You have a niggling feeling. It’s been bothering you for some time. Your work colleagues are getting snippier every day. There’s a bruise on your leg from when you accidentally bumped into that desk (had it always been there?). You’ve just had to push back yet another meeting because the meeting room was booked until next Tuesday.

Is it time for a new office space?

An office redesign or relocation takes time, resources and planning, so you want to make sure you’re making the right decision if you’re considering a refurbishment or move. So here are 5 tell-tale signs your business may be ready for a new space.

1. You’re crammed in like sardines

You probably thought it was no big deal when management decided to move the rows of desks just a few inches so they could fit another row in – but now you can’t even move your chair back without bumping into the person behind you.

This might seem like just a minor annoyance – but lots of minor annoyances across lots of employees can quickly add up to major problems for your business.

Here are a few ways you can tell if the office space is overcrowded:

  • OH&S incidents are on the rise: When space is overcrowded, people bump into desks, equipment and even each other more often. This could potentially lead to a rise in the amount of sick leave taken.
  • There are more employee complaints and workplace conflict: Like bickering siblings who have been sitting in the backseat for too long, forcing employees into each other’s personal space can quickly make tensions rise and tempers flare. This can even lead to more absenteeism and a fall in productivity.
  • Full and booked-up meeting rooms: Are meetings often delayed because employees have to find extra chairs to squeeze around the conference table? Are the meeting rooms constantly booked up, forcing employees to delay meetings in order to find an available slot? Do a sizable portion of your employees have to stand when you have company-wide conferences? These indications certainly point to overcrowding – and all that precious time lost finding seats and rebooking meetings is time that could have been spent putting value back into your business.

2. Your employees have nowhere to relax

When businesses try to squeeze employees into every nook and cranny, often one of the first spaces that gets encroached upon is breakout areas. Not only does this mean there are often lines to use the microwave and coffee machine, it also means that more employees resort to eating lunch at their desks, which is not so great for workplace morale.

Studies have shown that when people eat together, work performance actually improves, and people are also more altruistic and helpful to boot.

But you simply can’t reap any of these benefits if people don’t have anywhere to hang out together.

3. Your company culture needs a revamp

Sometimes the problem is not the lack of office space – it’s a lagging company culture.

You may, for example, have accommodated for new employees by leasing out another floor in your building. Your employees now have all the space they need – but collaboration has taken a steep nose-dive, because employees no longer interact organically like they once did.

Or you may have just undergone a period of massive turnover, which has perhaps brought in some new values and ways of working, or even introduced some bad habits.

Or the company has naturally grown and branched into new markets or new products, but in the midst of all that, your company culture has fallen by the wayside.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to be proactive. A strong company culture is the bedrock of a healthy company – it unifies employees behind a cohesive identity, and helps to validate those values that characterise your business. It also helps attract and retain top talent, while contributing to a clearer brand identity in the mind of your clients.

The physical environment can have a marked effect on company culture. If, for example, creativity was an important value in your company, you could encourage this by introducing brainstorming rooms with more of a casual set-up, and whiteboards on the walls so people can take down their ideas.

A office redesign, therefore, might be the perfect opportunity to revive and enhance the positive aspects of your company culture – and perhaps even mitigate some of those not-so-positive ones.

4. The paperwork mountains are starting to take over

Growing piles of paperwork on people’s desks are another sign your office space might be in dire need of an upgrade.

It might seem innocuous, but if people don’t have anywhere to store documents, then messy desks won’t be the only issue – documents will get misplaced, more errors will be made, and employees will waste more time searching for the information they need. And your clients will likely be the ones who suffer.

Sure, you could get some more filing cabinets – but these will take up even more valuable real estate, making the office feel more crowded than ever.

When considering an office redesign, therefore, it’s worth putting some careful thought into not just how much space your employees need, but also how much space your documentation requires, particularly if you work in a paper-intensive industry that requires extensive record-keeping.

5. The location is not so hot

It might not be the office space that is the problem, but rather where it is. Maybe you moved the office there several years ago, having been told it was an area on the way up, but things didn’t quite pan out that way.

Or maybe you opted for a location a bit further from the action, because, at the time, you couldn’t afford the exorbitant city rents, and now you can.

Or maybe the location was at the epicentre of the industry once upon a time, but, over the years, businesses – and your clients – started moving elsewhere.

Being in a good location can have lots of benefits to your business – it can put you in closer proximity to your clients, it can help attract and retain top talent, and it may even save you a lot money if, for example, you manage to get into an up-and-coming neighbourhood before the rent hikes start.

Yes, an office redesign or relocation is a lot of work – but staying in an office space you’ve well and truly outgrown will be far more frustrating and costly in the long run.

If you’re relating to one (or more) of the above signs and think an office redesign might be the answer, we’d be happy to talk about your options. After all, understanding what solutions make the most sense for your business is the first step to creating a refurbishment or relocation plan that stays on schedule.


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