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Four Must-Have Features for Office Space

While office space may seem simple to design and build, it takes a great amount of thought to ensure you’re not creating space that may go unused, or will need to change significantly if staffing needs change. While office space may seem like a big empty space that is later filled with cubicle walls, office furniture, and office equipment – there’s a lot more to it than that.

Developers and tenant architects alike need to think about file storage rooms, server rooms, offices, and conference rooms. There are lighting and energy-efficient technologies to consider and, of course, how the built environment will contribute to the comfort and productivity of employees.

Given that, here are some features to consider for your next office construction project.

1. Suitably-sized workstations.

Rodney Square in downtown Wilmington, DE. Office space like this still needs a modern touch.An article in Building Design + Construction says that workspaces are shrinking from 8′ x 8′ or 8′ x 10′ to a more stream-lined 6′ x 6′. This is due primarily to the ever-shrinking technology: no more giant CRT monitors, we have flat-screen monitors or laptops now. Companies are doing away with desk phones as more people are using their cell phones. And companies are turning to central printers, rather than everyone having their own. Plus, if you can eliminate personal paper storage (see #2), you can save a lot more space and cut back on office furniture costs.

Many in the space planning realm recommend giving employees at least six feet by six feet, and possibly more, to ensure they’re comfortable and happy where they’re working. If employees feel cramped and crowded, they’re more likely to spend unproductive time away from their workstation or find work somewhere else where they’re more comfortable.

2. Document management technology

If you really want to cut down on your office size, go paperless. Eliminate filing cabinets and paper storage, as well as the costs of just using paper by going paperless.

According to a recent article in Entrepreneur magazine: “One four-drawer filing cabinet holds as much as 20,000 pages, costs $25,000 to fill, and $2,000 to maintain each year.

Instead of printers and filing cabinets, invest in a document management system, a hardware and software system that will print, scan, and store your various office documents. Rather than printing everything out and storing it, store it all online in a cloud-based system and let people access it remotely. This is especially important if you allow remote work or have several locations.

3. Plan for more remote work

Technology lets us work from anywhere. With a laptop and a wifi connection, you can function just like you were sitting inside an office: you can send emails, participate in conference and video calls, get your work done, and access cloud-based documents. To compete for the best employees in today’s environment, allowing some remote work time is paramount. Not only could allowing this cut down on office construction costs, but you can hire the absolute best people in the country instead of drawing from a (potentially) smaller pool of local-only talent.

Of course, you need to account for this remote workforce. Rather than having one desk per employee, you could create a “bullpen” system — a set of desks where your remote employees can work whenever they’re in the office. If they only come to the office a couple times a week or month, there’s no point in having a dedicated desk that sits empty 75% of the time.

Let your remote employees share desks and just make sure they’re not in the office at the same time so you don’t run out of desk space for them.

4. A high-tech server room

If your business relies on centralized computer servers, they can give off a lot of heat, which depending on the season, can have a detrimental effect on your HVAC costs. In the winter, it can be beneficial, but from the late spring to early fall, it can increase your cooling costs as your AC struggles to keep up with the additional heat load.

So consider building a server room in your office space that has independent heating and cooling options, plus ventilation to vent off the additional heat created by your servers.

Additionally, make sure you have offsite backups for all your data, preferably out of state. If disaster ever strikes — fires, floods, etc. — you won’t lose your company data. Entire businesses have had to shut down because they lost their financial, HR, and proprietary system data in a disaster. But with a remote work system and offsite backup in place, they were able to stay in business and continue to serve their customers without interruption.

Office spaces of the 21st century look a whole lot different than they did just 20 short years ago. It’s important that your new office space reflects the changes in technology and workplace requirements. Make sure you have a comfortable workspace for employees, but let them work remotely as needed. Save on storage by going paperless, and make sure your server room is built for exactly that need, instead of converting an old closet into a server rack system.

Broadpoint Construction can help you with your modern office building, including the latest design trends. To learn more, please visit our website and ask us how we can help you design and build your new office space.

Photo credit: Tim Kiser (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.5)