Every small business owner eventually faces the dilemma of figuring out how much office space he or she will need. Whether due to a move to a new location, or simply a restructuring and reorganizing of existing office space, it’s important to think the process through carefully.
In the past few years, square footage requirements for businesses have changed at a rapid pace due to improvements in the design of office and industrial equipment, smaller and faster computers, and more ergonomic workstation layouts.
Before jumping in blindly, step back and examine your objectives for wanting to redesign your existing space. Among the issues to consider are:
- Are you trying to cut costs? Sometimes you can save money by reorganizing the layout of your business. Make sure to compare costs carefully, and if it looks like a wise move, go for it.
- Are you trying to enhance your image? If your business involves personal contact with customers, sometimes a “makeover” can help improve your company’s public image.
- Are you trying to expand your business? If your business is growing, it may indeed be time to start looking for additional space. Don’t wait too long; procrastination can cost you time and money.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to redesign or relocate, keep these tips in mind when calculating the amount of space you will need:
- Hold brainstorming sessions with managers and key employees. You’ll save money in the long run by getting their invaluable input beforehand. Be creative — hand out surveys to employees, or hold a contest to see who can come up with the best ideas for improved use of floor space.
- Work with a professional architect or space planner. To find a reliable one, consult with the local Chamber of Commerce. You can also ask business associates, friends, and colleagues for recommendations. When you’ve narrowed your list down to a handful, ask for references. Don’t feel pressured to make any hasty decisions.
- Factor in future expansion. Don’t try to squeeze into a new facility that does not allow room for expansion down the road. You never know when your business will grow, and having room for additional employees and equipment is always a plus.
- Pay attention to floor size. Some businesses depend on communication and interaction among departments and employees. For example, insurance companies, investment firms, and advertising agencies tend to use a lot of open floor space. Plan accordingly based on the needs of your business.
- Be mindful of electrical capacity. If your office building has lots of computer equipment and other office machines, make sure you have adequate electrical outlets and enough electrical capacity to serve everyone’s needs. (Be especially careful if you are considering moving into an older building; make sure the electrical system has been brought up to code.)
- Don’t forget about floor load. If your business has a large library (books are heavy!) or uses a lot of large equipment in your daily operations, make sure the floors can bear the weight (or can be reinforced at a reasonable cost). Typical floor-load capacity for an office building is about 50 to 75 pounds per square foot, but a sizeable library may require twice that.