More Staff in Less Space
by Kristin R. Hill, AIA
Despite a wobbling economy, some U.S. companies are still experiencing explosive growth. Yet partly because of it, many growing companies are reluctant to take on additional space. Instead, they do all they can to squeeze more people into tighter confines, eventually stretching their building infrastructure beyond its limits.
Similar overcrowding may also occur when companies, locked into high rent rates, try to sublet space for extra revenue or when they change in size and structure due to mergers and acquisitions.
In either case, a fundamental workspace challenge then takes center stage: how to fit more staff in less space.
Solutions to Overcrowding
When a company needs to get the most out of every square inch of space, careful planning is especially important. By examining the entire facility, space planners can locate wasted space, propose new options for allocating space per worker, and create a plan that will provide for the future.
For example, smaller individual workstations, coupled with more common work areas may use space more productively than a more conventional office landscape that has many roomy workstations and a few large, inefficient conference rooms.
Whatever the origin of the problem, overcrowding is handled in different ways — some with better results than others. As an example, a software company was running its operations in several different buildings. In late 2000, it was rapidly growing and wanted to consolidate 70,000 square feet (6500 square meters) of space under one roof.
Then the economic bubble burst, and the company moved staff into only half the space. But the firm needed to maintain the fun, energetic, and creative atmosphere that was critical to their culture.
When a warehouse was converted to office space, inexpensive and off-the-shelf materials were given fun, lively colors to make up for the lack of natural light.
Photo: Design Management Corporation
The goal in this renovation was to optimize use of space and reflect the company's traditional background but with a light, contemporary look.
Photo: Greg Premru
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