As everyone knows in business, the only constant is change, and in an ever-changing environment it’s not just the practices of a business that evolve but the space in which they are undertaken too.
More staff, more equipment, new departments, new functions and new working practices are just some of the plethora of drivers for change in the workplace that have a direct impact on, and direct correlation with, the utilisation of space.
Its’ all too easy to identify that a workspace isn’t fit for purpose but that in itself doesn’t provide a solution but rather provides for two questions which need to be addressed in detail to arrive at a suitable way forward:
- What’s the overall goal of the business driving the proposed change(s) in workspace?
- Looking at each team/department within the business, what types of spaces do each of them require to function efficiently?
The above can, in part, be summarised as the macro and micro perspectives, respectively, and are essential considerations in shaping the way forward as a whole.
As mentioned above, for example, the main spur to change could be the need to recruit more staff which leads to various considerations around the space required to locate them and the impact additional workers will have on other workplace resources such as break-out and washroom facilities.
The immediate thought in this scenario tends to lean towards ‘more staff‘ = ‘more space required‘ = ‘larger premises‘: but this isn’t the only option. If many years in the business has taught us one thing, it’s that space is frequently under-utilised and that workplaces tend to grow ‘organically‘ over a number of years with new innovations and staffing requirements being incorporated on an ‘ad-hoc‘ basis. Whilst this is a perfectly normal progression for a business it does have a significant bearing on the answer as to whether new premises are required, along with the business disruption and costs involved in relocation, or whether a smarter use of the existing premises will enable the business to achieve its goal(s).
In order to answer the above question, a deeper analysis of the functioning of, and future needs of, the business is required. Using our example, a business needs to recruit more staff but to appreciate the impact that will have with respect to workspace, and whether or not that impact can be accommodated within existing premises, it’s essential to break-down the various parts of the business and look at where new staff would be absorbed into these parts.
Whilst not an exhaustive list, the spacial requirements of a business operation need to be studied both as separate entities (with their own specific requirements) but then this information needs to be fed-into a holistic approach whereby interaction between parts of the business are considered – do certain teams need to collaborate, do they share equipment, for example – with the following as some of the data that needs to be gathered:
- Which employees/teams need to collaborate and interact with each other?
- Which employees/teams need to utilise equipment: printers, copiers etc?
- What are the additional requirements for ancillary spaces such as toilet and breakout facilities?
- A projection on growth for the forthcoming 5 years: future flexibility where possible.
- Which employees/teams require privacy or cubicle offices as opposed to open-plan accommodation?
Approaching the project in this manner, should enable a useful set of data to be collected which provides the solution to the refurb/relocate issue and can provide the basis for the fit-out of the premises whichever approach is taken.
However, the key factor here is space planning: whilst the ‘we can just squeeze another desk in that corner‘ approach works well up to a point, as a business is expanding and adapting to change, over time any workspace will eventually reach a saturation point where the whole space requires restructuring from the ground-up as oppose to making minor adjustments as required.
Space planning in itself is a broad and specialist subject – you can read more about it here – and we would always urge employing a professional service to ensure that your workspace is utilised with maximum efficiency and that all legal and best-practice requirements are met. There are many consideration that a space planner will take into account but if you give some thought to the issues discussed above you will be well-prepared to provide the basic information to enable a space planner to complete their work.
To discuss restructuring and space planning for your workplace, please call us now on 01675 437 547.