Scenario Planning Tools Simplify Workplace Optimization
Creatively restructuring your lease or optimizing your office floor plans can lead to better outcomes than making a move.
Should we stay or should we go? Raise your hand if you’re a corporate real estate executive who’s asked that question before. As you review and re-evaluate different workspaces, you may wonder if staying in your current office will in fact be double the trouble of going elsewhere.
Why You Should Consider “Saving in Place”
Even though it may seem like your current space just is not working out (you’re growing or shrinking too much to justify the space, it’s underutilized more often since you adopted a more flexible work policy, or your current office floor plan no longer meets the needs of your restructured departments), you probably have more options to save in place than you think. Here’s why you should do that:
- You’re limited to your existing location due to ownership or an extended lease term. Owning the building means you can redesign the office building floor plans or consolidate your team to open a floor and find a tenant. If you lease, you may be able to negotiate for better lease terms or benefits, or work with your landlord to adjust your workspace to better meet your needs.
- You’re in a beneficial location. You may be paying a premium rate for a high-rise downtown or in an urban core, and lower rents in the suburbs look enticing. But consider this: Is your current location convenient to public transit, or close to where most of your employees live? Will they be burdened by the commute? Are you close to amenities that your employees value? Does your location make you attractive to prospects or give you access to a larger talent pool? Moving somewhere else might end up costing you in other ways (in addition to the actual move costs).
Ready to Save in Place? Get Informed
The first step when deciding how you’ll save in place is to get good data. Utilization software like Serraview’s can help you understand your current occupancy rates and usage patterns. It can also help you project and plan different scenarios for expansion or downsizing. Imagine being able to easily visualize how you could best configure your office floor plans to accommodate different rates of growth two, three, or five years out. A tool like Serraview will allow you to confidently say “yes, we can downsize our current space by 20% and still use it effectively for the next three years.”
This could be your opportunity to start transitioning to an agile or activity-based workspace.
Seeing and understand usage patterns—like the spike each Thursday when 90% of your employees are in the office, or that two conference rooms are used every day and the third is empty 80% of the time—will provide the evidence-based data to develop alternate ways to use your space.
Optimizing Lease Terms
Data-based knowledge about your needs allows your to bring a clear vision to your landlord. If, for example, your company takes up one floor and wants to downsize by 30%, your landlord might argue that 30% of one floor can’t be leased to another tenant. With good data, you may be able to determine that you can give up 50% of your current space to be leased out.
Understanding your current state vs. future state allows you to request first right of refusal. If you’re aware of your space use, you can negotiate for additional amenities, such as more allocated parking spaces, or other services.
Optimizing Office Floor Plans
If you are able to downsize—and hopefully reduce your rent payments—you’ll want to use space planning software that delivers utilization data to create efficient office floor plans and layouts. You can also put some of that savings towards improving your space—perhaps by investing in standing desks, updating office furniture and decor, or offering other perks to boost employee engagement.
In the event that you are unable to physically downsize space and lease obligations, you still have options to better use the space.
If you pay for utilities, see if you can consolidate your employees so you can turn off the lights and other systems in one section of your floor or building.
Think creatively about the unused or little-used spaces in your office. For example, instead of having a large, open room that’s only half-occupied, you can use demountable walls to create a separate room that could be a breakroom/hangout spot or brainstorming space. Or perhaps you could knock down walls so that you get more natural light (and reduce your lighting needs). Utilization software can help you identify needs and change your office floor plans so it’s a more pleasant place to work as well as save you money.