How to maximise your office space to accommodate your growing workforce
As your company grows and recruits more staff, it may feel necessary to relocate to bigger premises. Sometimes there’s no alternative, but often it’s possible to remain in your current location by implementing a few simple changes.
To discover ways to make the most out of your existing office space, we turned to the experts for advice:
Head of Marketing
Why put off an office move?
First and foremost, relocating an office can be costly.
Aside from the higher rental costs for bigger premises, you must also take into account the expense of removals, the cost of additional furniture and the downtime that invariably occurs during the changeover.
With this in mind, finding ways to extend the time your company spends in its current office can benefit everyone involved, as Warren Bricknell director at Dale Office confirms:
It’s very rare that some efficiency gain can’t be made in a space.
Work with your staff
As every successful company knows, happy staff are productive staff, and cramped, cluttered conditions are naturally going to bring about tensions within the workplace. Relocating, however, isn’t necessarily the answer.
In fact, in response to a survey asking: ‘What would concern you the most if your current office were to relocate to a bigger site?’ only 4% of office workers expressed any desire to move to bigger premises.
For many employees, the disruption of relocating doesn’t stop once the move is complete. Louisa Bainbridge, head of marketing of iGeolise, the creators of The TravelTime platform, explains:
“Changing the location of an office can affect an employee’s work-life balance positively or negatively. Many employees make big decisions—such as where they live or where their children go to school—based on where their existing office is located.”
So, before upping sticks, it may be advisable to take a closer look at your existing offices to make sure you’re using the space wisely—which can potentially extend the time you spend there.
Common space-wasting mistakes
Many office layouts don’t make the most of the available space. As Warren acknowledges, it’s often unnecessary items that take up room:
“Companies struggle for space because they’re cluttering their offices with 90s-style large workstations, not discarding obsolete storage units such as filing cabinets and cupboards, failing to discard—or at least drastically archive—files and accepting printed material from supply partners when everything is readily available online.”
Martine Robins, director at HR Dept, stresses the need for prioritising the essentials, namely the staff:
“It’s essential to make sure your office is fully fit for purpose so space is designed to accommodate people rather than furniture. If space is becoming an issue, look to archive/outsource anything that’s taking up too much of it, such as files. Ideally, encourage the mentality of having a ‘paperless’ office where possible.”
Martine also explains how forward planning can help a company adapt its workspace to meet its changing needs:
“Companies often only plan for a short time period by thinking ‘we have a space problem now so let’s fix it now’ without taking account of how the business will evolve. It’s important to make sure office space is flexible and reviewed regularly as part of the overall business strategy, thus enabling it to be reconfigured to accommodate more people.”
How flexible working can make the most of your existing space
One way to use all available space to its fullest is to implement flexible working, where employees can hot-desk, work remotely or in break-out areas. By reducing the need to provide one desk per person, you’re using the space much more efficiently.
Martine explains how this can benefit both staff and employers:
“For some industries and/or roles, the need to have face-to-face contact—in terms of physically being in the same office—is diminishing. With the increased use of technology enabling us to more easily connect with colleagues, this can affect what’s needed in terms of ‘bricks and mortar’. The rising cost of buildings, along with running costs and business rates, has given companies an opportunity to think about the best model for them.”
Having the right tools for the job
Lack of equipment—even seemingly small things such as available plug sockets—can make a task so much harder, not to mention test the patience of employees attempting to do their jobs. Warren believes this is a common issue:
“One of the major blockages to successful agile working within a space is power and connectivity away from the fixed desk. Be creative with solutions to enable this.”
Many older offices aren’t equipped with enough sockets to power the number of devices modern working requires. As a result, desks must be positioned near electrical outlets, leaving staff to rely on a tangle of socket rows to power their equipment.
Advances in technology allow much more flexibility, and smart power solutions—such as on-desk power modules, sockets built into soft furnishings and wireless charging hubs—can help you make the most of your office space.
Six simple changes to expand the workspace
- Rearrange the floor plan to best use available space—use on-desk plug sockets instead of relying on wall sockets.
- Remove clutter.
- Introduce break-out areas, hot-desking and remote working.
- Implement a paperless system to remove the need for printers and filing cabinets.
- Invest in smart storage systems for essentials.
- Replace large desks with more streamlined versions.
Simple changes will undoubtedly prolong the time you can stay in your current office. And, with a bit of careful planning, these space-saving measures can actually become investments for your future move, as Warren advises:
“Don’t gift the landlord—make sure you acquire equipment you can take with you.”
And when you can’t put off a move for a minute longer…
Read part two of our feature on ‘How to successfully relocate and future-proof your new office’.