The idea of ephemeralization or the ability to do “more and more with less and less” can be applied to corporate real estate. While any company can squeeze more people into fewer square feet, a few industries have unique opportunities to do more with less space. These rules of thumb also apply to departments within larger corporations as well as they do to firms that have these specific purposes. If you are one of these five business types, you may be able to minimize corporate real estate spending by scaling down your office space:
1. Law Firms
An image of a room filled with dark wood panels and leather-bound volumes of books that all look strangely similar still makes people think of a law firm. However, en suite law libraries are now obsolete, thanks to online legal publishers. Even if nothing else changes at a law firm, the ability to delete the space that was once dedicated to allowing attorneys to do legal research can significantly shrink the amount of space that a law firm needs. Ongoing advances in technology also allow attorneys to be more productive with less support staff, further reducing the amount of space they need.
2. Creative Firms
Creative firms are able to benefit from some of the same space savings as law firms, since their stock and research libraries can also be moved online. Newer and smaller machines also let creative firms shrink the size of their work areas. The changing nature of the creative workforce is also enabling many firms to engage in corporate real estate optimization. As collaboration levels increase, creative firms are able to add more shared workspaces and fewer private areas, eliminating the duplication that some firms of the past had when they created team rooms and private offices.
3. Sales Organizations
As more sales organizations push their outside sales people to live up to their titles, more and more desks and offices sit empty. The ability to more effectively manage employees in the field through CRM software and video conferencing makes it less important for sales reps to come into the office. This also means that sales offices need less space. Instead of having dedicated offices or cubes that sit empty most of the time, sales offices can be minimalized by offering ample small conference room space or open offices for sales reps that need the office to work or make calls.
4. Software Companies
While every industry has been impacted by outsourcing, offshoring and telecommuting, few are as directly impacted by these trends as software companies. For these businesses, corporate real estate optimization goes hand in hand with business process optimization. Decreasing office space has presents the unique opportunity to both cut costs and increase domestic worker retention by offering telecommuting for their employees.
5. Any Company Near an Executive Suite Space (or Starbucks)
Some environmentalists say that people should buy a car that will suit their needs 95 percent of the time instead of buying one that meets 100 percent of needs. In essence, this means that many working people would buy a subcompact car and rent a truck a few times a year. Whether or not it's good car buying advice, it's a great principle for corporate real estate optimization for any company. Have a space that suits most of your needs and, if you get a crush of people coming in, have an arrangement with a local executive suite space (or with a coffee shop) to rent overflow space by the day.
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Empty Boardroom image credit: Flikr user reynermedia
Open Office image credit: Flikr user carrotcreative