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The changing landscape of office space

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Collaboration. Efficiency. Flexibility. These are just a few of the buzz words used when companies describe their desired office space. Whether a company is moving or re-modeling, at some point they inevitably begin to re-assess how their office performs with regards to space and efficiency.

Changing technologies have allowed companies to reduce the amount of storage space needed, as well as diminish the work surface area required (no more large computer monitors), which has impacted the size of their work area. Many companies are also beginning to move toward a more collaborative work area, which drives an open office environment. Fewer executives are limiting themselves to enclosed offices, and find that situating themselves in workstations amongst their teams drives further innovation and productivity. With fewer offices, additional square footage for more employees becomes available. More people + less space = reduced rent and increased profit.

However, while all of this is progressive, there can be several challenges when adding more bodies to an office. Office space is designed with systems and structures. Therefore, many calculations come into play and drive the functional capacity of the actual building, including mechanics, structure, plumbing and parking. These systems are designed to meet a building code, which is a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety.

The primary reason for these building codes is to protect public health, safety and general welfare as it relates to the construction or occupancy of the building. These codes are governed by the local jurisdiction and are, in fact, law. When a building is constructed, the code determines the actual occupancy of the building which drives the construction and installation of the mechanical, structural and plumbing systems.

As occupancy increases in the building, modifications must be made to these systems to accommodate the changes; otherwise the systems will begin to fail. In other words, the HVAC will not work adequately, the number of restrooms will be insufficient and they will begin to back up, and the structure will fail. All of these scenarios are not ideal to face while occupying office space. Another consequence of increased occupancy relates to parking. When occupancy increases, parking spaces decrease. Employees begin to find it difficult to park and become delayed in arriving to work on-time. Absent or tardy employees do not increase productivity.

Though the consequences may seem dire, there is a tangible solution. Engage a project manager. Hiring a project manager early in the process to ensure that all of your objectives are met and communicated to all parties is essential because the most important part of developing a solution is communication.

Communicating with a future or existing landlord about office space plans will help mitigate any future problems. Great project managers bring the right team of people together to help develop alternate workplace strategies and thoughtful space planning, which can ultimately help save a company between 15 and 20 percent. With the assistance of a project manager, a solution can be reached by all parties that will not only benefit the office space, but also the relationship between the landlord and tenant.

-Submitted by Kellie Hill. Hill is Vice President, Project & Development Services at Cassidy Turley. She can be reached at 858.625.5231 or kellie.hill@cassidyturley.com. Cassidy Turley is a leading commercial real estate services provider with more than 3,500 professionals in more than 60 offices nationwide. The company represents a wide range of clients—from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, from local non-profits to major institutions. The firm completed transactions valued at $22 billion in 2011, manages 455 million square feet on behalf of institutional, corporate and private clients and supports more than 28,000 domestic corporate services locations. Cassidy Turley serves owners, investors and tenants with a full spectrum of integrated commercial real estate services—including capital markets, tenant representation, corporate services, project leasing, property management, project and development services, and research and consulting. Cassidy Turley enhances its global service delivery outside of North America through a partnership with GVA, giving clients access to commercial real estate professionals across the globe. Cassidy Turley provides regional real estate services with local market leader Cassidy Turley San Diego. The company’s dominant market presence includes more than 160 professionals and staff in five local offices and recorded more than $1.2 billion in transactions in 2011. For more information about Cassidy Turley San Diego, please visit cassidyturley.com/sandiego.

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