DESIGNING YOUR OFFICE
To some, an office space is just a medium to conduct business, but to others it is the core of executive and strategic decision making. How do we quantify the amount of space needed when starting up a business? What other aspects should we consider to maximise efficiency without compromising performance?
Firstly, you need to ascertain the type of layout that would be ideal in a new office, i.e: an open concept, private or a mixture of both? Then decide on the types of facilities the office will have, for example a reception area, conference rooms, discussion rooms, utility room, storage and pantry.
Following that, determine the number of employees that will be hired and break them down based on their positions. Next decide how much space you would allocate for each position. Mr. Thiru of Ganda Sakti provided for an average allocation as follows: the CEO will be allocated a 200 sq ft space along with the CFO and COO. Then the managers will be allocated 100 sq ft each followed by the rest of the staff at 50 sq ft each. This of course is variable subject to management decisions. Depending on the nature of your business, you should consider the use of desk sharing and hot-desking, especially for businesses that run on shifts or have a large volume of sales staff.
Once the estimated size has been determined, the next step is to integrate that plan with the budgeted forecast. This will give you an idea of the price your business is willing to pay per square foot. This is imperative when liaising with a real estate agent as this will give them a better idea of which buildings would suit your budget whilst taking into account your other requirements such as the location, proximity and public transport accessibility.
Once you have been exposed to several different options, you will be able to alter your budget and size requirements accordingly to ensure long term sustainability in terms of space and rental affordability.
In designing an office, a lot of time and effort will have to be spent planning. Once you have chosen a premise, request for a scaled and detailed floor plans and work with your architect or designer in conceptualising the best solution for your office space. An ideal office ensures delivery of functions, efficient use of space and open to accommodate future expansion plans.
The benefits of planning from scratch is the luxury of a customised configuration that can be designed for specific business purpose. If planned properly you could also save on energy costs. Malaysia being a country of tropical climate, benefits from the warmth of the sun all year round. The incorporation of natural lighting to illuminate the work place, double glazing to reduce heat absorption and solar panels to maximise the heat energy is one of the many ways to save priceless energy. The use of floor hardener as office flooring not only is aesthetically pleasant but also keeps the space cool and saves cost on purchasing and maintaining carpeted floors. Energy saving bulbs continue the cost saving trend and should be utilised.
Space efficiency is also an important consideration during the design stage. It is important to ensure there is sufficient space for current needs, storage as well as future growth. It is best that these storage spaces are concealed. The alternative approach is to opt for a paperless system which features electronic archiving. This will promote an uncluttered workplace that saves cost and space for filing purposes and save valuable time to retrieve data.
When installing your IT system make sure there is an allocation for proper concealment of wiring and cabling to promote a near and pleasant workplace.