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23 Nov
Space Utilisation and Productivity - How “Googlisation” of the workplace is increasing returns on space

By Gordon Bateup 

Rent and wages are business’s two biggest costs. 

I’ll leave the employee cost assessment to other professionals, but on the property front, it’s a reasonable question to ask: just how productive is your office space? What ROI does it deliver?

Even a casual monitoring of part of that costly space – like the ubiquitous meeting room – can be instructive. 


That common space is usually designed to accommodate eight people.

It’s a fairly well established rule-of-thumb that this expensive space, in fact, will be used most often to hold a meeting between just two people. 

That big, expensive space is providing a woeful return on investment. Your business is paying out thousands of dollars a year to keep that space unoccupied. 

In any economic environment, that just doesn’t make sense. In WA’s current economic malaise that unproductive office space is undermining business performance.

Many managers think that is something they will just have to put up with under their current lease, but there are options that can pay dividends. 

Like most areas of business, the first step is to measure the size of the problem.

A utilisation and productivity audit of your office space can identify and quantify areas of under-performance.


I like to call it “proof-of-life” – we look at all spaces used by people and see how alive or, rather, well utilised they are. 

That study produces a “life map” of the premises where we can quite clearly see hot spots of activity, contrasted by cold areas that are simply not sufficiently inhabited to provide an acceptable ROI.

A parallel investigation as to how employees like to work provides another information map and the two of these provide the basis for recommendations. 

The solution is increasingly being found in what’s known as a “Flexible Design Workplace”.

Put simply it’s the creation of an environment where people are happily productive and space is optimised for the best ROI.

That can see the minimisation of fixed meeting room structures in favour of flexible furniture options that can be used for meetings. 

Costs of up to 60 per cent could be saved (of affected floor space) if meeting rooms were replaced with flexible meeting space furniture

This innovative seating design often takes the form of pod-like furniture. It can be brought together if bigger meetings were needed and returned to two-person clusters afterwards.


The business IT strategy can also be recalibrated in response to the needs of a more organic workplace as people increasingly move toward the use of wifi and to the broader utilisation of tablets and other mobile devices. 

FDW encourages a shift in thinking away from the bricks and mortar attitude of generations of workplace design toward one that aligns with the digital clicks of online business, a hallmark of the information age.

FDW helps create and foster a happy and productive workplace community; it’s a cultural approach.

The office is not just a commercial space, it’s a crucible for the creation of a community of people united in a common purpose. 

Space that doesn’t contribute to that aim or impedes that in someway has to be redesigned to support superior business performance.

Silicon Valley companies, recognised as pioneers in the reimagining of the office environment often call the FDW approach, the “Googlisation of the workplace”. 

More and more businesses are now seeing the logic and the benefits of the increased productivity that flows.

Maybe it’s time to fill one of those under-used meeting rooms and ask the question: how well do you use your space?




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