No matter the size, type, or clientele of a company, the ultimate goal is to be successful and prosper. And with success potentially comes growth and maybe not just to the bottom line. This can mean the need for more workers, clients, equipment and, often, office space. What if you want to cultivate success, but don’t want to expand your spatial footprint, though? Is it possible to grow a company but not grow the physical space? The simple answer is yes, but it may take some planning and a few tools to help.
Plan With the End in Mind
A strategy from the past that may still work for some organizations is to start with a space that allows for more people, equipment, and assets in the future. However, with the abundance of start-ups and success or failure being defined sometimes in the matter of a few months the ability to commit to more can be a bit too risky. But sometimes the stars align and the opportunity to engage more space than you need just makes sense. The key is to maximize the space through proactive space management.
If you are designing your space from the beginning, designate areas for future growth and equip them accordingly with the cables, outlets and infrastructure you’ll need, when these areas become occupied with workers. In the meantime, these areas can serve as large common rooms where current employees have room to design and brainstorm, collaborate with other team members or stage/create projects. Since much of the company’s progress is dictated by how hard it works to create an established name in the initial years, it would be beneficial to have open spaces, not necessarily dedicated, but more flexible for various work needs. Then, using space and move management tools, spaces can be planned for and converted to house additional employees, as needed. Or follow one of the current trends for maximizing your space by sub-leasing additional office space to other small businesses. This adds additional revenue to the bottom line and, if a company is in a related field to your own, your organization might be able to take advantage of additional collaboration or other cohabitation or symbiotic benefits.
For established businesses, space management can help consolidate unused or wasted spaces in their building, with the goal of re-designing these areas to accommodate additional employees or assets. On the average, businesses are only using 50-60% of their overall space, but will more than likely think about relocating before converting what they already have. Consider your business goals and use your space management software to track use and trends so that you can develop and effective plan for maximizing your space. This strategy not only allows your company room for growth, but also keeps costs down - a positive for the bottom line. Accordingly, these kinds of cost adjustments, moving towards the black, always have a positive effect on a company’s growth potential.
Another potential growth solution, which is currently trending in the business world, is creating out of office work scenarios. Because of mobile technology advancements and networks, which support high volume data transfers, working at home or from other satellite locations has become a real alternative for adding employees, but not space. A business could grow indefinitely and never change the size of their home office if employees continue to work productively from their own spaces. Mobile technology also allows employees to communicate with each other from anywhere, so conference rooms for meetings or simply offices, desks and chairs, may not necessarily be needed in the company’s existing space. Therefore, space management software again steps in to help plan and re-configure what is already available. And, from this “space audit”, a company may find that they can actually downsize, reduce costs, and still meet all of their spatial and operational needs.
Asset and Inventory Management
Progress will often create more work for a company, which means more physical assets and inventory will be needed or consumed. But, if you aren’t aware of what you currently have, you may be warehousing more inventory than necessary. It may be more beneficial to set up a regular delivery of consumable items so they aren’t stockpiled on premises. Or, maybe there are assets and equipment that are rarely used, which can be replaced by other machines or systems already in place. For instance, fax and copy machines have streamlined in size and are often combined with other useful office tools like scanners and printers. Plus, many of the features, once only available on these machines, can be found on mobile devices, which take up a fraction of the space.
Monitor Trends and Remain Flexible
Sometimes, progress can come from innovative ideas for management, operations or client services, which are designed to increase revenue but not physical size or employee numbers. Financial growth is critical to the health of a company and will help create more potential for growth in the future.
- What excites and motivates your employees?
- How can operations be more streamlined?
- What do your customers want and expect?
- Research what your competition is doing and consider how you can adjust accordingly?
To be competitive and nurture your business’ expansion, you have to be aware of all the factors surrounding your company, both directly and indirectly. When you create a plan, though, make sure you have a plan B (or even C) ready in the wings, as even the best plans can suffer setbacks.
Space management is no longer just determining how many desks and cubicles can fit in an office. The ability to track how and when the space is used gives the FM insight into the company’s current situation, where it is going in the future, and helps predict how the workplace culture will evolve as the company expands. And the workforce is able to have their needs met to make them as productive as possible, thus continuing to grow the business without growing the space.