There has been a lot of hype about the death of the office, but the most likely scenario is that the years ahead will see central business districts remain vital, albeit with new rules of engagement.
As we detailed in our article hybrid working arrangements becoming the norm, almost 70% of people prefer to connect with people at a physical workplace1, and Australia’s Productivity Commission2 predicts that businesses will increasingly adopt a hybrid model mixing onsite and remote work.
Can you save money with a smaller space?
As the next few years unfold, your office space requirements will likely be dramatically different.
Traditionally, a typical professional services office with 80 staff may have allowed ~10m2 per person to provide a comfortable and productive workspace. However, if remote work means there are only ever 40 people in the office at any one time, this could dramatically change your floor space requirements.
While halving the amount of workers in the office won’t translate into needing half the space, it’s worth taking the time to calculate your optimal space and configuration to maximise your return on investment, optimise productivity and foster more flexibility around where and how your staff work.
Consider the nature of your business now and into the future
With more meetings and focused work being done remotely, you’ll need to reevaluate why people come to the office, and what tasks and activities they will do when there.
It differs per business, but at Vestra we’re talking to clients about larger meeting areas, more group workspaces and flexible collaborative areas, as well as a flexible breakout area with casual meeting zones and phone booth quiet areas for private calls and meetings.
Some forward-thinking questions to ask yourself include:
- Will you need larger spaces for collaboration, team meetings or all-staff conferences?
- Are there enough private spaces for confidential meetings and/or focused quiet work?
- Do you need dedicated reception or waiting areas to comfortably welcome guests and clients?
- What multi-use spaces will you require for a remote workforce? Think breakout spaces, formal boardroom or server/print rooms.
- If you are reducing dedicated desks and offices, will you need extra secure lockers for staff?
The nature of your business will determine the requirements for your new space, with the additional layer of forecasting the longer term policies around working in the office and from home.
Related reading: How long does an office fitout take?
Assess the changing make-up of your workforce
While working from home doesn’t suit everyone, it’s fair to say that many people have embraced it wholeheartedly. This will mean that workers increasingly desire (and expect!) flexible working arrangements which may include part-time hours, 4-day workweeks or freelance arrangements.
With the competition for talent expected to increase, attracting and retaining staff will require new practices to accommodate people that alter the composition of your workforce.
Workforce questions to consider include:
- Do you have a high ratio of part time staff? Will you need to allow for more?
- Given flexibility around location, will each person require their own desk?
- How many staff do you expect to be in the office at any one time today, and as you grow?
- Do you have the processes, technology, and security, to cater for both working remotely and in the office?
A typical commercial office lease is for at least three years, so it is important to consider how much space you might need in the future as your business grows. If you are planning on growing or expanding your business, you’ll need to factor in extra space.
Ideas for maximising your office space
Even if you’re not relocating or downsizing your office space, undertaking a workplace strategy review can be a valuable way to maximise the use of your existing space in the new normal.
At Vestra we work through a detailed strategy and consulting process to design a layout that matches your needs, but there are lots of innovative ideas and quick wins to consider. For example, here are a couple of thought starters we’ve used in recent projects.
- Build in the ability to easily reconfigure areas with moveable walls, doors, dividers and furniture to create lots of options.
- Free up space by reducing private desk spaces and give each person a secure locker or tote box to store personal belongings at the office.
- If your main boardroom will now only be used a few times a year, consider repurposing this space and renting a large space when you need it for all-staff gatherings and major meetings.
- Incorporate your reception into the main office space rather than having a separate area to make better use of space and avoid having an isolated receptionist.
- Breakout spaces can be created as multi-purpose areas not only for meals but also a flexible communal space creating that bump zone for informal meetings and team announcements.
Need help assessing how much office space you need?
If the process of calculating exactly how much office space you need and working out the best office layout for your business sounds daunting, it can be a good idea to use a workplace strategist to help.
As specialists in planning, designing and fitting out commercial interiors in and around Sydney’s CBD, our expert designers create stunning spaces with intuitive functionality built in. With a highly collaborative design process, we work with you to bring your vision to life.
Please contact us for an obligation-free chat about how we can help match you to your ideal workspace.