Especially when operating facilities for a large company with a great deal of real estate, knowing how to manage space optimally can be tricky. With so many rooms in your buildings and so many different employees and department heads making demands, it can difficult to balance all of your company's needs and make the right decision every time.
You're limited by the constraints of your office space. Your building only has a certain square footage and a finite number of rooms, and you can't make more space appear out of thin air, so the challenge is to make the most of what you've got. Sometimes, that might require you to think outside the box a little bit, as Forbes recently explained.
The magazine noted that commercial real estate brokers frequently demand three- to five-year lease terms for their tenants when renting out buildings, plus personal guarantees from office managers. Three to five years is a long time, and it poses a very real problem - what if your company grows during that time, adding many more employees, but your office isn't able to expand and hold them all? There's no easy solution to that dilemma. As a facilities manager, you'll need to get creative.
Forbes contributor Patrick Hull says that because office managers are so limited by space concerns, it's vital to think of new ideas that can help bring flexibility to the office. That can be challenging, but it's a lifesaver for your company.
"I recommend thinking creatively about what your office space needs are and what they might be," Hull wrote. "I've found that thinking ahead and identifying creative approaches to office space can be a great way to save time and money. Saddling a start-up business with a huge liability like a 3-5 year lease can be tough when resources are limited, especially when there are so many alternative solutions available."
Below are some creative solutions for ensuring that your capitalizing on your office building's full potential.
Examine your staff
As a facilities manager, you probably don't have the authority in your company to fire employees when money and space get tight. What you can do, however, is adjust the way they use their office spaces. Are some employees frequent travelers who don't need their own desks? Would others be better off working from home? Are still others working with too much space, and they could use a realignment? The better you know your staff, the better equipped you'll be to critique the way they use their offices.
Make your spaces more flexible
Flexible spaces give employees more options for using office space. Think about using more meeting rooms for collaboration and more study rooms where workers can sit quietly and read. By mixing up the uses of your various rooms, you can be more accommodating of employees' needs, which will improve morale.
Consider shared offices
When times are really tough financially, you may need to consolidate office space with another company. It sounds awkward, but it might just be a win-win situation - if two companies are stuck in long-term leases but one has too much office space and the other has too little, both can benefit from sharing buildings.
Lean toward hoteling
Rather than give every employee his or her own desk, you can rely on hoteling strategies to improve office flexibility. By having nomadic workers instead of employees fixated at one desk, you can move people around when they get too cramped in their current locations, and you can adjust easily when workers are hired and fired.
As a facilities manager, you're limited by the office space you're given, but your creativity should know no bounds. Think of ways you can innovate more in your workplace with a good facility management software.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in November 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.