With the impact of COVID-19 on forced remote working, employers were left with near to empty office space. Some companies used this opportunity to reduce office space and cut costs. However, now that vaccinations started to roll out and the world population begins to get close to herd immunity, organizations start to think and wonder if people want to return to the office or stay remotely. Based on that understanding companies need to have a deep understanding of what means to go back to work and assess if they can reduce office space.
Recently employees from big American corporations were asked: Do you prefer to permanently from home or get a 30,000USD raise? Interestingly enough 64% of respondents prefer to work from home. This raises then the question to facility managers, finance and operations managers, CFO, and COOs: Can I reduce office space?
There are several companies that are expecting to reduce their office space. One-in-five companies expect to reduce their office space from 10% to even 50% or more. The question lies though then if you can reduce office space and how much can you reduce.
Find below 15 questions that will help you understand if you can reduce office space and if you have enough data to define how much. Can you answer all of them?
- Will we or do we have too much space now that there will be an increase in remote work?
- Should we remove some of our desks and increase the amount of meeting, collaboration and social space?
- What are the occupancy rates of areas, desks and meetings rooms?
- How many people do we have in office in daily basis?
- Which days of the week will be or are popular for employees to come to office?
- Is it true that everyone want to come on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays and wants to spend Mondays and Fridays at home?
- How do we schedule the days that employees visit the office in a way that avoids too many people turning up on the same day?
- Should we tell the staff to book desks before they arrive to avoid too many people turning up on the same day?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of personnel pre-booking own desk?
- How do we make sure that the people who book desks actually turn up to the office?
- How do we keep people safe at the office?
- How do we make sure that the spaces and desks that are used are cleaned regularly without increasing our cleaning costs?
- How do we minimize exposure to airborne viruses?
- Should we schedule meetings and leave spaces for the meeting room ventilation to be refreshed?
- Should we show the amount of fresh air in rooms and encourage staff to avoid starting a meeting in a stuffy room?
If you have data to answer 80% of the questions then congratulations! You have good understanding on whether you can reduce the office space, where and how.
If you couldn’t, you might want to understand different ways to get information on how to optimize your office space. Here you can find concrete examples and guidelines on the best approaches to get validated and reliable data to assist in your decision making and optimization planning.
Return to office plan and office space optimization is an important topic and raises many questions. Can you reduce office space, or do you need to increase it? How much do you need to reduce or increase? What are your employees signaling they need? What are their expectations and wishes?
These questions need to be answered if you want to successfully welcome your employees into the office in a new normal after pandemic.