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THE downsized OFFICE. What to expect.

Updated: Feb 10, 2021

Let us talk about downsizing.

As workspace solution specialists it is our core focus to stay connected and up to date on office trends.

Our exposure to so many different industries gives us good insight into many different kinds of workplace practices. We get to see what works well, what we can improve on and what to avoid in office interior design, in order to create workspaces that work.

Added to this is our continuous curiosity and desire to be leading solution providers for our clients. Because of this we never stop researching. Just because a workspace style or setting works for one industry, does not mean it will work for others and it is our job to figure this out; What makes space work and what makes space fail?

The golden rule in office planning and design is this: the office environment MUST serve the business that occupies it.

During this challenging time as we watch business navigate the unknown and prepare for a future that is uncertain, one of the biggest trends in office space now is the move towards downsizing.

Businesses are looking to preserve themselves for the long haul and to do this it is critical to become ‘lean and mean’, ‘quick and nimble’. This calls for a redesign of business systems, business structures and business costs.

For most businesses, the biggest expenses are attributed to human resources and to office space and office costs (including equipment costs). Naturally, therefore, the first strategic move for most companies is to downsize their human resources and then downsize their physical footprint.

Downsizing the physical space will either be driven by the reduction in human resources or by the need to alter the work setting to suite a new work style.

Reducing office space to accommodate fewer people:

This is the most obvious reason for a space reduction. Fewer people = less space required. This action would be taken as a response to a company change.

Altering the work setting:

This is a more considered and deliberate move where the office environment is changed to facilitate change within the business. That change may not necessarily be a reduction in human resources but potentially a change in how people need to use the space.

Many businesses can largely function with their teams working remotely on an ongoing basis. The upside to this is the reduced spacial footprint that is required for the business. The office can become a reduced, central hub with facilities that serve the business needs efficiently.

The stumbling block is that landlords, understandably, are unwilling to release tenants from their lease agreements without levying hefty penalties and insisting on a replacement tenant in place before the lease will be terminated. This means that in the future months, as companies manage to escape their lease agreement or as lease agreements come to an end, we will see a move towards downsizing.

What to expect from downsizing?

  • Reduced size of space means a lower rental cost.

  • Less space occupied equals fewer operating costs (fewer people less equipment therefore less electricity, less cleaning costs, less consumable costs etc.)

  • A smaller footprint and needing less resources have many benefits for the earth, a bonus for the eco conscious business.

  • Office facilities, when designed properly, can become multi-functional, giving you the most out of your space. No space is underutilized, therefore maximizing on cost saving.

  • A good cleanup is required; paper and filing must be archived and disposed of to reduce the amount of storage that is required. This is an inconvenience but also a benefit!

Downsizing forces change. Some changes that might be required to free up some space are:

  • Companies may be forced to consider a proper move towards the paperless environment. This means that an investment in technology might be required.

  • Automation of some business systems will assist with freeing up resources. Automation requires technology and this can come with a price.

  • Behavioral changes will be required of staff; how we engage and use our space is required to change when we are faced with sacrificing a dedicated desk or an enclosed/cellular office. Stepping into a phone booth for privacy or taking a walk for a private call, eating lunch at a dedicated breakaway zone instead of at our desks, sharing a print station with the entire team, sharing storage, being mindful of a strict meeting room booking system.

These are just some of the possible changes we might need to make when moving to a downsized application of space.

Careful planning is required to fit in all space needs and all facilities.

The luxury of wasted space is no longer a thing. One must think carefully about how every inch of space will be utilized. Purposeful design is more important than ever. A good cleanup is required; paper and filing must be archived and disposed of to reduce the amount of storage that is required. This is an inconvenience but also a benefit!

The process of downsizing

Once the updated and renewed lease agreement is in place

Consult with an office planning specialist to assist you with the following:

  • Conduct a thorough needs analysis. This is highly beneficial, and necessary, when conducted properly. The change that you make must be done properly to unlock all the benefits and to reduce your costs.

  • Have a thorough space assessment done to establish space limitations.

  • Space planning must be properly set out to plan the achievable space application.

  • Advise you on the best use of multi-functional office spaces.

  • Use this opportunity to rebrand, refresh and reinvent your workspace.

  • Keep only your best furniture and artwork. Re-purpose and save costs.

If your business is evolving at this time that probably means that your business is one of the survivors… and one of the thrivers. The only way to get through financial challenges is to allow the movement and change that needs to happen. Instead of seeing this as destructive, see it is an opportunity to reinvent and disrupt.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Rumi

Create your best office! And allow your business the opportunity to grow with the changing world.

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