Selecting and Designing the Ideal Office Space

by CoyDavidson on September 6, 2010

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The Benefits of a Prototype Office Space Plan

Typically, before the office tenant gets out into the marketplace to evaluate candidate buildings, they go through the exercise of space programming with their architect/space planner to determine the volume of space required to support the organizations operations.

The space programming process in simple terms typically involves the space planner interviewing the tenant regarding the specifics of their space requirements in terms of the number and size of private offices, workstations and various support spaces. For lack of a better term it is a space budget. Once the number of workspaces and support spaces is determined then a circulation factor is added for corridors and open space and then the required amount of useable square feet is estimated, then by adding  the a typical common area factor the required amount of rentable square feet is determined.

At this point armed with the general idea of the volume of space required, the tenant representative surveys the marketplace for buildings with the required space that meet the tenant’s selection criteria (i.e. location, building quality, features, etc) Once final candidate buildings are selected then typically the space planner is engaged to develop a space plan for the building(s) being considered.

Increased Emphasis on Space Planning

Today, bottom line-conscious real estate managers are motivated to thoroughly utilize corporate space to accommodate the largest number of employees into the most efficient amount of productivity yielding space.

In addition corporate headquarters or offices are being custom designed to reflect the precise image of the corporate mission or philosophy via architecture, interior design, furniture systems and space planning techniques.

The increased focus on the detailed planning of works space is driven by several factors:

  • Minimizing Real Estate Costs
  • Emphasis on Productivity
  • Changing demographics of the work force
  • The accelerating cycles of change

There has been a lot of discussion lately regarding office space density and the amount of space allocated to each employee in the company’s space planning process. Many companies are looking at new approaches to utilizing their office space.

The Prototype Space Plan

The benefits of taking the space planning process one step further prior to evaluating specific properties can be significant. The process of developing an actual prototype space plan that is not tailored around a specific building can be a worthy exercise and a valuable tool in evaluating candidate properties. Rather than designing a plan around a specific building, a plan is developed that represents the most efficient and productive layout, allowing the tenant to go through the exercise of evaluating various layout and design alternatives. The benefits of this process are to develop a benchmark for the ideal space in terms of:

  1. Size & Efficiency
  2. Productivity
  3. Image; and
  4. Build-Out Costs

All too often, companies just replicate their existing plan without going the process of determining how they might be more space efficient or enhance other factors such as productivity or image.

The Tenant Representative armed with a prototype space plan is in a better position to identify the ideal buildings and space candidates. In addition, a new prototype plan might reveal that your current space no longer works in the most productive manner. The tenant may be in a building that works quite well for their operation. However, a re-designed space plan tells your existing Landlord that your space layout is no longer ideal and changes the Landlords mindset of an easy renewal to a dynamic of where they are competing with multiple buildings on a level playing field.

The key to a successful office location involves many factors and many decisions made long before and after any space planning procedure is set in motion. However taking an extra step in the space planning process can yield significant results, and in today’s increasingly competitive economy and rapidly changing work environment, the concept of space planning is even more important. I think office tenants are best served when their own architect/space planner, not the Landlord’s is engaged early on to work with your broker to determine your best possible occupancy solution.

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