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Updated 30 Mar 2020

Optimise your work space

Keep your costs down and get the most from your office space with these hot tips.

Kerry Tangney, Entrepreneur, 19 July 2012  Share  0 comments  Print

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Considering the rental cost of premises or office space is one of the largest monthly expenses of most business concerns, it makes sense to ensure you get the best possible efficiency out of every square metre that you’re paying for.

Here are a few space saving tips to help you make the most of your office space.

Go Open Plan:

This is a highly debated topic but the practice is slowly being adopted across the board in most corporate environments. The way we work has changed. Technology allows us to work faster and more efficiently and, as a result, we are constantly on the move and there’s a new-found urgency in our need to get feedback and information, particularly from each other, as quickly as possible.

An open plan environment not only supports instant and constant communication between staff, it also helps to maintain a dynamic and involved environment.

There are no walls to hide behind, no closed doors or locked offices…open and clear communication is promoted at all times.

But probably the most beneficial aspect of going open plan is the potential saving in floor space. Depending on the size and configuration of desks, you can get your sqm floor space per person down to 6 sqm versus the traditional 12 sqm office. That could equal a substantial reduction in your monthly rental costs.

Hot Desks:

Further to the point made earlier regarding how the way we work has changed, the use of hot desking is yet another way to reduce your required floor space. This may not work for all staff members, particularly those who are office bound…but if your workforce is out on the road for most of the day then hot desking is a great way to reduce your required floor space.

With hot desking, no staff member is allocated a specific desk. A few desks are made available for any staff member to use when they happen to need a space for a few hours to do computer based work; otherwise staff members are encouraged to work from home or on the run.

This not only reduces your office equipment and furniture costs, it also encourages staff to cut down on their paper use and reduces the need for unnecessary filing space.

Each staff member can be allocated their own mobile (on wheels) lockable pedestal unit. This can be used to lock their valuables away, store personal stationery etc. When not in use, these can be parked in an allocated area. When required, the staff member will simply collect their dedicated pedestal and wheel it over to their chosen desk for the day.

Another idea is to have upholstered cushioned seats on top of the mobile pedestals. These can serve the function as a visitor’s chair at the employee’s desk. This replaces the need for purchasing additional chairs.

Quiet Rooms:

These are small rooms, preferably with glass walls to promote natural light and the feeling of ‘open-ness’ that an open plan environment generates, that can be furnished with a small meeting table and chairs. Network, telephone and power connections must be available.

These rooms then serve a dual function, as a standard meeting room but also as a short-term office.

That way, if an employee has a private call they need to take or sensitive work material that they need to deal with; they can pre-book and use one of these quiet rooms for a few hours.

Bulk Filing or Basement Storage:

If you have the type of company that requires a lot of filing storage then there are 2 options that you can consider to save on floor space:

If you need to store the type of documents that are accessed regularly then the use of a bulk filing unit can be hugely space saving. The average 1500 high roller door shelving cupboard can store approximately 3.5 linear metres of lever arch file storage per cupboard. A full height bulk filer can store approximately 8 linear metres per bay. That’s more than double!

While the initial cost of a bulk filing unit can be quite high, this cost is easily balanced out when you consider what your monthly savings could be on rental space?

The second option is if you are obliged to keep files and information for a certain period of time, yet these items don’t need to be accessed on a daily basis. If this is the case for you, then why not consider a basement storage room? Rental costs per sqm in a basement space are far less than actual commercial office floor space.

Standing Meeting Rooms:

It may sound odd but how many times a day do you attend an internal meeting that was originally booked in your diary for an hour, yet it really only warranted a 15 minute discussion?

Why not consider installing one or two ‘standing’ meeting rooms. These rooms are for informal meetings and thus can be much smaller than traditional meeting rooms as they don’t require nearly as much furniture (another cost saving!).

All you might need is a small round bar table or countertop big enough to accommodate a laptop.

These rooms can then be labelled as ’15 minute’ rooms and may be booked out for this amount of time only. Not only does this idea save you on rentable space, it also encourages your staff to be more efficient with their time.

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About the author

Kerry Tangney, Entrepreneur

Kerry Tangney is a qualified interior designer with over eight years’ experience designing corporate office spaces. She has worked for numerous private space planning and design firms and currently heads up the design department within the Workspace Planning division of one of South Africa’s major banks. Part of her mandate is to remain at the forefront of current and future trends in workplace design and she has a keen interest in the emotional effects of spaces.

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