Friday, January 9, 2009

Seven Ways for Offices to Thrive

With businesses struggling during this recession, we are now finding a staggering increase in vacancies in office spaces. In Manhattan, space that tenants have put on the market for sublease more than doubled last year to 8.2 million square feet. According to Reis Inc., a New York-based real estate research firm, there was an increase of 14.4 percent of office vacancies throughout the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2008. This is the highest in three years.

Two Bloomberg reporters, Peter S. Green and David M. Levitt wrote this quote in one of their most recent articles:
“This quarter was like no other quarter we’ve ever seen before,” said Joseph Harbert, chief operating officer of Cushman’s New York metro region, in an interview. “It’s as if someone let the helium out of the balloon. The downfall of Lehman really changed the real estate consumer’s psychology, and put everyone in a cautious, wait-and-see, don’t-make-a-decision attitude.”

Unemployment continues to rise. It is expected that 175,000 jobs will be lost in Manhattan. Many are from the financial industry.

People are finding that many of their co-workers are now gone. And they are wondering if they are next in line during the next wave of layoffs.

Fear sets in and productivity begins to decrease.

Now is the best time for companies to assess their strengths and challenges in order to come out on top from this recession.

Here are 7 tips for companies to use that will boost their productivity and save them money:

1. Save on the energy costs by subdividing unused areas from active work stations. The heating bills can be reduced by locating open plan work stations near perimeter radiant heating units during the cold seasons.

2. Individual offices are great for privacy. But, they often require their own variable air volume control for the air conditioning. They also require more light fixtures per square foot than open plan office spaces because there is a more efficient distribution of lumens in the open areas. You can save a bit on your energy bill by reducing the number of individual offices.

3. Having vacant desks scattered between occupied desks sends a strong and negative message to the office workers. “That is where my office mate used to sit, will I be next to go?” Get rid of empty office spaces by relocating office workers so they are located closer together.

4. Share common areas such as libraries and file rooms. Sublet the excess and redundant areas.

5. Reduce the number of coffee break rooms by combining their use with other departments. Get rid of excess kitchenettes by subletting them out with the unused office spaces.

6. Digitize old paper documents. Dispose of obsolete documents by storing them off-site or by shredding them.

7. Hire an architect to record where all of your desks, files, chairs, etc. exists. They can draw this on a floor plan that allows you to just click on a space and read who is in that space, the condition of each piece of furniture, and the function of that space. This is the best time to get a clear picture of what should be kept and what needs to be removed or replaced.

It is wise to be cautious during these challenging times. Your competitors will probably remain in the “wait-and-see, don’t-make-a-decision” mode. This is the perfect time to do just the opposite by getting your office to work more efficient than ever before.

Call us at 212-594-2007 to learn more about how your company can thrive in these times.