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3 Key practices to help you manage Office Space Standards

3 Key practices to help you manage Office Space Standards

If you are responsible for managing the office space at your company, you know how difficult it can be.

Some useful approaches to make this easier came out of a benchmarking study I did for a client who was trying to rationalize their office space allocation standards while planning for a major relocation. The relocation would result in a lot of change for many employees currently in a mix of old furniture and no real standards in older leased space.

The study was based on my ‘Intelligent Benchmarking’ model so it was highly focused on solutions and in addition to collecting data, the main objective was to collect information on practices, lessons learned, successes and issues. We selected a small number of organizations who would be good to compare with.

Through an interview process, I was able to identify the key success factors and practices that I then compared to the client’s practices and situation (and even correlated to the financial comparisons) to identify things they could do, keeping in mind that what’s a ‘best practices’ for one organization isn’t necessarily a ‘best practice’ for another.

As part of the initiative, these key things were identified as being critical to successfully managing office layout and space standards:

1. Develop an Office Space Standard

Develop a space standard and have it formally approved at the highest levels. This should identify who gets what. Space costs money, so moderating the space use is part of keeping down costs and a wide variety of different set-ups also costs money for moves and changes. Slowly migrate existing workstations to the new standard – any moves or reconfigurations are only done with the new standard, for instance. Sell your standards based on consistency between all employees and moderating the costs. Both good arguments. For this to work, Facilities needs to have control over furniture and space. After all, you are the expert.

2. Allow for Exceptions

Build exceptions into your standards based on what you know about the organization. In other words, figure out ways to accommodate the special cases you already know about (as long as it makes sense) and make it formal. This should be a very very small list. Also, decide how to accommodate common issues for staff (amount of space and privacy being the top two) without going beyond their allocated space. Examples include extra workspace needed for some people who deal with drawings, large documents, etc. which can be in common space rather than giving them larger workstations. Add a table between cubicles that are back to back or by using lower filing cabinets with a work surface on top. Privacy can be dealt with by providing very small enclosed rooms for calls or employee/union discussions. There are lots of ways to deal with these issues within typical workstation standards.

3. Have a formal approval process

Have an approval process for new exceptions that requires a very senior level sign-off to circumvent the ladder climbing that many departments use when they are told they can’t have something. Too often, you'll deny a request and their boss will go to your boss for an exception. If they don't get it, they 'climb the ladder' until someone on your side gives in. Making a formal high level sign-off a requirement will eliminate many requests and even take the pressure off you to act as the 'space police.

Interested in more information about managing office space or even the facility itself, whether you lease or own the building?  Read about the Facility Management profession at Managing The Built Environment

About Michel Theriault

Michel is the founder of Success Fuel for Managers. He is an author, speaker and consultant focusing on topics relevant to Managers and aspiring Managers in businesses of all sizes who want to get results, get attention, and get ahead. He is also a contributor to Forbes and AllBusiness Experts . Michel is available for speaking engagements, training and consulting. Connect with him or send an email.

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