies these problems, can change your culture.
You may need a culture change for other reasons. Maybe you had a massive turnover, and the new staff were introduced to bad working habits. For whatever reason, fixing it sooner than later is extremely important.
What better way to do that than to restart your culture in a new office that you have full control over? Sometimes a new start like that is all it takes. The physical environment you work in influences your company’s culture, and a positive, updated, fresh new office can translate that feeling into your culture and employee engagement.
These signs, indicating you need different office space, should be a springboard to your office utilization assessment, which is an investment for your company.