Creative Use of Space
For facilities managers, getting the most out of building space is essential. It’s not just about reducing the carbon footprint—it’s a bottom-line business consideration. And “Strategic Space Alignment” (SSA), which entails optimizing the square footage in a building to reduce carbon footprint and maximize the use of space, is what many FMs are turning to. As a result, clients will have reduced maintenance, taxes and energy costs, as well as added revenues if the reduced space can be rented out.
“In business, real estate and building space are usually the second most expensive items in the budget, next to payroll,” says Richard Fanelli, AIA, CFM and IFMA Fellow with the International Facility Management Association (IFMA).
“Customers are looking to reduce their real estate footprint and its associated costs,” he says. “We just worked with a facility manager client who literally has been looking to shed an entire floor of the office space in their owned building, so they can lease the floor. In other cases, where a company leases space, the organization can downsize their footprint and sub-lease the excess space.”
Serve the customer’s needs
Many businesses and employees react negatively to a new space plan when it doesn’t reflect the goals of the company. So for PeopleCube, a Framingham, Mass.-based firm that consults on spacing strategies for businesses, associates get to know the client and complete a site survey before recommending adjustments. They find out which employees stay in the office; which employees are “nomads,” who split time between the office and home or travel frequently; and which workers are “pendulum employees,” who move between two fixed office locations.
“After you know how the employees operate, you constantly need to ask: ‘What’s the business problem here and how can a better use of space help solve it?’” says John Anderson, president and CEO of PeopleCube. “If the company is driven by team-focused tasks, for example, the best solution may be to get rid of a large number of cubicles and provide more collaborative space.”
Consider “hoteling” techniques
Hoteling allows employees to reserve space for the hours they work. This can be applied to college study halls and offices—especially for part-time or freelance employees. Hoteling is also popular among companies that allow telecommuting.
“Employees come in and come out of the office more and more these days,” Anderson says. “So hoteling the space is a great way to allow them to do this and feel great about where they work, while the company saves costs.”
Find multiple uses for the same space
Consider demountable partitions that can be re-configured easily. Create spaces for people to hold impromptu meetings and share ideas, such as a lounge that can double as a small conference area. It can have a coffee bar with a white board and computer connections. Retail centers can have information kiosks and mini-retail stands to enhance revenue opportunities.
“You can do a lot with these areas that can both engage your client’s population or traffic while increasing productivity,” says Fanelli, principal at Fanelli McClain Design Studios in Fairfax, Va. “In the case of office space, it can be in between two departments that don’t often interact. When you make it more like a place to hang out during free time, you can encourage ideas and collaboration that otherwise wouldn’t happen.”
Establish a dazzling first impression
The goal is to draw people to the building, Fanelli says. Attention to detail will make the best use of the space that’s there, making your facility a marketing tool. Colors, lighting, signage and furniture should be inviting and friendly. Plasma-display televisions, art and water features often attract attention.
“We’re seeing facility managers doing more and more of this,” Fanelli says. “The lobbies of offices are becoming more and more cozy and inviting for tenants and visitors, being like a living room away from home.”
Software programs can help
Anderson also recommends specific software that can help facilities managers and their clients analyze their use of space to build greater efficiencies. It can pinpoint which rooms are not used, to consider whether those spaces should be transformed.
“It measures how the space was planned, versus how it’s actually used,” Anderson says. “This allows facilities managers and their customers to make better decisions about how to adapt that space.”