Maximising your Office Space with Effective Space Management

The office has never quite been the same since the pandemic, but with all the changes that have taken place in the way we work many businesses still manage their Cape Town commercial space the way they used to.

The main result is in efficiency.

Proactive space management and rethinking the office to be an inclusive place that emphasises belonging and comfort are two powerful strategies that can help to enhance any workspace and introduce new efficiencies into the way that the office floor plan is used.

Let’s take a deep dive into the realm of space management as we find out what’s involved in actively monitoring building users to give them the best office space experience while ensuring that valuable floor space doesn’t go to waste.

Space usage: it’s time to get proactive

As proud as we are of our open plan offices and buildings brimming with modern amenities, we will be the first to admit that many office premises in Cape Town don’t make the best use of space.

Having an organic coffee bar on site or converting an unused rooftop into a fantastic green space always looks great to potential tenants and visitors. Sadly, the positive effect that these building facilities have on everyone who uses the premises may soon disappear if the interior of an office suite is full of empty corners, or if valuable floor space is being used for the wrong purpose.

The traditional office layout was a static setup that changed very little over the years unless the building was renovated, or a company moved to new premises. Some of the stifling features of traditional office layouts can still be found at some premises in Cape Town and other major cities around the world. These include:

  • Permanent assigned seating that reinforces rigid hierarchical relationships and feels like a life sentence for employees who don’t happen to be crazy about the person sitting next to them.
  • Inefficient layouts that force building users to spend valuable time walking from one end of the office to the other to access common resources like printers and teleconference facilities or speak with members of other teams for collaboration purposes.
  • The dreaded cubicle, which cuts employees off from their co-workers and can seriously contribute to feelings of depression and isolation in the workplace. Despite the huge innovations in office space design in Cape Town in recent years, cubicles still rear their boxy heads from time to time.

In addition to these main defects of the traditional office, passive management decisions can result in a usage policy that makes employees feel claustrophobic. In an era when flexibility is emphasised in every area of life, some employees still find themselves placed far from others who are keen to collaborate or find themselves on opposite ends of the building from their managers and key contacts.

Is your office a pleasure to use or a maze of frustration?

To understand just how badly wrong an office layout can be, picture this scenario. Your team arrives at the office each day, eager to work on exciting projects. From the moment they enter the premises, however, they find themselves fighting against the building layout instead of using it with ease.

After years of sitting at the same desks, team members are becoming irritable and losing motivation, while listening to the same old colleagues tell the same old stories. At the same time, they don’t have easy access to the common area where employees tend to congregate to work together or catch up on office friendships.

While employees are stuck on one side of the office, management finds itself equally isolated in enclosed offices on the opposite end of the floor space. No matter how motivated new managers are to get to know their new teams, the distance and psychological barrier of walking across the office prevent them from stopping by as often as they should.

To cap things off, the building floor plan contains a lot of wasted space which is currently being used to store random pieces of office equipment and cardboard boxes that are gathering dust and bringing down motivation levels subconsciously.

The scenario is probably familiar to many of us – but as frustrating as inefficient use of office space can be, it can also be rectified quite easily using smart, proactive methods.

Let’s explore some of them in detail and find out how they can be used to maximise your own office space.

Tech integration can create more efficient office layouts

Waiting for employees to request a desk change or for busy managers to notice that a certain corner of the office is being under-utilised is simply not an efficient way to maximise floor space.

It could take years before changes take place, with some employees having changed departments or even moved on to new jobs before the effects of their requests can be considered.

Instead, a proactive approach to space management can result in almost instantaneous improvements, better collaboration between teams and managers, and ensure that the company isn’t paying for unused and unnecessary floor space.

Here are some of the ways that office usage can be optimised on the fly using the latest technology.

Tracking building users

  • The first and most basic step in smart management is finding out how many users are in your building or office unit on a given day. With work patterns still not entirely predictable and workers more fluid and flexible, space needs to be utilised in a more dynamic setting.
  • Access control data can be used to find out the number of employees on each floor or office unit, how long they tend to spend in the office, and – in the era of remote working – what days are busiest for a given building tenant.

Optimising desk space

  • Depending on the number of desks in your office and their arrangement, the same premises that currently accommodates 30 people could easily be used by 40 or more.
  • Flexible seating that allows desks to be booked and moved around for different purposes (like team meetings, brainstorming sessions, or quiet bursts of focused productivity) is a must for any modern business that serious about employee wellbeing.

Ensuring the diversity of team members and workspaces

No matter how inclusive management tries to be, cliques and tribes inevitably form in the office. One way to minimise this human tendency is to embrace an office layout that prevents “us and them” territories from forming.

When divisions are deemed necessary, the reason for creating a separation between teams should be justified according to their activities and requirements, and not for personal reasons.

The accounting team for example, which requires relative silence to ensure concentration, may not be thrilled to be seated right next to the sales team as they engage in energetic calls throughout the day – but both teams will need to be made aware that they’re not being divided for anything but professional reasons.

Creating an office space where everyone feels comfortable and welcome

The psychological impact of our surroundings is easy to forget about until it changes for the worse. Considering that most employees spend between six and nine hours a day in the office and even hybrid workers clock at least half of these numbers, creating a welcoming, productive environment is essential.

As modern management approaches embrace creativity, problem solving, and a sense of belonging over the traditional command-and-control management approaches of the 20th century, it has become essential to entice employees back to the office instead of compelling them to do so.

If you’re searching for new office premises in Cape Town, now could be the ideal time to rethink your approach to layout in line with management best practices. Here are some points to consider.

Understanding the conflicting needs of different office users

Inclusivity and diversity are good for any business as the variety of skill sets and thought processes that different members bring to any situation almost always result in better solutions.

From a management and office space point of view, however, accommodating a variety of team members with different needs can be challenging.

One of the key challenges faced by anyone implementing proactive office management – which results in a constantly evolving office environment – is the tension between satisfying individual office users and creating a space that meets all their needs simultaneously.

There are several opposing forces that come together to create these tensions and addressing them effectively is a key to developing an equitable environment for everyone, from operational to creative.

Collaboration versus privacy

  • People have a need to socialise and bounce ideas off each other but at the same time everyone needs a certain amount of quiet time and privacy to focus on individual tasks.
  • Your office layout should evolve with the needs of your team members and provide a variety of spaces including areas with workpods, meeting rooms for semi-private and confidential discussions, and collaboration or teaching spaces for workshop activities.

Low versus high stimulation

There’s a large spectrum of preferences between people when it comes to the amount of interaction, light, sound, and other forms of stimulation that are tolerable and desirable.

In their personal lives, some people thrive in noisy nightclubs and feel totally comfortable surrounded by relative strangers while others choose to spend their downtime quietly with a good book, in the company of just a few select friends or loved ones.

  • Between these two extremes, you’ll find the majority of people and office users, and while nobody would suggest installing a disco in your company’s common area, there still need to be communal areas where people can get together, catch up, and chat.
  • High focus spaces, which cater to team members who prefer less stimulation, are also important and should be accompanied by a zero-judgment policy towards those who prefer them.

Meeting the needs of all office users and monitoring them proactively using data from a space management tool to further enhance the suitability of the office to everyone who uses it can go a long way in creating feelings of goodwill towards management. This should ultimately result in a workplace that’s engaging and pleasant to be in.

From the point of view of inspiring workers to come in motivated every day, that’s half the battle won.

Find your ideal office space with us

If you’ve decided to make 2024 the year when you set up a dynamic new business premises and make it a great place to work, our team would love to support you with our decades of collective knowledge. To browse our range of modern premier office spaces in the Cape Peninsula, contact us today.