Opinion – Enhancing your workplace with office space planning

Rachel Houghton, MD at Business Moves Group

By Rachel Houghton, MD at Business Moves Group

ENTERING summer, we’ve seen the relaxing of lockdown restrictions hit another major milestone, as our roadmap out of the pandemic progresses even further. Even as we adapt to our welcomed freedoms, one thing hasn’t changed – the debate about the future of the office.

Within months of the first lockdown, the BBC was considering how the office would look, discussing whether we’d even need one post-pandemic. However, as times progressed, there have been numerous other conversations and workplace discussions on the topic.

The future of the workplace is looking clearer with variations of hybrid working becoming the next step for the workplace. The Herald reported that 90% of employees would like to continue with some element of working from home and over 40% of organisations recorded a rise in productivity from their remote employees.

However, no matter how a business chooses to manage its workplace, office space planning will be absolutely vital in attracting people back and ensuring they’re both happy and productive.

The importance of office space planning

Office space planning is crucial to fitting people, furniture, equipment and resources into a workspace. The challenge now is creating a space that works for employees that have higher expectations of the workplace.

This year, over 1000 civil service jobs relocated to Scotland. The government would’ve had to plan carefully, especially for a move of this size and scope. It’s unrealistic for everyone to settle into the workplace comfortably and instantly function with maximum productivity. Therefore, It’s important planning is treated as a priority and measures are put into place to support employees working desires. This means altering the office space for collaboration and socialising, as well as more space for quiet, focused work. Employees need a space that they can be productive in; without that, they may choose to continue remote working.

Meeting expectations with office space planning

People’s demands of the workplace have forever changed, and businesses must take into consideration employee expectations when planning their workplace. The benefits of an optimised space include enhanced communication between teams and departments, more productive employees, and being able to accommodate future growth. There are financial benefits too, as thoughtful planning can save on floor space and reduce rental costs.

Failing to enhance the workplace by meeting office space expectations will see a drop in employee happiness and productivity. Organisations may find difficulties with talent attraction and retention, forcing a struggle to convince employees to return to the office on a more regular basis. This is true regardless of business size, sector, and current real estate portfolio.

Office space planning also has a financial benefit. We may see corporates that now have vast amounts of empty space, even after adding more communal areas. They may choose to sublet space to SMEs and start-ups in their sector. In addition to the financial gain, this provides an opportunity to learn from and collaborate with exciting new companies.

Steps to take when planning the office space

It’s worth planning now for workplace optimisation even if the office is still closed or at low occupancy – other companies will, and you don’t want to be left behind.

Start with an analysis of the space. This should include surveys to determine employee preferences, research into the frequency that different spaces are used and mapping out of how many people will be in the space on an average day.

This will all help answering the key question – what is the purpose of your workplace? That should remain at the forefront of all planning and implementation to ensure a successful project.

Once the project gets underway, it may be practical to bring a suitable consultant or office space planning company on board – the investment is often paid back many times over through the results to employee happiness, wellbeing, and productivity.

In a perfect world, all this groundwork would’ve been carried out earlier this year and businesses will be close to being able to make changes. Yet, it’s important to know that it’s never too late to start, especially with the benefits on offer from an optimised workplace. This is a workplace revolution and business leaders should enjoy the process.

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