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.