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Office space optimization for flexible workspaces

Office space optimization for flexible workspaces

Feb 20, 2024

6 mins read

Workspace Spend Management

According to a recent NPR report, over 20% of office spaces in the United States sitting empty. And the number is climbing, as is the pricing for office space per square foot, particularly for west coasters. 

With this in mind, many companies are transitioning their teams to hybrid-first offices and seeking alternative options to a pricey physical office space. By tapping into flexible workspaces, like on-demand coworking spaces, to help cut their expenses but still bring employees together for collaboration and connection, businesses can have the best of both worlds. 

But before they can determine whether they should keep their physical office space and restructure it, decrease the space, or get rid of it altogether, companies need to evaluate their office space optimization to determine the best approach. 

What is office space optimization? 

Office space optimization involves maximizing the efficiency and functionality of an office space to better support the needs of employees and the overall objectives of the company. Whether it’s through office space optimization software or other methods of evaluation, teams can get deeper visibility into how their current spaces are being used and the associated costs. 

What should companies consider during the office space optimization process? 

There are several factors that companies should consider, all of which contribute to evaluating the most effective use of the available office space and resources, as well as infrastructure. Once this is determined, businesses can then make an informed decision as to the level of their transition and whether keeping their physical office space, downsizing, or moving to a full flexible workspace model is the best approach. Here are 3 of the most important factors to consider:

How are the spaces being utilized? Many companies are discovering that their physical office spaces are not well equipped for the needs of their hybrid employees. With most doing individual tasks, like checking email or conducting 1:1 meetings, at home, that left group meetings and conferences, as well as collaborative brainstorming sessions for in-office days. And since many offices were not constructed in a way that allows for those types of communal activities, there’s a good chance that the physical offices are not adequately serving the needs of their team members. Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, CEO, Disaster Avoidance Experts, noted that many companies have not properly evaluated the way the actual physical office space is being utilized with their hybrid teams. 

Does the technology support the work? For some businesses, employees were required to work on company-issued desktops but then transitioned to laptops during the pandemic. With many companies instituting some variation of return-to-office policies, team leaders need to consider the effectiveness and cost of the equipment needed and how it’s being used when employees are in the office.  Many are not sitting at workstations anymore, but rather bring their laptops to meetings or sit with colleagues in open spaces for brainstorming or collaborative sessions. Additionally, unless all employees are in the same office on the same days at the same time, adjustments to conferencing technology will need to be made (and possibly at a very high cost) to accommodate employees who are working from home and need to connect with team members who are in the office. 

What do the employees need to succeed? While this might be hard to quantify, understanding what employees need to be successful in their office space is extremely important. However, companies have tapped into employee feedback methods, from anonymous surveys to dedicated Slack channels, to empower their employees to share their experiences so that the company can ensure that the spaces meet their needs. Ultimately, if employees are not able to do their jobs effectively due to space limitations, companies must be privy to that information so that they can make the necessary adjustments. But it’s not just about completing tasks; effective office space optimization allows for positive employee engagement and supports a positive workplace culture, something that can be challenging for teams that are often distributed and not in the office at the same time. 

How flexible workspaces can help

After conducting thorough and ongoing office space optimization evaluations, companies like Shutterstock are downsizing their physical office spaces and tapping into the power of flexible workspaces for their teams. Ashley Casey, Global Assistant Director of Workplace Experience & Operations, Shutterstock, shared her team’s approach to flexible workspaces for their global teams, combining their now four worldwide headquarters with flexible workspace options, from on-demand coworking spaces to hot desks. Through their partnership with Flexspace, Casey and her team were able to solidify flexible workspaces for teams that not only met their technological requirements but encouraged connection and collaboration with specific teams, all while cutting costs and positioning the company for success.

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