What to factor into space calculations

Your office space decision will impact your employees, clients and brand imageMohanad Alwadiya, CEO, Harbor Real Estate

If you are planning on expanding your business or relocating from your old office, the first major task at hand is determining how much office space you require. There are many considerations to be made as your new office space will have a direct effect on your staff morale and productivity, impressions made on your new or potential clients or visitors, and overall brand image.

When estimating space requirements, understand how you plan to arrange your employees to promote efficiency and productivity. Allocating space and configuring seating plans is very political, and egos within your staff can be either inflated or deflated depending on what you decide to do. So, tread carefully, and make sure you can justify every decision.

The easiest way to allocate work space is to do so on the basis of seniority requirements. For example, allocate an office for the president, VP, CEO, general manager, directors and anybody who deals with sensitive information such as personnel managers or legal staff. The offices should range from 40 square metres for presidents, 25 square metres for VPs to 15 square metres for general managers. These sizes will vary according to business size and type, and you may find that many larger corporations actually have guidelines as to what positions within the company warrant an office.

Cubicles or workstations tend to be of a more uniform size except where the organisation employs team leaders or supervisors. Employees like secretaries, customer service reps, accountants, programmers, data entry clerks and engineers require around 12 to 15 square metres, depending on document storage requirements and desktop hardware such as computer screens, laptops, printers, scanners and telephones.

Estimating document storage is a critical factor. While every employee probably requires his own document filing cabinets, many businesses also need to provide for central file or document storage areas. This is one area where inefficiencies in data storage by employing digital storage capability can cost a company dearly by paying for what may be premium space to simply store files. Alternative solutions such as digital data or offsite warehouse storage should be explored.

There are many additional spatial requirements that also need to be considered. Reception areas depend on the number of receptionists employed and visitors received.

It always seems that there are never enough of conference and meeting rooms, and many companies have quite elaborate online booking systems for staff to reserve the room of their choice. A conference room should be 5 square metres with 2.5 square metres allowed for each seated person. A projection equipment, screens, conference tables and spare seating need to be factored in.

Depending on the amount of mail traffic expected, the mail room can be anywhere between 15 and 30 square metres. The process of distributing mail plays a large part in determining space requirements as systems utilising pigeon holes can be space intensive.

Lunch and break rooms are very important for employee morale and productivity as they promote teamwork and cross-functional dialogue. Provide a comfortable space by allocating at least 7 to 10 square metres plus 2.5 to 3 square metres per person seated.

Finally, do not get caught in the trap of outgrowing your premises halfway through the lease period. Calculate your future space requirements based on projected growth plan. While you may have unutilised areas in the initial period of the lease, this is far cheaper than having to either terminate a lease to relocate or have a second office situated in a different address.

Source: Freehold


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