Whether you have a traditional closed floor plan office, a wide open undefined space or a hybrid of both, you still face the same need to optimize your office utilization. Getting more work done by more people in less space saves money and enables you to make the right real estate investments. Here are some tips that will work to squeeze more performance out of all of your locations, regardless of their layouts.
Assign By Need, Not Rank
Space and hierarchy don't mix anymore. Once, non-managerial workers occupied small cubes, middle managers occupied large cubes and small offices and senior managers occupied large offices. However, you can maximize your office utilization by assigning spaces based on people's need. A programmer might need a private space, while an executive that spends 70 percent of her time on the road might not need an office at all.
Design to Today's Technology (or Tomorrow's)
Regardless of your floor plan, your office probably has spaces that are designed to fit outmoded conceptions of the workplace. Do your workstations have enough room for a deep CRT monitor, a desk phone, a printer and files? Today, your workers probably don't need any of those things.
Instead, they need ample power and data outlets, and spaces that fit smaller technology. At the same time, they also need the ability to quickly collaborate with co-workers. This can lead to more tightly packed spaces -- whether cubes or offices -- letting you put more people per square feet.
Whether or not the office-less work environment pioneered by some technology companies was a good idea from a productivity perspective, it was a great one from the perspective of office utilization. The fewer people you have in the office, the fewer square feet of space each one needs.
Yahoo! and Best Buy gave up on their "work when you want, where you want policies." However, this doesn't mean that a little bit of telecommuting isn't a bad idea. Simply encouraging your employees to work remotely one day per week would let you squeeze 25 percent more workers in the same space -- and 25 percent better office utilization out of it.
Repurpose Unused Spaces
Just as you redesign work spaces to adapt to new technology, you can also do the same with your common areas. Libraries, copy rooms, storage areas and, in some offices, server rooms are all becoming obsolete. Turning them back into work spaces also increases your office utilization.
Follow the 95 Percent Rule
Finally, to create an office that will be utilized all of the time, don't build the office that meets 100 percent of your needs, 100 percent of the time, no matter what. Instead, seek out a design that is adequate for what you do 95 percent of the time. Instead of having a large auditorium for twice-a-year meetings, rent that space at a nearby hotel or conference facility. Given that your company is as likely to reduce headcount as grow it, building to fit your current space instead of for growth can also increase office utilization, no matter what happens.
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